By Phyllis Shapiro
On Shmini Atzeret during mussaf, we add a special tefillah for rain. As part of the tefillah we mention some of the great men in our history and ask Hashem to grant us rain in their merit.
This tefillah presents an opportunity to include some of the great women of our heritage as well. Specifically Miriam seems missing from this prayer for water. Miriam in whose merit we had water in the desert for so many years, who stood on the banks of the Nile to watch over her baby brother, who led the women in song and dance at the Red Sea. How can we overlook her when praying for rain?
In response to this omission of women from the geshem prayers, a number of piyutim have been composed that I have seen, as addenda or supplements to this important prayer for rain. I quote a stanza from one of them below.
זְכוֹר יוֹצֵאת לְעֵת עֶרֶב לִשְׁאוֹב מַיִם
חֶסֶד מִכַּדָהּ זוֹרֵם כַּמַּיִם
בְּשָׁמְעָה הַגְמִיאִינִי נָא מְעַט מַיִם
שָׁאֲבָה עַד כִּלּוּ הַגְּמַלִּים לִשְׁתוֹת מַיִם
בְּצִדְקָהּ חוֹן חַשְׁרַת מָיִם
(Full piyut available here: http://www.piyut.org.il/articles/578.html)
The Women's Tefillah Group I belong to (in St. Louis, MO) will be including such a piyyut in our Simchat Torah service. Perhaps others will want to do the same.
May we all be blessed with a good New Year.
Phyllis Shapiro, a new member of the JOFA board, is an attorney, raised in NYC, living and working in St. Louis for the past 30 years. She was the first woman president of an Orthodox shul in St. Louis (maybe in the midwest?), is married and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother of 10.