While family and friends in North America are already in sweaters, here in the Galilee the temperatures are still in the 30’s (high 80’s F). It’s not that we don’t sense the passing of season – the evenings are significantly cooler, and fat, billowy clouds have started to reappear in the sky after months of absence. But summer still has us in its grip.
Wiping the sweat off my face yet again, I’m reminded of being 9 months pregnant. Hot and waiting. But now, it’s the first rain of the season that spells relief. After months of clear skies, there have been the briefest of drizzles over the past week – fat drops that evaporate before they can darken the pavement – but not the drenching downpour that marks the beginning of the rainy season.
This first rain of the year – called the “yoreh” in Hebrew – is mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:14. To paraphrase God, he/she promises that, for those who agree to wholeheartedly serve him/her, he/she will: “grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late.” The “early rain” is the “yoreh”.
Back when those words were written, the importance of a timely yoreh was existential. Farming in these unique topographic and climatic conditions was – and is – quite possible, but its success hangs in large part on the timing of the rains, from the yoreh on through the last rains of spring.
Our fates are no longer determined by the clouds, but life here today feels no less tenuous.