Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

How's the Weather?

Rabbi Dovid Kleiner

Though meteorology has been around since the days of Aristotle (who coined the term), much of what we now know about weather systems has only been revealed with the advent of modern equipment such as radar and satellites. Yet we find many statements regarding weather predictions and conditions in words of Chazal written some 2,000 years ago — many of which can be understood only now, as meteorologists continue to uncover secrets of Creation.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Gemara (Taanis 2a) states that there are three phenomena that do not follow any laws that Hashem set into nature, but are contingent entirely upon Hashem’s direct intervention: death, childbirth, and rainfall. 

Because these three phenomena are not subject to specific laws of nature, it stands to reason that they cannot be predicted.

Modern science has borne out what this gemara teaches. In general, natural events occur based on a set of rules that do not change. In most scientific disciplines, scientists can predict the results of almost any process with great certainty. For instance, a physicist testing a physical system can predict the results of his efforts as long as he takes into account the various forces that are at play in the system.

An exception to this rule is weather prediction. Weather prediction is so complex, and involves so many factors, that even the most proficient meteorologists are unable to predict the weather — even for the immediate future — with perfect precision. And they are certainly unable to provide an accurate long-range weather forecast.

Why is the weather so much less predictable than other natural forces? The Torah provides the answer: the behavior of the weather — and rainfall in particular — reflects the behavior of mankind. Hashem determines the weather based on people’s behavior (especially their conduct in interpersonal relationships), and adjusts the weather according to what human beings deserve to receive.

The Mishnah in Maseches Taanis refers to the phenomenon of rainfall as “gevuros geshamim,” which literally means “the might of rain.” Rabbi Ovadiah Bartenura explains: “Rainfall is one of HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s mighty deeds, as the verse states, ‘He does great things that cannot be estimated, wonders that cannot be counted; He provides rain to the land and sends water upon the streets’ (Iyov 5). That is why it is called gevuros geshamim.”

In order to gain a better understanding of the wondrous nature of rainfall, let us study the natural processes that create weather patterns.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Out with the Girls
Yonoson Rosenblum Another progressive revolution that eats its own
And I Will Glorify Him
Eytan Kobre Herman Wouk “made G-d a bestseller”
What You've Learned
Alexandra Fleksher Allow me to let you in on what school is all about
Going Broke
Mishpacha Readers Reader feedback for “The Kids Are Going to Camp..."
Top 5 Ways Jews Try to Lose Weight
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Gaining weight and talking about losing weight
He Soaked Up Our Pain
Rabbi Yaakov Klein A tribute to Reb Shlomo Cheshin ztz”l
Leaving on a High Note
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman And then it happened. I knew it would
Family Matters
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP Not the answers they teach in medical school
Play the Night Away
Riki Goldstein May we all share simchahs, no strings attached!
Fast Thinking
Faigy Peritzman How we react when we're exempt from a mitzvah
Baalat Teshuvah
Rachel Karasenti Don’t ask, “So how did you become frum?”
Confessions of a PhD Graduate
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When it comes to parenting, we’re always learning
Dear Favorite Little Sis
Anonymous I ended up wanting to be like you
Who's Making My Phone Calls?
Sara Eisemann Should I be upfront that I’m calling for myself?