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    Why are we waiting?

    Rain_on_grassLife without rain is unimaginable.

    Prayers for rain are essential just before the onset of winter. This makes perfect sense in the northern hemisphere, notably Israel, though it seems somewhat problematical in the southern hemisphere.

    Sh’mini Atzeret is the last occasion on the High Holydays for the recital of the rain prayers.

    Why are we kept waiting until the end of Sukkot to say these prayers? Surely we should say them at the beginning of Sukkot!

    But if we pray for rain at the beginning of Sukkot we might not really mean it since rain would spoil the mitzvah of sitting in the sukkah.

    Further, Sh’mini Atzeret is a solemn final opportunity to repent (even though turning away from sins is possible any day of the year). Since rain is a sign of God’s blessing and approval, we need to utilise the final opportunity for repentance in order to deserve the rain.

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