Mayim Mayim Everywhere!


These long, rainy days have us wondering when it will ever stop. And the moment it does, we run outside to enjoy the brief hours of dry weather before the next onslaught.

Certainly we’re grateful for the break from California’s long years of drought. But still, some days it feels like we should build a new Noah’s Ark in our backyard and start collecting animals two by two!

With all this extra indoor time I’m spending this rainy season, I decided to do a little investigating into traditional Jewish thought about rain.

Did you know that the popular Israeli folk dance “Mayim Mayim” was written in 1937 by Emanuel Pugashov Amiran using lines from the Book of Isaiah, chapter 12 verse 3, [3] “With joy you shall draw water from the springs of salvation”? (1)

Mayim Mayim
Ushavtem mayim b’sason mimainei hayeshua
Mayim mayim mayim mayim, hey, mayim b’sason
Mayim mayim mayim mayim, hey, mayim b’sason
Hey, hey, hey, hey

Hey, hey, I bet you didn’t know that!

Biblical Israel was a pretty dry place and so there are ancient prayers and historic tales relating to rain or lack thereof.

You’ll find some rainmaking advice in the Torah in Leviticus:
“If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; then I will give your rains in their season, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will yield fruit.” (Leviticus 26:3-4)
Followed by:
“But if you will not listen unto Me, and will not do all these commandments… and I will make your heaven as iron.” (Leviticus 26:15…19)

As an agricultural society, praying for rain is integral to religious practice during the winter season. From the end of Shmini Atzeret in the fall to the reawakening of Spring at Passover, the following extra words are added to the traditional Amidah morning prayer: “And give dew and rain for a blessing.”

There’s even a wonderful Hasidic tale about Honi the Circle Maker who brought rain to the drought stricken people of Israel.

Apparently, rainmaking skills ran in the family for there’s a later story about the grandson of Honi who also was called on to bring rain to his community. The delightful, instructional tale can be found in this story about Abba Chilkiah on

Lastly, a little reminder from a Midrash from Genesis about why rain is important and we should love every last (and seemingly everlasting) drop of rain:

B’reshit Rabbah 13:3
“Three things are of equal importance: earth, humans and rain…each word (in Hebrew) has three letters to teach us that without earth, there is no rain, and without rain, the earth cannot endure, and without either, humanity cannot exist.” (4)

So, next time the rains start falling, don’t complain. Instead, grab a partner or two and do a little Jewish rain dance “Mayim Mayim.”

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Mimi Sells

Written by Mimi Sells

Mimi was the OFJCC’s Senior Advisor for Special Projects, which means she worked on top secret activities which included spearheading the creation of the Oasis Play Space. She believes a healthy life includes walking 10,000 steps a day and eating the four basic food groups: chocolate, cookies, ice cream and candy.

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