Gemara question

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    I was leaning Taanis on Shavuos and it says that one of the “keys” Hashem holds is for the rain, meaning He does it Himself and does not use a shaliach or malach. That being said, why then do we mention the angel “Af Bri” when beginning Mashiv HaRuach?




    A man owns a factory that produces widgets. The owner hires a foreman to actually run the operational aspects of the factory.

    While the foreman is the one responsible for physically creating the widgets, it’s still the owner who decides how many widgets get made each day and in what colors and sizes.

    “Holding the keys” may not mean that He physically does it, but rather that He makes the decisions as to when and where the rain falls.

    After all, when Eliyahu held the keys, if he would have decided that it should rain, he wouldn’t have had to physically create the rain, but rather simply decree when/where it should fall.

    The Wolf


    But it says: “R. Yochanan said: Three keys are in the hands of the Holy One, blessed be He, which are not intrusted to any messenger, and they are: The key of rain… The key of rain, as it is written [Deut. xxviii. 12]: “The Lord will open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven, to give the rain of thy land in its season”

    This seems pretty straight forward. If Hashem indeed uses a malach to send rain why would the Gemara bother to state this? Obviously, everything in the world is controlled by Hashem and angels are shluchim for His will, so why the need to state that he does NOT use them for rain and the other exceptions?

    As for Eliyahu, it says: “Said R Hanina: Because dew and wind are never withheld. Whence do I know this? Because it is written : “Then said Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, unto Achab, ‘As the Lord the God of Israel liveth, before whom I have stood, there shall not be in these years dew or rain, except according to my word'”; and further, it is written [ibid. xviii. 1]: “Go, show thyself unto Achab; and I will give rain upon the face of the earth,” but in the latter passage dew is not mentioned, because it was never withheld. It might be asked, however, why Elijah swore that it would not fall? He meant to say merely that no dew which would benefit the soil Would fall, for all the dew which should fall would not be productive of any good.”

    So Eliyahu did NOT in fact hold the key to rain.


    Tosofas in Niddah daf tes zayin amud bais dibor hamaschil hamalach discusses this exact question


    rebbi1: Thank you. Do you know where I can get an English translation (or at least the Hebrew)? It would be great for my learning group.

    Participant – no translation



    The Hebrew is in Tosafos opening words Hamalach in Gemarah Niddah daf tes zayin as rebbi1 said (I dont know if its there or not but I am assuming rebbi1 knows what he is talking about).


    WolfishMusings’ reply is actually what the Tosafos in Nida answers. Holding the key means that he decides when and where.

    You ask, “Everything in the world is controlled by Hashem and angels are shluchim for His will.” That’s a great question. The picture is a bit more complex. Rav Shrira Gaon says that Malachim do have a say in certain matters and it is permissible to request of them some favors.

    For a better understanding, recall the Mishna in Avos that Hashem could have created the world in one Maamar but He chose to do it in ten, so as to give S’char to those who hold up this large complex world. It might sound almost trivial to us, one word, ten words. But we understand that each Maamar was introducing a new system by which the world would be run.

    If everything would be run directly from the highest order, there would not be any confusing events. Reward and punishment would be instant, Parnasa would be directly linked to the person’s Zechusim, and everything would be very clear. Now, there is a system on top of system. This causes the desired amount of ambiguity, that allows for what we know of as Teva.

    This is all Ratzon Hashem, and everything catches up, but things take time and are rarely clear. Mikra Echad Latzadik Vilarasha, Kivan Shenitan Reshus… It’s like creating a detailed painting with a wide brush. If you plan it out well enough it can be done, but each stroke effects more than the desired area.


    Perhaps the answer is in the explanation (I think from Rashi) of the idea of geshomim beitom. What is the special blessing of beitom? That it should not fall when it would be an interruption or a hardship, but rather when it will be the least disruptive (Erev Shabbos) and most useful (rain that falls during the day, especially in arid climates, evaporates quicker and is less useful).

    HKBH created a “water cycle” that operates as he directs, but within the parameters of wind, weather, climate, and temperature that he set as its boundaries. Within those boundaries there can be variation, unless he directly determines (geshomim beitom) when and how the rain falls. It is in this interaction within the cycle that he set in motion that we see he holds the keys.

    lebidik yankel

    My two cents is that all the things mentioned in that gemarah are things that seem arbitrary – why does it rain some years and others not? Thats why we consider these to be decided upon case by case by Hashem and not in a system, as is the general teva. But how Hashem makes it rain? Through a malach!

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