Finding deeper meaning in calendrical and geographic technicalities:
The Mishna in Taanit (1:3) records two opinions about the appropriate date on which to begin praying for rain in Israel: The first view is that prayers should begin on the 3rd of Marcheshvan, the official start of the rainy season; Rabban Gamliel, however, says to wait until the 7th of the month, allowing a full 15 days for pilgrims who went to Jerusalem for Sukkot to get home before being drenched by rain.
The Ritva (on Bava Metzia 28a), however, cites a view that those living farthest from Jerusalem actually had more than a 15-day journey. Why not push off the prayers even longer, so they too will be safely home before the downpour? He answers that they really should be hurrying more to get home, so as not to unreasonably delay the prayer for rain.
These texts led to valuable discussions about prayer and Rabban Gamliel’s apparent faith in its efficacy, and about the challenge of balancing communal concern for the individual (waiting for everyone to get home) with individual concern for the community (hurrying so as not to make everyone wait too long).
A Tuesday TorahTutors Tidbit: Real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions.