Today was the first day of rain this season in Jerusalem. As I was passing through a schoolyard of an elementary school where the children were enjoying recess, the drops began to fall.
Unprepared for rain, I immediately ran for cover under an awning, as two childhood chants reverberated in my head:
"Rain, rain go away, come again another day."
"It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring."
I reminisced about the days I spent in summer camp when a "rainy day" meant only one thing: staying inside the cabin… under the covers… in a grumpy mood.
Yet today as the rain began to fall harder, I noticed that I was the only one under the awning. The children were all twirling around in the rain with their hands out – as if gold was falling from the sky.
Don't they realize it's pouring? I thought to myself. Doesn't the water bother them?
I know that today's youth are different than in my day, but this was just too much.
I later got the answer to my question. At home, my three-year-old daughter came running over to me. "Abba, do you want to hear the song I learned today in school?"
Without further ado, to the tune of "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring," she began to sing:
"It's pouring, it's raining,
but we are not complaining.
Rain is a blessing from Hashem,
and we love geshem (rain)."
I was about to say that she got the words all wrong, but I stopped myself with a realization.
Growing up in New York, society fostered the feelings that rain is annoying and bothersome. But in Jerusalem, these children were being taught that rain is a wonderful blessing. (Indeed, the Torah describes Israel as a land that depends solely on rainfall – Deuteronomy 11:11.)
The Hebrew word for “education” is chinuch. Education means to set someone on solid independent footing, to enable him to assume the role he is destined to assume.
A more precise translation of chinuch, however, is “inaugurate.” Parents have an enormous responsibility – and opportunity – to set the stage for many of the feelings and outlooks their children will carry through life.
A child can be taught that circumstances are either good or bad. The more parents see the positive in all aspects of life, the greater the child will be able to appreciate all the amazing aspects of our world.
So is the old man snoring? Or is rain a blessing? It all depends on how you, the parent, make the song rhyme.