In Parshas Va'era, we learn about the plague of hail. Moshe Rabbeinu warns Pharaoh, “At this time tomorrow, I am going to cause heavy hail to rain down.” Rashi explains that Moshe made a scratch on the wall, to show Pharaoh that when the sun hits that spot the next day, that's when the hail will strike. In effect, what Moshe made was a sundial.
However, if you take a closer look at this sundial, something appears a bit peculiar. Rabbi Shimshon Pincus points out that when the weather is stormy, the sky is cloudy and the sun doesn't shine, which makes a sundial useless. If so, how are we to understand Rashi's explanation?
Rav Pincus explains that during a typical rainstorm, the clouds offer a necessary separation between Heaven and earth. When Hashem gives us rain, He sends it with so much love and benevolence that the brachah is too overwhelming for us to handle. The clouds therefore filter the intensity of the brachah to make it more manageable to us. Although the clouds are separating us from Hashem, their ultimate purpose is to draw us closer to Him, since we wouldn't be capable of receiving His brachah without them.
In contrast, the plague of hail didn't come with love and brachah; it was a punishment! As such, there was no need for clouds to filter the intensity of a brachah. The hail fell directly with fire and fury – all while the sun shone in full strength.
They say every cloud has a silver lining, but perhaps it's the other way around - every silver lining has a cloud. If we sometimes feel that Hashem is up in the clouds, and we don't feel His closeness, perhaps that's an indication that He's giving us so much love that He has to filter it so that we can accept it. Our task is to work on ourselves to see Hashem's love in every situation so that we can merit to receive His blessings without any interference!
~ Rabbi Aharon Leiberman is a morning seder Rebbi and an administrative assistant at Lev Zion.