It’s a rainy Tuesday in the last week of February in Israel. In fact, it has been a cold and rainy winter.
Rain is something we pray for here, because we need the water. Rain fills the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake Tiberias or Kinneret). As the water level in the lake has become dangerously low in recent years because of the lack of precipitation, the rainy winter is definitely a cause for celebration. Water from the lake used to be the largest supplier of drinking water in Israel. But in recent years, because of the lack of rain, it has only provided a small percentage of our drinking water.
Rain, which is also needed for watering crops, is a precious commodity. The more it rains, the less Israel needs to get its water through desalination of seawater.
A Special Prayer
On Shemini Atzeret, the holiday that follows immediately after the seventh day of the Sukkot holiday (Feast of Tabernacles) in the fall, Jews say a special prayer asking G-d for rain. From that day until Passover, they also say the words “mashiv haruach v’mored ha’geshem” (who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall) during daily services. Rain is so vital that when there is a drought, mass prayer gatherings attended by thousands are organized at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
I try to remember all of this as I get ready for work while the rain is pouring outside my window. It makes that comforting sound on my roof that makes me want to stay home with a cup of tea and a good book. Nevertheless, I put on my warmest coat and hat and I’m on my way. When I got out of bed and saw it was raining, my first reaction was to think “no, no, I have had enough,” and to say a little private prayer: “please make the rain last for just one day.” Sure, I love the sound of rain – when I am tucked into my warm bed. We have had just a few too many grey wet days this winter for my taste.
But, surprisingly, when I walk outside I notice that the rain has a softness about it. It is strong but gentle, and makes me think about how important rain is to Israel and all of us who live here. Although it may feel like a nuisance at times, it is truly a blessing. This makes me wonder about how every now and then blessings come disguised as discomfort or trouble. And how we don’t always recognize that right away.
That is why it is a good idea to keep our eyes (and our minds, and our hearts) wide open. Even if we get a little wet.
Miriam Kates Lock is a Fellowship staff member in IsraelTags: Bible IFCJ Israel Miriam Lock Nature Sea of Galilee The Fellowship