“Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.” Joel 2:23
It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of rain in the Land of Israel. Although water conservation efforts are always in place—in homes, businesses and agriculture—we are painfully aware that we live in near-desert conditions. We know, too, that as much as we plan, design, innovate and conserve, the amount and quality of precipitation we receive is up to God.
This winter is proving to be a truly blessed one. The rains started in October and continued into November. Although December was drier than average, some areas of Israel received precipitation during 29 of January’s 31 days! February was wet and stormy, and March has blown in windy and rainy.
There has been abundant snowfall on Israel’s highest mountaintop, Mount Hermon, to the delight of skiers, tourists and water-watchers (all of us!). The Hermon’s snowmelt runs into the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s measuring stick for water collection. A reservoir for the country’s water, the Sea of Galilee’s level is monitored daily. This winter’s rains have brought it up over a meter (so far!)—and spring snow melt is expected to add to stockpile until April or May.
Spectacular flowers are blooming, the hills are lushly green and our locally grown citrus fruits have never been sweeter.
But rain in the land of Israel is a fragile blessing. If there is too much rain, too little rain, or rain in an unexpected season, the delicate harmony can be disrupted. Despite this year’s abundant rainfall, almost a decade of dry conditions until now have created a state of constant vigilance. When the rains stop, the drought and the shortfall in the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River will remain.
What can we do? We will continue to keep the land of Israel and the need for rain in our prayers. We will beseech God to grant us the correct amount of rain, in the correct time, as God tells Moses in Deuteronomy 11:14, “I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.”
As the winter fades into spring, we will continue pull on our rain boots with a smile and feel grateful for God’s goodness. For when the rain arrives, so does the chance for rainbows, a beautiful, physical manifestation of God’s covenant with humanity: “Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again with the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:14-15)