Prayer for Dew
DEW, PRAYER FOR, prayer incorporated into the liturgy because Ereẓ Israel depended on the moisture of *dew during the long, dry summers. As with rainfall, dew was held to be a heavenly blessing, and its absence a divine punishment (cf. Gen. 27:28, 39; Deut. 33:13; Judg. 6:37–40). The end of the rainy season and the beginning of summer is liturgically marked by a special prayer for dew, called Tefillat Tal (among Ashkenazim) or Tikkun Tal (among Sephardim), which forms part of the Additional Service (Musaf) of the first day of Passover, since it was held that the "stores of dew" are opened on this day (PdRE 32). The prayer is recited at the reader's repetition of the Additional Service Amidah. In the Ashkenazi ritual the prayer consists of a series of acrostic piyyutim (the central one Taḥat Eilat Ofer by Eleazar Kallir) and an invocation in six stanzas ending with: "For Thou art the Lord our God, who causes the wind to blow and the dew to descend," and with the plea: "For a blessing and not for a curse; For life and not for death; For plenty and not for famine; Amen." Nowadays, the piyyutim are generally omitted and in Israel the prayer is sometimes said after the Torah scrolls are returned to the ark and before the Additional Service. In Israel all rites have adopted the Sephardi custom of inserting the phrase: "Thou causest the dew to descend" (morid ha-tal) in every Amidah at the beginning of the second benediction in the period beginning with the first day of Passover and ending with Shemini Aẓeret when the Prayer for Rain is said. The Prayer for Dew and the Prayer for Rain are part of the service in all Jewish rituals including the Conservative and Reform trends who recite them, however, in shortened versions. In traditional Ashkenazi synagogues the reader wears a kittel ("shroud") for the Prayer for Dew (as he does on the Day of Atonement) and intones the Kaddish before the Musaf service in the melody of the Day of Atonement (Sh. Ar., OḤ 114).
Davidson, Oẓar, 1 (1924), 236; 3 (1930), 526; Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 214f.; idem, in: HUCA, 3 (1926), 215–24.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.