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Waiting for Rain

September 8, 2022

by: Janet Aslin

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Rainy skies over Jerusalem

Thursday, 8 September 2022 | It has been a long, hot, dry summer. Of course, that’s not unusual in Israel where the rainy season typically lasts from October until early May. Still, by September there is a longing for that first gentle soaking rain to blanket the Land.

There have been a few signs of the coming rain—puffy clouds with gray centers that looked like they might deliver a few raindrops or the weather forecast that called for slight drizzle in Jerusalem on September 6. Sadly, neither of these proved accurate. Although in the past rain has fallen in late August/early September, it is still a bit early for the rainy season to begin.

When can we expect rain? If you were to ask that question of an Israeli, you would probably receive this answer: “On Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles or Booths).” Some Israelis are certain that rain will fall on the first day of the feast, while others believe the official beginning of the rainy season is Shemini Atzeret (eighth day of solemn assembly or Sukkot), when a prayer for rain is added to the Jewish people’s liturgy. “My Jewish Learning” offers this explanation for the timing of the addition: “The prayer is delayed until Shemini Atzeret because it should not be invoked when fine weather is needed to enable us to dwell in the sukkah (Talmud, Sukkah28b).

So, if the weather patterns follows tradition, we have a few more weeks to go. This year, Sukkot begins the evening of October 9 and Shemini Atzeret on the evening of October 16.

Not everyone agrees with this assessment however. This June, Israel Hayom published an article that posed the question, “Will rain in the summer soon be the norm?” This year there were still sprinkles in June, and according to researchers, “An analysis of rainy days in the country going back as far as 1860 indicates that Israel’s rainy season has gradually shifted to both start and end later on in the year.”

As if in agreement, the Upper Galilee region experienced a short but fairly heavy rain shower on August 21. The Jerusalem Post quoted one resident as saying they felt like they were in Thailand for the brief ten-minute downpour. However, Jerusalem remained hot and humid.

Like a child waiting for my birthday or some other special occasion, rain seems a long way off. I long to experience that first rainfall of the season when people run outside to enjoy the refreshing drops of moisture from heaven. I think about what God said to His people so long ago, “the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven” (Deut. 11:11).

I am certain that other people in other lands also long for rain after a hot and dry summer, but there is something significant and special about waiting for the rain of heaven to fall on the eternal city of Jerusalem.

In closing, herewith the words of the Shemini Atzeret prayer for rain:

“You are Adonai, our God

Who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.

For blessing and not for curse. Amen.

For life and not for death. Amen.

For plenty and not for lack. Amen.”

May the rain we are waiting for come at Your appointed time.

Posted on September 8, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 8, 2022)

Photo Credit: Hannah Taylor/bridgesforpeace.com

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