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Ta'anis 8


AGADAH: The Gemara tells us that rain falls in the merit of those who are true to their word. In what way is this "Midah k'Neged Midah?" The YERUSHALMI (cited by TOSFOS Shabbos 31a) explains that farming is a display of faith, for the farmer "has faith in the One Above and sows his seeds." Without the necessary rain, his crop will rot, and he will have wasted perfectly good potential food by burying it in the ground. (This is why the verse hints to the laws of Zera'im with the word "Emunas," Tosfos ibid.) When people show that they are faithful and true to their word, Hashem repays them by showing his faithfulness through rain.

In a similar sense rain revives our belief in the resurrection of the dead and the World to Come. When a person passes away, we bury him in the earth, faithful as we are that although the dead body will first rot, eventually Hashem will show us his faithfulness and bring the promised resurrection of the dead. "They will grow... like the grass of the earth" (Tehilim 72:16). Of this, says the Midrash (Eichah Raba 3:8), it is said, "Raba Emunasecha (Eichah 3:23)." When we see Hashem's faithfulness through His rains, we are convinced with renewed vigor that the day will come when He will bring the dead back to life and show His power in the world. "Great is a day of rain as the day in which the dead come to life." (Based on "Seasons of Life" by Nosson Slifkin, published by Targum Press)


AGADAH: The Gemara says that "Ein Berachah Metzuyah Ela b'Davar ha'Samuy Min ha'Ayin" -- blessing is found only in an item which is hidden from the eye (i.e. it has not been counted). TOSFOS asks that the Gemara elsewhere (Chulin 25b) says that Shedim (demons) do not have any power to take away something that is counted or tied up in a bundle. That implies that they *are* able to take away something that is not counted! Why, then, does the Gemara here say that *blessing* is found in something which is not counted? It should say the opposite -- that *decrease* is found in something which is not counted!

ANSWER: TOSFOS answers that this question does not begin. Shedim only have the ability to take something which is Hefker, ownerless. Once something has been counted, it is not Hefker, and thus the Shedim cannot take it. If it has not been counted, Hashem gives a Berachah to the item so that it increases. The increase is Hefker (until it is noticed by the owner upon counting it), and that extra bit can be taken away by the Shedim. By not counting one's produce, one makes it possible for his produce to increase as a result of Hashem's blessing. That extra produce, though, is then vulnerable to the Shedim, for it is Hefker until it is counted.

The KAV HA'YASHAR uses this concept to explain the first verse of Birkas Kohanim (Bamidbar 6:24). "May Hashem bless you" -- the concept of "blessing" refers to increase and proliferation, or "Ribuy" (Rashi, Sotah 10a, DH ba'Meh Bircho). The next phrase in the verse is, "And may He protect you," which the Sifri (Naso 40) explains to mean "may Hashem protect you from Mazikin."

Since the first part of Birchas Kohanim asks that Hashem give us bountiful blessing, the extra increase that He gives is has a status of Hefker which the Mazikin are able to take. Therefore we continue by asking that Hashem protect us from the Mazikin.

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