by: Janet Aslin
Monday, 27 September 2021 | The city of Jerusalem woke on Friday morning to raindrops on cars and wet pavement on the roads and parking lots. Later that afternoon while we, a group of Bridges for Peace volunteers, were listening to a teaching on Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Tabernacles), we felt raindrops coming through the palm-thatched roof of our sukkah (booth). The return of the early rains after the dry, hot summer is cause for additional rejoicing during the joyful season of Sukkot.
This year’s “early rain” began right on schedule. Typically, the season for rain should last from the fall feast of Sukkot until the spring feast of Pesach (Passover). According to the My Jewish Learning website, “a short prayer for rain is inserted into the second blessing of the Amidah Prayer” tomorrow (Shmini Atzeret or the Eighth Day of Sukkot) and will be recited until Pesach.
The Lord set a pattern for the annual rainy season when He brought the Jewish people out of Egypt and gave them the Promised Land. As he relayed the instructions of God to the Israelites, Moses included these words: “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil” (Deut. 11:13–14).
Although 80% of Israel’s drinking water comes from desalinated sea water, the early rains are important for agriculture as they soften the parched ground to prepare it for planting winter crops. And it seems that the entire nation pays attention to the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), rejoicing when it is full and anxiously awaiting the winter rains when it is not.
Equally important, though not visible, are the underground aquifers which contribute water needed for agriculture. The Kinneret, streams and rivers and the aquifers are all dependent on the rain that falls from heaven. Even with five massive desalination plants, the Land of Israel still needs and welcomes the early and the latter rains.
While most of us were not prepared for rain in the sukkah last Friday, we rejoiced. Our teacher paused in her presentation of the wedding feast and we all glanced upward with smiles on our faces. Perhaps the best expression though, was that of the eight-year-old daughter of one of our Israeli staff members—she jumped up and dashed out of the sukkah to fully embrace the first raindrops of the season!
Posted on September 27, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 27, 2021)
Photo Credit: Mary Lee Becker/bridgesforpeace.com
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