Israel hoping for blessing of rain
Israel hoping for blessing of rainIsrael News Photo: (archive)

The first storm of the season, heading for Israel in time for the seven-day holiday of Sukkot, may send much-needed rain to the parched region - but it won't be seen as a good sign by Jews if they are driven out of their sukkahs (festival booths) and prevented from performing the Torah commandments properly. The holiday begins at sundown on Monday.

It is not yet clear exactly how much rain is expected to fall, but whatever amount arrives is badly needed. The Land of Israel has suffered four straight years of below-average rain, leaving water resources at levels so low that water quotas for farmers already have forced many orchards and crops to be abandoned.

Light rain is unlikely to dissuade Jews from abandoning their sukkahs, however, and according to Reb Yaakov Chayim Zelig of Warsaw, only rain that prevents one from observing the mitzvah of sukkah (commandment of sitting in the sukkah) should be seen as a negative indication. 


The beginning of the prayer for the "blessing of rain" is recited on Shemini Atzeret, the day after Sukkot, which usually falls earlier in the year. However, this past year was a leap year on the Hebrew calendar, resulting in the holiday falling in mid-October, when rain is more likely.


The weather forecast for Monday and Tuesday morning are for warm weather in the day and pleasantly cool at night, making sleeping and eating in the traditional sukkah dwelling very comfortable. However, the first major winter storm of the season is headed for Israel Tuesday evening and Wednesday, accompanied by high winds and isolated thunderstorms.


Flooding is expected throughout wadis in the Judean Hills, the Dead Sea and all of the Negev and Arava, as far south as Eilat.


Local showers are expected to continue on Thursday and possibly Friday morning before clear skies return. However, meteorologists added that it is difficult to predict the course of the storm.


Temperatures in most areas Monday and Tuesday are expected to reach the upper 20s (upper 70s-low 80s F) with nighttime lows in the low 20s (upper 60s). The thermometer then will drop sharply, with daytime highs towards the end of the week only reaching 22 (72) in Jerusalem and the hills of Judea and Samaria, although warmer at 26 (79 F) in Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva.


Nighttime lows will be 13 (55 F) in Jerusalem, 19 (65 F) in Tel Aviv and 16 (61 F) in Be'er Sheva. On the Hermon mountains, the range will be 13-6 (55-43 F).


Dry and slightly warmer weather will return on Friday and the Sabbath.