Our chief rabbis think so but never miss a chance not to be with the times
The lack of information, memory, and understanding about rain would be comical if it were not so shocking. I was born and grew up in a forest for two decades and was raised by Socialist parents. Therefore, I know what trees look like and their names. Let me share a little of my easy knowledge.
We just had, in Israel, two winters with abundant rain. The Sea of Galilee got filled to the rim. This winter, so far, reportedly, is the driest in 60 years.
Yet, Israel is now pumping desalinated water from the Mediterranean to the Sea (lake) of Galilee, Israel’s natural reservoir. We also built enough wastewater purification facilities. PM Sharon’s foresight is paying off.
With the coastal aquifers and the Northern lake filled to capacity, year-round, what should we care about droughts anymore? Enough water to drink, irrigate farmlands, cook in, and clean with forever.
In fact, we now have so much desalinated water that we just signed an agreement with Jordan to swap our plentiful water for solar energy generated in their mostly empty grounds (deserts).
When are the other countries on the Mediterranean coasts going to follow Israel’s example to fight their life-threatening climate-change drought?
Then, what’s there to pray extra for rain for Israel? The chief rabbis didn’t learn biology or geography, or follow the news, so, are they lost (again)?
My Chareidic friend, who’s a rabbi, got puzzled by a congregant’s question. How can Hebrew imply there’s water in the sky when so often, there are no clouds? (The Dutch would never ask so. They’d ask: How can the Torah say G^d created the sun when we never see it?) I told him that ‘no clouds here’ doesn’t mean ‘nowhere.’ And that without visible clouds, there’s still a lot of atmospheric water, as we see from the morning dew. Still puzzled.
Yet, this time, in a stroke of luck, the chief rabbis are right. We need rain. Why?
Rain in Israel falls only in winter. Besides filling up our reservoirs, it replenishes the groundwater. Small plants can live from the dew that precipitates because of the 10 degrees Celsius difference between day and night temperature. But often, that doesn’t suffice larger trees.
An Arab gardener told me that in his village, they plow the ground around olive trees thrice a year so that the dew sinks in before it evaporates. This also cuts roots prompting the trees to make more of them. Artificially watering trees makes them lazy and needing more and more water.
But most trees grow faster than olive trees. They need groundwater, which comes from the yearly rain. We can’t water all the woodlands, so with our plentiful water reserve, we can’t help our woods. They need rain, plain and simple. Not only to survive individually but also to fend off forest fires.
So, yes, let’s pray for rain in Israel now. The early rains and late rains (two different words in the Bible) are not linked. We had some earlier rain, especially on the coast, but we also need some later rain.
We also could use some cold, which typically accompanies the rain here, to lower the number of insects that would attack leaves, basks, and skins.
However, it’s so easy to ask for healing while ignoring the loving kindness of when we were healthy. Maybe first then, put in a word or two of gratefulness for the plentiful precipitation of the past two winters.