The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
1. The order of these fasts is said only for the first rains. But if the sprouts wither, men blow an alarm off-hand. And if the rains cease between rain and rain forty days, men blow an alarm off-hand. Because it is a sign of famine.
2. If the rains came down for the sprouts, but did not come down for the trees, for the trees, but not for the sprouts, for both these, but not for the wells, pits, and caves, men must blow an alarm for them off-hand.
3. And so also for the city, on which the rain did not come down, as is written," 1 And I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city; one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered." This city fasts and blows an alarm, and all its neighbouring cities fast, but do not blow alarms. R. Akiba said, "they blow alarms, but do not fast."
4. And so for a city, in which there is pestilence, or falling of buildings, that city fasts and blows an alarm, and all the neighbouring cities fast, but do not blow an alarm. Rabbi Akiba said, "they blow alarms, but do not fast." "What is pestilence?" "A city containing five hundred men, and there go forth from it three dead in three days, one after the other; this is pestilence, less than this is not pestilence."
5. For these things men blow an alarm in every placefor the blasting and for the blighting, for the locust and for the caterpillar, and for the evil beast, and for the sword, they blow an alarm over them, because it is a spreading wound.
6. It happened that the elders went down from Jerusalem
to their cities, and proclaimed fasting, because the blasting appeared, as much as would fill an oven, in Askelon. And again they proclaimed a fast, because the wolves devoured two children beyond Jordan: Rabbi José said, "not because they devoured them, but because the wolves were seen."
7. For these things men blow an alarm on the Sabbathfor a city, encompassed by Gentiles, or by a flood, and for a ship tossed in the sea. Rabbi José said, "for help, but not for a cry of distress." Simon the Temanite said, "also for pestilence," but the Sages did not admit it.
8. For all distressmay it not come on the congregationmen sound an alarm, except for too much rain. It happened that they said to Honé Hammeagal, "pray that the rain come down:" he said to them, "go and bring in the passover ovens, that they be not dissolved." He prayed, but the rain did not come downWhat did he do? He dug a hole and stood in it, and said before HIM, "Our Lord of the world, thy sons have turned towards me, because I am a son of the House in Thy Presence. I am sworn in Thy great Name, that I move not from hence, till Thou have pity on Thy children." The rain began to drop; he said, "I did not ask it thus, but rains for wells, pits, and caves." The rain began to descend with storm. He said, "I did not ask it thus, but reasonable rain, with blessing and free will." The showers came down as they ought, until all Israel went up from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives on account of the rains. They came and said to him, "as thou hast prayed that the rains should come down, so pray that they may depart." He said to them, "go and see if the Stone of Proclamation 1 be covered." Simon the son of Shatach sent to him word, "if thou wert not Honé, I would excommunicate thee; but what shall I do to thee, since thou prayest before OMNIPRESENCE, and He does thy will, as a son who plays upon his father, and he does his will? and for thee the Scripture says, 'Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.'" 2
9. "If men were fasting, and the rains came down for them before the sun rose?" "They need not complete the day." "If the rains came down after sunrise?" "They must complete it." R. Eliezer said, "before noon they need not complete it, if after noon they must complete it." It happened, that the rulers proclaimed a fast in Lydda, and the rains came down in the forenoon. Said R. Tarpon, "go and eat, and drink, and make holiday." They went and ate and drank, and made holiday, and they came in the evening and read the great Thanksgiving. 1
163:1 Amos iv. 7.
164:1 A stone on which lost property was deposited, and publication of it was made, so that its owner might reclaim it.
164:2 Prov. xxiii. 25.
165:1 Psalm cxxxvi.