Sunday, October 28, 2001

Rains of blessing

Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night), October 27, 2001

Perhaps our prayers for peace have not yet been answered, but at least our prayers for rain seem to have had some effect.
I'm writing this to the reassuring accompaniment of heavy rain thudding down exuberantly in sheets, drumming on the pavement outside the open window, streaming off the roofs, balconies and tiered gardens down into the valley. Finally the yoreh, the first rain of the year, has arrived. Lord knows we've been waiting so long for this rain, it's already late October and so far in most parts of the country all we've had is the briefest of teasing drizzles, tantalising us with the intoxicating scent of damp earth.
And now it is really here. Those of you in temperate climes, or in damp tropical regions will think me quite mad to make such a fuss over a little rain, but any of you who have spent time in arid regions such as ours will understand the craving for water after the parched 5-6 month long dry season. By late July, certainly by August you feel as though you can no longer even remember what rain is. The nighttime sprinklers, the only way to keep the municipal parks green, are the only reminder. Sometimes you wake in the middle of the night to a drumming, thudding sound, and half asleep you think for a moment that it is raining outside, and then you realise that it's just a hot dry wind beating the dust caked shutters against the window over the bed. Little wonder that so much of our religious traditions revolve around the cycle of the rains.
I can hardly describe the thrill I felt Friday night when out walking in the park I felt the first drop on my cheek, scarcely daring to believe that it was really rain. And then the drops started falling more regularly and we realised that it really was raining. The Bnei Akiva teenagers hanging out on a nearby bench went wild with excitement, literally jumping for joy as they revelled in the light shower.
We also felt a little lightheaded, frisking along the path like kids, dancing in the rain. As it grew heavier we headed for home, passing another group of children frolicking in the downpour. As we turned down our street two toddlers ran out of their building grinning impishly, hands outstretched, palms up, gazing bright eyed at the heavens, wide-eyed, at the rain. A look reminiscent of American or north European children's anticipation of the first snow. We arrived home, wet, but invigorated, and stood for a long time under the sheltered entrance of our building watching the rain get heavier and heavier, beating the dry summer dust from buildings and streets, bringing the promise of green hills and autumn wildflowers.
Unfortunately rain wasn't this week's big news story in Israel, but right now I'm not going to let the more depressing events spoil my gladness that the rain has finally come. Perhaps if I have the time I'll write more later tonight.
May the rains bring us only blessings, and may it be a good week despite events.
Shavua tov,

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