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What is the "Geshem" prayer?

by Rabbi Zalman Abraham


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Geshem” is the Hebrew word for rain. Life in the Land of Israel has always depended on rain. Agriculture is one of Israel’s main resources and its success largely depends on the rain season. If rain falls, life flourishes and the country enjoys rich soil and abundant crop. If however rain is withheld, the country goes into a state of drought and famine. This is why the Hebrew word “Geshem” also refers to materiality (as in “Gashmiyut”), i.e. material success in Israel is largely dependant upon rainfall. In fact, according to Kabbalah rain signifies the downpour of material blessings from the spiritual realm to this physical world. Prayer is the appropriate means of requesting material success since all (material) blessings come from G-d.

The “Geshem” prayer takes on three forms:

  • T'fillat Geshem - An annual prayer said on Shmini Atzeret to inaugurate the mention of rain in the Amidah prayer.
  • Mashiv HaRuach Umorid HaGeshem” (“He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall”) - A daily mention of rain, inserted in the 2nd blessing of the Amidah prayer during the months between Shmini Atzeret and Pesach.
  • V'Ten Tal Umatar Livracha” (“And bestow dew and rain for blessing”) - A daily request for rain, inserted in the 9th blessing of the Amidah prayer during the months that Israel needs rain most.

Rain signifies the downpour of material blessings from the spiritual realm to this physical world
T’fillat Geshem

T’fillat Geshem is one of the solemn prayers of the year recited during the repetition of the Musaf Amidah on Shmini Atzeret. In some congregations, the Chazzan wears a white cloak and hat (as on Yom Kippur), and recites the prayer in a solemn High Holiday style melody.

T’fillat Geshem consists of a collection of liturgy said to accompany the commencement of the insertion “Mashiv Haruach Umorid Hageshem” in the 2nd blessing of the Amidah prayer. T’fillat Geshem commences with the mention of the angel of rain “Af-Bri is designated as the name of the angel of rain”; this angel’s name connotes the two styles of rainfall:

  • "Af" means "Anger", referring to torrential flood-provoking rainfall.
  • "Bri” denotes "Health", and corresponds to the gentle rain which is beneficial to humanity and to the environment in general.


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Mitzvot » Prayer » About

Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Highlight of every prayer, recited silently while standing. Weekday Amidah consists of nineteen blessings, Sabbath and holiday Amidah contains seven blessings.
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
Shmini Atzeret
A joyous one-day autumn festival immediately following the holiday of Sukkot. Outside Israel this holiday is celebrated for two days, the second day is known as Simchat Torah.
The additional prayer service added (after the morning prayers) on Sabbath, Biblically mandated holidays and the first day of the Jewish month.
The eighth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to October-November.
Passover. A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
A cantor, or any individual who leads the congregation in prayer.
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.