16 x 20 oil on canvas

Choni the Circle-Maker

It once happened that they petitioned Choni the Circle-Maker, “Pray that rain should fall.”

Said Choni to them, “Go, bring your Passover ovens indoors, so that they should not dissolve.”

Choni prayed, but no rain fell. What did he do? He drew a circle, stood inside it, and said to G‑d: “Master of the Universe! Your children turned to me because I am like a member of Your household. I swear by Your great name that I’m not budging from here until You have compassion on Your children!”

A rain began to drizzle.

Said Choni: “That’s not what I asked for. I asked for rains to fill the cisterns, trenches and reservoirs.”

The rains started coming down in torrents.

Said Choni: “That’s not what I asked for. I asked for rains of goodwill, blessing and generosity.”

A proper rain began to fall. But it continued to fall until the Jews went out of Jerusalem up onto the Temple Mount, because of the flooding caused by the rains. So they came to Choni and said: “Just as you prayed that the rains should fall, now pray that they should go away.” Said he to them: “Go and see if the Stone of Claims1 has dissolved yet . . .”

Shimon ben Shetach sent a message to Choni: “If not for the fact that you are Choni, I would have issued a decree of excommunication against you. But what can I do against you, who unburdens himself before the Almighty and He fulfills your wish, like a child who unburdens himself before his father and his father fulfills his wish . . .”

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