THE GREATNESS OF RAIN
(R. Avahu): The day of rainfall is greater than that of Techiyas ha'Meisim, as the rain benefits both Tzadikim and Reisha'im.
This disagrees with R. Yosef who said that rainfall is equal to Techiyas ha'Meisim and was therefore placed in the same Berachah in the Amidah.
(R. Yehudah): The day of rainfall is as great as the day when the Torah was given, as the Pasuk says that Hash-m's "Lekach" shall fall as rain, and another Pasuk refers to the Torah as a good Lekach (purchase).
(Rava): It is greater than the day the Torah was given, as if the Pasuk compares Torah to rain, rain must be the greater thing.
Question (Rava): This Pasuk says the Torah will pound as rain, but another Pasuk compares it to dew!?
Answer: It will descend as dew on a suitable Talmid Chacham, but it will batter as pounding rain anyone else.
The Torah is an elixir of life for anyone who studies it Lishmah, and a poison for anyone who does not study it Lishmah, as seen in Pesukim.
VARIOUS COMPARISONS IN AGADAH
R. Zeira felt too faint to teach R. Yirmiyah, so he told him an Agadic teaching:
A Pasuk refers to man as a tree.
One Pasuk tells us to eat a tree's fruit and not to harm it, whereas another tells us to cut it down.
This means that if the person is a proper Talmid Chacham, we should 'eat of his fruit,' otherwise we should avoid him.
A Pasuk refers to iron sharpening iron; likewise, Talmidei Chachamim sharpen each other.
A Pasuk compares Torah to fire; just as a fire cannot be lit with only one stick, so too Torah is not established in someone who learns alone.
A Pasuk alludes to a curse on Talmidei Chachamim who study alone; it also alludes to their growing foolish, and to it being sinful.
A Pasuk compares Torah to wood; just as a small stick can set fire to a big stick, so do junior Torah students sharpen senior scholars.
In the same vein, R. Chanina said that he had learned much from his teachers, and even more from his peers, and even more from his students.
TORAH IS COMPARED TO WATER
One Pasuk says that water should be brought to the thirsty, while another says that the thirsty should go to water.
The allegorical resolution is that if the student is worthy, his teacher should travel to him; otherwise, he should travel to his teacher.
One Pasuk says that the waters shall spread out, while another says that they shall be for you alone.
The allegorical resolution is that if the student is worthy, tell him the secrets of the Torah; otherwise, keep them to yourself.
Torah is compared to water in that just as water flows to the lowest place, so does Torah only become established in the humble person.
Torah is compared to water, wine and milk in that just as these liquids can only be preserved in the cheapest types of vessels, so does Torah only become established in the humble person.
Caeser's daughter asked R. Yehoshua b. Chananya how such beautiful wisdom could be contained in such an ugly vessel.
He suggested that she place her father's expensive wines in suitably expensive containers of gold and silver; when she did so, they spoiled.
R. Yehoshua was challenged to explain beautiful people who are wise; he said that if they were ugly, they would be wiser.
Alternate explanation: Torah is compared to these three liquids in that they all require careful guarding.
THE GREATNESS OF RAIN
(R. Chama b. R. Chanina) The day of rainfall is as great as the day that Heaven and Earth were created.
(R. Oshiya) The day of rainfall is so great that salvation sprouts on it.
SINS STOPPING RAIN
(R. Tanchum b. Chanilai): The rains do not fall unless Israel's sins have been forgiven (there is a dispute regarding which Pasuk it is learned from).
(R. Tanchum b. R. Chiya): The rains are not withheld unless Israel is liable for destruction (there is a dispute regarding which Pasuk it is learned from).
(R. Chisda): The rains are withheld because of neglect of Terumah and Ma'aser.
(R. Shimon b. Pazi): The rains are withheld because of those who speak Lashon Hora.
(R. Sela citing R. Hamnuna): The rains are withheld because of those who are brazen.
Anyone who is brazen will eventually sin in illicit relationships.
(R. Nachman): Anyone who is brazen has clearly already sinned in illicit relationships.
(Rabah bar R. Huna): It is permitted to call a brazen person "Rasha."
(R. Nachman bar Yitzchak): It is permitted to hate him.
(R. Katina): The rains are withheld because of Bitul Torah (there is a dispute regarding awhich Pasuk it is learned from).
(R. Ami): The rains are withheld because of people stealing.
(R. Ami): A Pasuk refers to an effect of blunted iron being caused by damage. This means...
If the skies are like iron (not releasing rain), it is because of the wicked deeds of the generation.
The solution is for them to strengthen themselves in the trait of mercy.
They are in all the better a position if their deeds are proper in the first place.