Praying for the Rain in Jerusalem

Pour down, O skies, from above! Let the heavens rain down victory! Let the earth open up and triumph sprout Yes, let vindication spring up: I Hashem have created it.




(the israel bible)

February 5, 2023

4 min read

Unlike where I grew up, Israel has a very defined rainy season. The season is marked by the bookend festivals of Sukkot (Tabernacles) and Passover, during which we actually pray for rain in the Land, in that season. As a country that’s mostly an arid desert climate, rain is critical.  Biblically we know that the rainy season was important since people relied on local produce, and to have water to get through the dry spring and summer months, they planted accordingly.

As early modern Israel was known for its network of agricultural settlements, the kibbutz, water played a critical challenge. In the early years of the restoration of Jewish sovereignty, pioneers suffered malaria and backbreaking work, draining swamps, creating the infrastructure for irrigation that’s now a model to the world, and making the most out of Israel’s one main source of fresh water, the Sea of Galilee.

Today, the almost 75-year-old arid desert country has become a literal water exporter.  That’s certainly the case with Israel providing Jordan with 100 million cubic meters of water per year.  But there are other ways through which Israel exports water that are more subtle, but no less true.  Think about Israel’s incredible quality produce and flowers being shipped around the globe. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers make a great salad. Dates and citrus make a great healthy snack. Award-winning wine is served on high-end menus everywhere.  

In addition to the exporting of water in its produce, and pumping it across the border to Jordan, there are many technologies that make this all possible. Israel’s drip irrigation system is so simple on its face, but innovative and coveted all around the world.  Israeli companies are making water out of air, leading in desalinating sea water, recycling wastewater, and much more.  If Israel’s footprint wasn’t already significant, through water Israel is making lifesaving waves for others around the world.

All of this is clearly a product of ingenuity and an unparalleled dedication to making Israel thrive.  But it’s also a product rooted in the prophecy that when the people of Israel return to the Land of Israel, the Land will breathe a sigh of relief and prosper. By fulfilling its role as a blessing to the families of the world, water and water-related technologies make Israel in huge demand.

With all this, you would not be mistaken to think that Israel was a water superpower.  However, just like the divinely inspired determination and innovation that’s been rooted in our people, making the desert bloom, and fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel, it’s not something that we take for granted. That’s why we pray for rain. We don’t, and can’t, take it for granted.

There are many Biblical sources of rain in the Land of Israel being a blessing in its season.  That means my grandchildren, all born and raised in Israel, won’t ever really experience the childhood joy of a cool rain shower in the summer and be able to go outside and play in, slide in the mud, and feel refreshed because of it. Rain in Israel comes in the fall and winter months when the last thing you want to do is play in the cold and get wet and colder in the process.

In the past few years Israel experienced higher-than-average rainfall.  The big measure of this is the height of the Sea of Galilee.  While we have an abundance of desalination and water recycling, the Sea of Galilee is still the biggest and most important source of fresh water. It is not only pumped from the Sea throughout the country, but it feeds the Jordan River which, in turn, partly feeds the Dead Sea.  All this is critical for many reasons, including countering the dangerous evaporation of the Dead Sea which is shrinking by a meter a year, making the lowest body of water on the planet even lower.

This year, rain has been scarce. This past month it was reported that Israel is in the midst of one of the driest winters in 60 years.  The level of the Sea of Galilee has increased by just two centimeters. In a good year, the level will increase by some 1.6 meters during the whole rainy season.  While this is less alarming than in previous years due to a new desalination system that can take salty Mediterranean water and pump it to supplement the fresh water of the Sea of Galilee, nevertheless lack of rain is concerning.

Jews typically pray for rain as part of our three-times-a day prayer services. Recently, however, Israel’s chief rabbis called for extra prayers for rain. We know that even the ultra-modern Start Up Nation relies on rain, so we turn out prayers to the Source of rain that it should be abundant, and safe.  As a possible partial answer to prayers, Israel is expecting a major winter snowstorm, which is pretty, fun, messy, and when it melts will trickle down to the lakes and rivers.

As much as one good rain or snowstorm is a blessing, it’s not enough. Just as we are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, this year we need to pray for rain in Jerusalem.  And in the Golan and Galilee, in the mountains of Judea and Samaria, the coastal plain, and the desert.  We need to pray that rain will be abundant, that it will replenish the Sea, rivers, and aquifers, and that it will be a blessing, not something dangerous.

Please join us wherever you are, in fervent prayer for God’s blessing to be upon the Land and the people.  As Jews from across Israel convene to pray for rain at the Western Wall, you can send your own prayers from around the world at to be placed in the cracks of the Western Wall in Jerusalem alongside the Jewish worshippers, participating virtually as part of the special prayers of people from around the world.

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