The Gemara in Taanis 2a mentions rain as one of the items that Hashem never gives the key of which over to a messenger.

אמר ר' יוחנן ג' מפתחות בידו של הקב''ה שלא נמסרו ביד שליח ואלו הן מפתח של גשמים, ומפתח של חיה, ומפתח של תחיית המתים. מפתח של גשמים דכתיב {דברים כח-יב} יפתח ה' לך את אוצרו הטוב את השמים לתת מטר ארצך בעתו‏

The question is how it's then that we have an angel called Af Beri whom we call the angel of rain in Tefilas geshem.

אַף בְּרִי אֻתַּת שֵׁם שַׂר מָטָר לְהַעֲבִיב וּלְהַעֲנִין לְהָרִיק וּלְהַמְטַר...‏

More confusing its that we find later on in Taanis 25b that the angel who is in charge of rain is called Ridiya.

אמר רבה לדידי חזי לי האי רידיא דמי לעיגלא (תלתא) ופירסא שפוותיה וקיימא בין תהומא תתאה לתהומא עילאה לתהומא עילאה‏

:רש"י: האי רידיא. מלאך הממונה על הגשמים כך שמו‏

How does any of this add up?

  • Maybe it means human messenger? Although I don't know if I would translate it as messenger. +1 though Oct 21, 2014 at 2:54
  • The source of "Af Bri" is in Iyov 37:11 - toratemetfreeware.com/online/f_01453.html#HtmpReportNum0037_L2 Oct 21, 2014 at 9:14
  • @Danny Schoemann I have seen that, thank you. But I'm not sure if I would call that the source vs the gemara, the pashut pshat stands on its own regardless of what chazzal said, see the metzudos there. And thank you for the wonderful editing and links.
    – user6591
    Oct 21, 2014 at 14:58
  • @user6591 I don't quite follow your last comment... The Paytan is definitely alluding to the verse; notice the next word in the verse is Yatriach which opens the next stanza of the Piyut.
    – Double AA
    Feb 7, 2017 at 2:55
  • @Double, Its been a while, but I think what I meant was this: Danny, I assumed, was saying that a passuk mentioned this malach which I took as an assault on the gemara's assertion (I think that was what I meant by vs). I pointed out that the passuk didn't necessarily mean af beri was a malach, as the first pshat in metzudos states. Even though Rashi and metzudos in the 2nd pshat say it means an angel, it doesn't have to mean that. But I see why this comment is unclear.
    – user6591
    Feb 7, 2017 at 3:12

3 Answers 3


Bzir Aviezer - Rabbi Chaim Aviezer Morgenstern Zatzal explains as follows based on the Gemara in Taanis 10a which says that Hashem gives rain to Eretz Yisrael by himself and other locations through a messenger. Rabbi Yochanan who was in Eretz Yisrael said that rain comes directly from Hashem. Raba who was out of Eretz Yisrael saw the Malach Ridiya who is in charge of the rain outside Eretz Yisrael. He finishes that there are perhaps two angels in charge outside Eretz Yisrael (Ridiya & Af Bri), depending on the type of rain.

  • 1
    +1 for linking someone who addresses this issue. I will wait till I get home to check the link as Hebrew books and my phone don't get along. Off the bat it doesn't sound like I'm going to like his answer being that he is making a distinction between eretz yisroel and the rest of the world which theoretically would have halachic ramifications. Also if what you mean by types of rain is referring to geshem vs mattar, than that is a different can of worms.
    – user6591
    Oct 21, 2014 at 15:03
  • @user6591 The Chumash makes that distinction. see Ramban on "lo keretz mitzrayim asher hishkeisa braglecha kgan hayerek."
    – LN6595
    Oct 23, 2016 at 19:20

Tosafos in masechs Nidah 16b s.v. Malach raise this issue and answer that Af Bri is in fact the angel in charge of rain, however he only acts with permission of Hashem.

ואף ברי (איוב לז) שהוא שר מטר אין עושה אלא ברשות הקב״ה

(This of course implies that other angels have some type of free will in their missions. See this Mi Yodeya Q & A.)

The original question Tosafos was bothered with was the seeming contradiction between the gemara there and the gemara in Taanis 2a whether or not an angel or Hashem Himself are in charge of childbirth. Tosafos answered that an angel can be in charge for a temporary time, but not on permanent basis. Tosafos HaRosh there offered a different answer. He said that Hashem begins the childbirth process and afterwards gives it over to the malach to deal with.

י׳ל דהקב׳ה נותן לאשה הריון ואח׳ך מתעסק בה המלאך

This answer of Tosafos HaRosh would seemingly apply to answer the question about Af Bri as well.

  • As an aside, these types of answers would also answer the contradiction of whether there was a mashchis in mitzraim killing the bechorim, or it was Hashem and not a malach, Ani Vilo Malach.
    – user6591
    Feb 21, 2017 at 0:29
  • What the parallel of pregnancy be here? Overcastness?
    – Double AA
    Feb 21, 2017 at 0:34
  • Double not sure what you are asking.
    – user6591
    Feb 21, 2017 at 0:38
  • Tosfot Rosh says, in the case of childbirth, that God is involved in the first step, in that case conception, and an angel takes over. To take this to Af Bri, we need to establish what that first step is that God does and what the part after is that the angel does. So what is it? Does God make it overcast and an angel actually brings down the water?
    – Double AA
    Feb 21, 2017 at 1:46
  • @Double I see. I couldn't say exactly and I'm not going to guess, but it is a process that theoretically Hashem begins and then hands off to an angel. Much like impregnation to childbirth.
    – user6591
    Feb 21, 2017 at 3:28

It could very well be that there was a Malach / Shliach - but then you can say that these keys were never entrusted to anyone but Hashem!

Rashi on Taanis 2a: https://www.sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Taanit.2a.12.1?lang=he&with=all&lang2=he

Rashi explains that these 3 keys were never entrusted to a Shliach all together at once - but one of them may be entrusted to somebody else - for example: the key of rain was entrusted to a Malach

Also - Tosfos in Nida 16b: https://www.sefaria.org/Tosafot_on_Niddah.16b.12.1?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en

Tosfos explains that there indeed was a Malach - but the Malach only acted on Hashem's command

Tosfos then continued to say that these 3 keys may be entrusted to someone - just not permanently

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