עורפילא אפילו לפרצידא דתותי קלא מהניא ליה מאי עורפילא עורו פילי ואמר רבא האי צורבא מרבנן דמי לפרצידא דתותי קלא דכיון דנבט נבט
and drizzle [urpila] is even beneficial to a seed [partzida] under a clod of earth, as it can reach anywhere without causing any harm. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the word drizzle? The Gemara explains: It is a contraction of the phrase: Arise, furrows [uru pilei]. And the Gemara cites another saying in which Rava uses the same imagery. Rava said: This Torah scholar [tzurva] is like a seed under a clod of earth, as once he sprouts and begins to develop, he continues to sprout and his greatness increases.
ואמר רבא האי צורבא מרבנן דרתח אורייתא הוא דקא מרתחא ליה שנאמר (ירמיהו כג, כט) הלא כה דברי כאש נאם ה' ואמר רב אשי כל ת"ח שאינו קשה כברזל אינו ת"ח שנא' (ירמיהו כג, כט) וכפטיש יפוצץ סלע
§ And, incidentally, the Gemara relates that which Rava said: This Torah scholar who grows angry, it can be presumed that it is his Torah study that angers him. Therefore, he must be given the benefit of the doubt, as it is stated: “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:29). And similarly, Rav Ashi said: Any Torah scholar who is not as hard as iron, but is indecisive and wavers, he is not a Torah scholar, as it is stated in the same verse: “And as a hammer that breaks rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29).
א"ל רבי אבא לרב אשי אתון מהתם מתניתו לה אנן מהכא מתנינן לה דכתיב (דברים ח, ט) ארץ אשר אבניה ברזל אל תקרי אבניה אלא בוניה אמר רבינא אפ"ה מיבעי ליה לאיניש למילף נפשיה בניחותא שנאמר (קהלת יא, י) והסר כעס מלבך וגו'
Rabbi Abba said to Rav Ashi: You learned the proof for this idea from that verse there; we learned it from here, as it is written: “A land whose stones [avaneha] are iron” (Deuteronomy 8:9). Do not read this phrase as “whose stones [avaneha],” rather, read it as whose builders [boneha], since Torah scholars build the land spiritually and are as tough as iron. With regard to these statements praising the toughness of a Torah scholar, Ravina said: And even so, one is required to teach himself to act gently, as it is stated: “And remove anger from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh” (Ecclesiastes 11:10).
א"ר שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן שלשה שאלו שלא כהוגן לשנים השיבוהו כהוגן לאחד השיבוהו שלא כהוגן ואלו הן אליעזר עבד אברהם ושאול בן קיש ויפתח הגלעדי
As a preamble to the statement of Rabbi Berekhya, below, the Gemara cites that which Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Three people entreated God in an unreasonable manner, i.e., in situations where their requests might have received an unfavorable answer. To two of them God responded reasonably, with a favorable response to their requests, and to one God responded unreasonably, i.e., unfavorably, in a manner befitting the unreasonable request. And they are: Eliezer, servant of Abraham; Saul, son of Kish; and Jephthah the Gileadite.
אליעזר עבד אברהם דכתיב (בראשית כד, יד) והיה הנערה אשר אומר אליה הטי נא כדך וגו' יכול אפי' חיגרת אפי' סומא השיבו כהוגן ונזדמנה לו רבקה
The Gemara clarifies each of these cases in turn: With regard to Eliezer, servant of Abraham, he made a request when he prayed beside the well, as it is written: “That the maiden to whom I shall say: Please let down your pitcher that I may drink; and she shall say: Drink, and I will also give your camels to drink; that she be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac” (Genesis 24:14). Eliezer entreated God unreasonably, as his request allowed for the possibility that she might even be lame or even blind, and yet he had promised to take her to Isaac. Nevertheless, God responded to him reasonably and the eminently suitable Rebecca happened to come to him.
שאול בן קיש דכתיב (שמואל א יז, כה) והיה האיש אשר יכנו יעשרנו המלך עושר גדול ואת בתו יתן לו יכול אפי' עבד אפילו ממזר השיבו כהוגן ונזדמן לו דוד
With regard to Saul, son of Kish, he made an offer when Goliath the Philistine challenged the Jews, as it is written: “And it shall be that the man who kills him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter” (I Samuel 17:25). The man who killed Goliath might even have been a slave or a mamzer, one born from an incestuous or adulterous union, who would be unfit to marry his daughter. Nevertheless, God responded to him reasonably and David happened to come to him.
יפתח הגלעדי דכתיב (שופטים יא, לא) והיה היוצא אשר יצא מדלתי ביתי וגו' יכול אפילו דבר טמא השיבו שלא כהוגן נזדמנה לו בתו
By contrast, there is the case of Jephthah the Gileadite. Upon leaving for battle he issued a statement, as it is written: “Then it shall be that whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace…it shall be to the Lord and I will bring it up for a burnt-offering” (Judges 11:31). This might even have been an impure, non-kosher animal, which he had committed himself to sacrifice. In this instance, God responded to him unreasonably, and his daughter happened to come to him.
והיינו דקאמר להו נביא לישראל (ירמיהו ח, כב) הצרי אין בגלעד אם רופא אין שם
Regarding the incident of Jephthah, the Gemara remarks: And this is what the prophet said to the Jewish people: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22). This verse alludes to the fact that had he sought a means to do so, Jephthah could have had his vow annulled.
וכתיב (ירמיהו יט, ה) אשר לא צויתי ולא דברתי ולא עלתה על לבי
And it is written, with regard to human sacrifice: “And they have also built the high places of the Ba’al, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt offerings to Ba’al, which I did not command, and I did not speak, nor did it come into My heart” (Jeremiah 19:5).
אשר לא צויתי זה בנו של מישע מלך מואב שנאמר (מלכים ב ג, כז) ויקח את בנו הבכור אשר ימלך תחתיו ויעלהו עולה ולא דברתי זה יפתח ולא עלתה על לבי זה יצחק בן אברהם
The Gemara interprets each phrase of this verse: “Which I did not command,” this is referring to the son of Mesha, king of Moab. King Mesha sacrificed his son, as it is stated: “Then he took his firstborn son, who would reign after him, and he offered him as a burnt-offering” (II Kings 3:27). “And I did not speak,” this is referring to Jephthah, who sacrificed his daughter as an offering. “Nor did it come into my heart,” this is referring to Isaac, son of Abraham. Although God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, there was no intent in God’s heart that he should actually do so; it was merely a test.
אמר רבי ברכיה אף כנסת ישראל שאלה שלא כהוגן והקב"ה השיבה כהוגן שנא' (הושע ו, ג) ונדעה נרדפה לדעת את ה' כשחר נכון מוצאו ויבוא כגשם לנו
§ In light of the above statement, the Gemara returns to the issue of rain. Rabbi Berekhya said: The Congregation of Israel also entreated God unreasonably, and yet the Holy One, Blessed be He, responded reasonably, as it is stated: “And let us know, eagerly strive to know the Lord. His going forth is sure as the morning, and He will come to us as the rain” (Hosea 6:3). They compared the revelation of God to the rain.
אמר לה הקב"ה בתי את שואלת דבר שפעמים מתבקש ופעמים אינו מתבקש אבל אני אהיה לך דבר המתבקש לעולם שנאמר (הושע יד, ו) אהיה כטל לישראל
In response, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the Jewish people: My daughter, you request the manifestation of My Presence by comparing Me to a matter, rain, that is sometimes desired, but is sometimes undesired, e.g., during the summer. However, I will be to you like a matter that is always desired, dew, as it is stated: “I will be as the dew to Israel” (Hosea 14:6), since dew appears in all seasons and is invariably a blessing.
ועוד שאלה שלא כהוגן אמרה לפניו רבש"ע (שיר השירים ח, ו) שימני כחותם על לבך כחותם על זרועך א"ל הקב"ה בתי את שואלת דבר שפעמים נראה ופעמים אינו נראה אבל אני אעשה לך דבר שנראה לעולם שנאמר (ישעיהו מט, טז) הן על כפים חקותיך:
And the Congregation of Israel further entreated God unreasonably in another context, saying before Him: Master of the Universe: “Set me as a seal upon Your heart, as a seal upon Your arm” (Song of Songs 8:6). The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to her: My daughter, you ask that I be manifest to you in a matter that is sometimes visible and sometimes not visible, as the heart and arm are not covered. However, I will act so that I manifest Myself for you like a matter that is always visible, as it is stated: “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands, your walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:16).
אין שואלין את הגשמים כו': סברוה שאלה והזכרה חדא מילתא היא מאן תנא אמר רבא ר' יהושע היא דאמר משעת הנחתו
§ The Gemara returns to the halakhot of the mishna: One requests rain only immediately preceding the rainy season. The Sages assumed that requesting and mentioning are one and the same thing, and consequently they asked: Who is the tanna who taught this halakha? The Gemara answers that Rava said: It is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, who said that one mentions rain from the time of putting down the lulav, i.e., the Eighth Day of Assembly, which is indeed near the rainy season.
א"ל אביי אפילו תימא רבי אליעזר שאלה לחוד והזכרה לחוד
Abaye said to him: Even if you say that it is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, who holds that one mentions rain from the first day of the festival of Sukkot, this ruling of the mishna can be explained by distinguishing between the two terms: Requesting is a discrete concept and mentioning is another discrete concept. In other words, even according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, one begins to request rain just before the rainy season, on the Eighth Day of Assembly, whereas one starts to mention rain already on the first day of Sukkot.
ואיכא דאמרי לימא
And some say a different version of this discussion: Let us say