Prayer for Rain in the Merit of the Matriarchs
By Rabbi Jill Hammer
Sukkot is a time of fullness and generosity, but also a time to pray for the coming season. Shemini Atzeret, the festival when we pray for rain, is an expression of our need for water, which in the Jewish tradition symbolizes life, renewal, and deliverance. The Geshem (Rain) Prayer speaks of five patriarchs. In that spirit, I have included five verses, for Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, and for Miriam the prophetess, paralleling verses for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Aaron. This prayer uses water as a metaphor for devotion and faith, asking that God grant us life-sustaining rain.
Remember the beautiful one: her radiance pure as water!
She welcomed new souls through immersion in water.
In her old age her breasts flowed with milk like water.
Her offspring will increase like grains of sand near seas of water.
For Sarah’s sake, do not withhold water.
Remember the maiden: rising up to greet her, water!
She let down her pitcher and gave to the thirsty water.
She drew even for camels from the well of water.
Over her tent hovered a divine cloud full of water.
For the sake of Rebekah’s righteousness, grant the gift of water.
Remember the shepherdess: she brought her sheep to water!
She wrestled God-wrestlings mightier than crashing water.
For her exiled children she weeps tears of water,
and they will return to their land like returning streams of water.
For Rachel’s sake, do not withhold water.
Remember the hidden one: her veil like a fall of water!
Her womb and her deeds were more abundant than springs of water.
She praised You for Your glory as there flowed from her birth water.
King and priest suckled her as lilies suckle water.
For the sake of Leah’s righteousness, grant the gift of water.
Remember the sister: she watched at a distance from water!
She spoke softly to newborns and saved them from the river of water.
She took up her timbrel and sang at the parting of water.
For her sake, You granted the people a well of water.
For Miriam’s sake, do not withhold water.
To learn more about this prayer, visit: https://opensiddur.org/prayers/lunisolar/joyful-days/shemini-atseret/a-geshem-prayer-invoking-the-matriarchs/
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