It rained yesterday.
In the northeastern United States, rain was just weather. It came, sometimes for days, but not always; and went, sometimes for weeks, but not always. It was inconvenient for carpool, trashed afternoons at the playground, and necessitated a lot of paraphernalia: umbrellas, boots, and raincoats. It made for bright green springs and lovely fall apples. If the temperatures dropped low enough the rain turned to snow, and we had clothes for that too.
Rain in Israel is entirely something else.
In a country where precipitation disappears for five to seven months at a stretch, in deference to a blistering sun that blots out all but a few wisps of clouds, the sight of fast-moving, grey thunderheads is welcome. It feels long overdue.
Rain in Israel is the stuff of prayer. As part of the liturgy on Sukkot, we add Tefilat Geshem (literally “rain prayer”) and begin to add supplications for rain to daily tefilah as well.
Rain in a desert land now settled by millions of people, and also populated by livestock and crops, is vitally important. It is something that we have no control over, other than to bring it to the forefront of our thoughts, insert it into our spiritual conversations, obsess over the level of the Kinneret (aka the Sea of Galilee, a source of Israel’s drinking water), watch as the government raises taxes on water usage, and try to wait patiently, scanning the skies. Every chance of a regional passing drizzle merits a mention on the national weather forecast.
During Sukkot, while we were walking around Neot Kedumim, we had a surprise three-minute sunshower. It was glorious. All the kids in the group were squealing, but every adult had a smile on their face. (Admittedly, it helps to have unexpected rainfall when the temperatures are in the 80s.)
Sukkot was nearly a month ago. Since then we’ve experienced a five-day sharav and a return to summer-like conditions. So naturally, the brief spates of rain yesterday morning, afternoon, and evening (totaling perhaps 10 to 15 minutes in our area), complete with thunder and lightening at one point, felt like a blessing. We were at the park during the first shower but felt no rush to come in out of the rain; rather we watched it play over the sandy ground covering, stuck out our tongues to catch the raindrops, and danced among the wind-driven water.
The dusty spatters on the cars, the oil-slick roads, the rush to unearth raincoats and fall clothes after the first rain are a small price to pay for the feeling that our prayers are being answered. Today, right now. We hope it will be so often during the rainy season. (Update: we’ve had a good solid half hour of rain right now. Yay!)
משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם