The second paragraph of the Sh’ma prayer begins with G–d’s exhortation to keep the mitzvot that He is commanding us in order that “I will provide rain for your land in its proper time…” (The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 92). Rain is one of the three things that G-d keeps control of for Himself and that do not conform with predictable laws of nature. It is not for naught that we laugh about the inaccurate weather forecasts and take them for what they are: predictions which may be right or may be wrong. And if this is so for the world in general, it applies even more so to Israel, a land that G-d especially watches over.
We have experienced little rain here since we made Aliyah. Coming from the Northeast United States where it can rain for days no matter what time of year, we feel that we are enjoying the beautiful weather of a different climate. But although that may be true for summer months, it is not normal here for this time of year and is only increasing the severity of the drought that’s been troubling Israel for the last several years. We have not seen the rains we were told would start after Sukkot.
The drought has become so worrisome that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has declared today, Monday, November 29th a day of fasting and praying for rain, the second fast day declared within a week. Last Friday’s front page of the Jerusalem Post English edition featured an article about the dangerously low level of Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, this November having been the driest since record-keeping began in 1927.
A friend of ours has a different take on this year’s unusually dry rainy season. The building freeze which was enacted here in the Yehuda and Shomron regions was to last for 10 months, ending at the beginning of September. He noted that ten is a very odd number to be used under these circumstances — ordinarily a 3-month, 6-month, 9-month period would be considered. Why ten months? Because the end of those ten months, he realized, would coincide with the usual beginning of the rains in Israel, when it is difficult to build, which would effectively extend the freeze for several more months. Without rain, however, new construction has industriously resumed. G-d controls the rains and, evidently, the construction timetable as well.