Is there a source to the idea of "When it rains it pours" (misfortunes or difficult situations tend to follow each other in rapid succession or to arrive all at the same time) in Judaism?

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  • 1
    Possibly the opposite idea in Berachot 59a: גמירי דזעפא תרתי שעי לא קאי "we have a tradition that a storm doesn't last two hours" based on Nahum 1:9: לֹֽא־תָק֥וּם פַּעֲמַ֖יִם צָרָֽה – b a Sep 15 '19 at 8:23
  • The Talmud somewhere says "היינו דאמרי אינשי בתר עניא אזלא עניותא" IIRC. Probably it's Googlable. – msh210 Sep 15 '19 at 21:59
  • @msh210 Thought of it myself. That's just for poor men, so it's not what I'm looking for. – Alaychem Remember Monica Sep 16 '19 at 5:43

The idea appears in Amos 5:19 in describing the succession of troubles that will happen on the day of God (text and translation from Sefaria):

כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָנ֥וּס אִישׁ֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י הָאֲרִ֔י וּפְגָע֖וֹ הַדֹּ֑ב וּבָ֣א הַבַּ֔יִת וְסָמַ֤ךְ יָדוֹ֙ עַל־הַקִּ֔יר וּנְשָׁכ֖וֹ הַנָּחָֽשׁ׃

As if a man should run from a lion
And be attacked by a bear;
Or if he got indoors,
Should lean his hand on the wall
And be bitten by a snake!

Berachot 13a alludes to this verse in its description of Israel's later troubles causing the earlier ones to be forgotten:

משל למה הדבר דומה לאדם שהיה מהלך בדרך ופגע בו זאב וניצל ממנו והיה מספר והולך מעשה זאב פגע בו ארי וניצל ממנו והיה מספר והולך מעשה ארי פגע בו נחש וניצל ממנו שכח מעשה שניהם והיה מספר והולך מעשה נחש אף כך ישראל צרות אחרונות משכחות את הראשונות

To what is this comparable? To a person who was walking along the way and a wolf accosted him and he survived it, and he continued to relate the story of the wolf. A lion accosted him and he survived it, and he continued to relate the story of the lion. A snake accosted him and he survived it, he forgot both the lion and the wolf, and he continued to relate the story of the snake. Each encounter was more dangerous and each escape more miraculous than the last, so he would continue to relate the most recent story. So too with Israel; more recent troubles cause the earlier troubles to be forgotten.

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  • That is specific to the "Day of god", I'm looking for more General answer. BTW, why there is an "Or" in the verse translation? It should be "Afterwards" or something like this. – Alaychem Remember Monica Sep 15 '19 at 8:50
  • @Alaychem The gemara alludes to the verse but applies it to Israel's experiences in general. And I agree "and when" is a better translation than "or if" here – b a Sep 15 '19 at 11:30

In Bava Batra 12b we find the idea that once one is in a state of fortune or misfortune it is hard to get out of that state, and therefore fortune will generally follow fortune and misfortune will generally follow misfortune:

א"ר יוחנן מיום שחרב בית המקדש ניטלה נבואה מן הנביאים וניתנה לשוטים ולתינוקות לשוטים מאי היא כי הא דמר בר רב אשי דהוה קאי ברסתקא דמחוזא שמעיה לההוא שוטה דקאמר ריש מתיבתא דמליך במתא מחסיא טביומי חתים אמר מאן חתים טביומי ברבנן אנא שמע מינה לדידי קיימא לי שעתא קם אתא אדאתא אימנו רבנן לאותביה לרב אחא מדפתי ברישא כיון דשמעי דאתא שדור זוגא דרבנן לגביה לאימלוכי ביה עכביה הדר שדור זוגא דרבנן אחרינא עכביה גביה עד דמלו בי עשרה כיון דמלו בי עשרה פתח הוא ותנא ודרש לפי שאין פותחין בכלה פחות מעשרה קרי רב אחא אנפשיה כל המריעין לו לא במהרה מטיבין לו וכל המטיבין לו לא במהרה מריעין לו

R. Johanan said: Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children. How given to fools? — The case of Mar son of R. Ashi will illustrate. He was one day standing in the manor of Mahuza when he heard a certain lunatic exclaim: The man who is to be elected head of the Academy in Matha Mehasia signs his name Tabiumi. He said to himself: Who among the Rabbis signs his name Tabiumi? I do. This seems to show that my lucky time has come. So he quickly went to Matha Mehasia. When he arrived, he found that the Rabbis had voted to appoint R. Aha of Difti as their head. When they heard of his arrival, they sent a couple of Rabbis to him to consult him.6 He detained them with him, and they sent another couple of Rabbis. He detained these also, [and so it went on] until the number reached ten. When ten were assembled, he began to discourse and expound the Oral Law and the Scriptures, [having waited so long] because a public discourse [on them] should not be commenced if the audience is less than ten. R. Aha applied to himself the saying: If a man is in disfavour [with Heaven] he does not readily come into favour, and if a man is in favour he does not readily fall into disfavour.

(Soncino translation, my emphasis)

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