First rains fall during Sukkot

People running to protect themselves from the rain as they walk on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on October 9, 2017, during the first rain of the upcoming winter. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
Joel 2:23

After several months of zero precipitation the first rains of the season fell on Sunday in answer to the collective prayer of Jews who, during the holiday of Sukkot, pray for a good rainy season during the winter.

An hour of heavy rainfall poured down around the country on Monday morning, catching hundreds of guests who visiting President Reuven Rivlin and First Lady Nechama Rivlin’s sukkah in Jerusalem.

The tradition of praying for rain to soak the country stems from the scriptures and God’s promise to provide rain for the harvests at the proper time. Israelis consider rain a sign of God’s blessing. The rainy season starts after a dry summer and usually stretches into the spring.

The first rain usually brings flooding as well. Some 150 hikers in the Judean Desert were rescued after being caught in a flash flood near the Dead Sea. Power outages were also reported around the country due to the unexpected deluge.

This year in particular, the Israel water authority said the amount of rainfall will be critical to raise the dangerously low water levels.The Sea of Galilee, or Kinneret, is Israel’s main water supply and has dipped below the lower red line to a level of -214.125 as of Oct 3. At -214.4 water can no longer be pumped without damaging the water supply.

“If, God forbid, the coming winter is similar to the previous four, then our water sources are going to be in huge trouble,” Water Authority spokesman Uri Shore said in September.

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”
Deuteronomy 11:13-15