We are about to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot. The Mishna in Rosh Hashana דף טז.() teaches us that during this holiday the entire world is judged concerning the amount of rainfall which will descend upon the earth. The Gemara in Taanit דף ב.() writes that there are three keys which remain in the hand of Hashem which He never gave over to a messenger: the key of rainfall, the key of childbirth, and the key of the revival of the dead. Since the judgement for rain affects the whole world, Sukkot, therefore, is not a holiday for the Jewish nation alone. Rather it is a holiday which truly is universal. This is illustrated by the Gemara in Sukkah (דף נה:) which states that the seventy cows which were offered as the mussaf sacrifices of Sukkot (as recorded in Parshat Pinchas) correspond to the seventy nations of the world. Rashi explains that the purpose of the sacrifices was to ask forgiveness so that the proper amount of rain would fall upon the world. Rabbi Yochanan comments, "Woe to the non-Jewish nations that they have lost something, and they don't even know what they have lost. During the time of the Bet Hamikdash the altar acted as forgiveness for them, and now who is going to act as forgiveness for them." The Gemara in Sukkah דף לז:() explains that one of the reasons for waving the ארבע מינים during Sukkot is to hold back bad weather.
As we celebrate the holiday and contemplate our local situation of near drought conditions (due to a very dry summer) as well as all of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, we must realize our responsibility to pray and fulfill mitzvot with greater zeal so that we can correct these problems on behalf of humanity. Our obligation of being the chosen nation requires us to pray not only for ourselves but for all of mankind. May we realize our obligation and try to repent from our sins, correct our ways and follow the proper path of Hashem in a joyous manner. In that way we can take the place of the מזבח and benefit all of mankind.
May this new year of 6575 allow us to reach our potential in learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvot. May Hashem grant us the ability to transmit these lessons to our children and students and in that merit may we be judged this Sukkot for a year of sufficient rainfall in its proper time (after Sukkot), as well as good weather.