Israel is experiencing a disturbing break in its rainy season with no rain falling in the last two weeks. According to forecasts, the country will not see any more precipitation at least until the middle of January.
Extremes in Israeli Weather
After well above average rainfall over the past two winters, the Kineret came within 12 centimeters of being full in April. But the water level fallen slightly as Israel is having its driest start to the winter since 2014. Israel is an arid country with about 70 percent of the average rain falling between November and March.
This is in stark contrast to Europe which is in the midst of an extreme winter. So far, the winter weather in Israel has vacillated between extremes. October was remarkably dry whereas November brought record-breaking rain. A flash rain in December led to extreme flooding on the coast and, though January has been dry, a bizarre fog blanketed the coast and the Northern Negev earlier this week. Forecasters predict that the current dry spell will be record-breaking in its longevity.
If this season turns around and brings sufficient rain falls, it will be 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.
Rain: Relationship With 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
Which Precedes Messiah? Rain or Drought?
Hopes for rain are not based solely on agricultural concerns. Eleven years ago, Israel was suffering from a horrible drought. Someone asked Rabbi Dov Kook, a renowned mystic rabbi when the Messiah will arrive. Rabbi Kook answered, “When the Messiah arrives, the Kinneret will be full.
But other opinions express precisely the opposite. SOD1820, a Hebrew-language site, posted the current meteorological situation, connecting it to a verse in Isaiah.
Grass withers, flowers fade When the breath of Hashem blows on them. Indeed, man is but grass: Isaiah 40:7
Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser, a 19th-century Ukrainian Bible commentator better known as the Malbim, explained this verse, noting that Man is similar to wheat, i.e. grass, that must be dried out before being harvested. He explains that this indicates a dry season will precede the Final Redemption.
It should be noted that before King David purchased Mount Moriah as the site of the Jewish Temples, it served as a point for threshing and winnowing wheat after it dried in the fields.