Nov 29, 2021

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After no rain fell in Israel in the month of October, prayers for rain were bountifully answered as November comes to a close.

One Month of Rain in One Night 

Normally receiving seven inches of rain for the entire month, seven inches fell overnight eight days ago on the Sabbath when Jews read the Torah portion of Toldot making it one of the rainiest days in modern Israel’s history. The rain returned last Thursday night and Shabbat with nearly four inches of rain falling in the center of the country, making this the rainiest November since 1994. Some areas of Israel’s coast have already seen over 40% of their average annual rainfall.

Israel is an arid country with about 70 percent of the average rain falling between November and March. Climatologist Maximiliano Herrera noted that Mount Carmel saw up to 9 inches on Friday, November 20– the highest since 1998. Mount Hermon in the north received its first snow of the season.


The Drought Has Ended, The Kinneret is Full

This current rain is a continuation of a multi-year blessing that is offsetting a five-year period of drought.  Last winter, rains in northern Israel broke a 51-year record within a two-week period raising the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to its highest in decades. The water level came close to its record low in April 2017 at about 698 feet below sea level. The current level as of Friday morning was up by over half an inch, putting its upper level at 688.7 feet below sea level.

But the blessing of rain was difficult to bear as it led to flooding in parts of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ness Ziona, and other areas along the Mediterranean coast.  There were no reports of injuries.

Last winter, seven people died as a result of flooding.

A Sign of the Relationship Between God and Israel

Rain in Israel is a reflection of the relationship between the Jews and God.

If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving Hashem your God and serving Him with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late. Deuteronomy 11:13 

As the land of Israel is central to Judaism, Jewish prayer reflects this by making the prayers reflect the passage of the seasons in Israel. But the rains in Israel are not entirely set in their seasons and, according to the Bible, are affected by the actions of the Jews.

If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments,  I will grant your rains in their season, so that the earth shall yield its produce and the trees of the field their fruit. Leviticus 26:4

In fact, the rain Israel is currently receiving was supplemented by late rains last fall that ended an unpleasant and unseasonal heatwave

Rain and Redemption

The Biblically oriented should know that the filling of the Galilee is a sign of the imminent final redemption. Last year, Yonatan Dadon of Radio 2000, an Orthodox Hebrew language broadcaster, interviewed Rabbi Yaakov Zissholtz on his weekly Melaveh Malkah program

Rabbi Dov Kook (a mystic from Israel with a large following), as everyone knows, is a huge tzaddik (saintly man),” Rabbi Zissholtz said to Dadon, “He is one of the greatest men of our generation as well as one of the least well known. The Haredi community knows that he is a great man but they don’t really understand how wondrous a man he is, that his soul rises up to heaven.”

Rabbi Kook is a descendant of Israel’s first chief Rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, who is revered to this day and began the religious Zionist movement.

“Ten years ago, Israel was suffering from a horrible drought. Someone asked Rabbi Kook when the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) will be full. Rabbi Kook said, ‘When the Messiah arrives, the Kinneret will be full.’”

Rabbi Dov Kook, based in Tiberias, is understandably focused on the role the Kineret (the Sea of Galilee plays in the end-of-days. The Zohar, the foundational work of Jewish mysticism compiled by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai a Jewish sage from the second century known by the acronym Rashbi, cites the Galilee as the place in which the beginnings of the Messiah can first be seen.

The Messiah… will arise in the land of Galilee… the Messiah shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee because in this part of the Holy Land the desolation (Babylonian exile) first began, therefore he will manifest himself there first. [Zohar III, Shemoth 7b, 8b, 220a; Otzar Midrashim, 466]

Two years ago, Rabbi Kook made a startling announcement at a gathering of his followers. In the vision, the Rashbi told Rabbi Kook that the rains filling up the Kinneret are a sure sign that the Messiah’s arrival is imminent.

This is also taught in the Pri Chayim (fruit of life), the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the preeminent 16th century Kabbalist known by the acronym ‘Ari’ (lion), as recorded by his student Rabbi Chayim Vital in Tsfat (Safed). It is written in the Pri Chayim that גֶּשֶׁם (rain) is an acronym for ‘גְּאֻלָּה שְׁלֵמָה מְהֵרָה’ (‘complete redemption quickly’).

Rabbi Menachem Brodt of the Chabad branch of Hassidut wrote about the recent rains and their connection to the Messiah in a Hebrew language blog. Citing Maimonides, Rabbi Brodt explained that the rains accompanying the Messianic era will serve several purposes. They will be a reward to the Jews in Israel for their faithfulness to God throughout the exile. In addition, the plentiful rain will make it easier to grow food in the Holy Land, freeing the inhabitants to study Torah and perform Mitzvoth (Torah commandments).