January 3, 2006
The 3rd of Tevet
The Red Line
The weather in Israel can be considered the barometer of our spiritual level. According to Chazal, our sages, it depends on how well we observe the "mitzvot," the commandments G-d gave us. Israel is presently suffering a drought. No surprise!
This winter has been pretty dry, and there's no rain on the horizon. For a few weeks, the rabbis had ordered us to add a special prayer, traditionally said during droughts, but after one nice rainfall, it was cancelled, and then the drought resumed.
Last night, the second of January and the very end of Chanukah, we were at a wedding. The "chupah," ceremony was out of doors under a clear and starry sky. It was so "pleasant," that I didn't even put on my gloves, and we were in Jerusalem. It made a nice wedding, especially for the visitors from the southern hemisphere, but what price will we be paying for this consistently warm, dry weather?
I've been in Israel thirty-five years, and during years like this, we'd be hearing how the water level of the Kineret, Sea of Galilee, has dropped below the red line. We'd be advised to save water and other practical measures. This year, the "red line" is rarely mentioned, and saving water never is. Cleaning with high powered hoses is common, so are water-guzzling lawns and flower gardens.
I'm scared. This "lovely weather" isn't a blessing; it's a curse, a punishment from G-d. At some point we will have to pay for it, and the price will be very heavy, very high and unpleasant.
As of today, January 3, 2006, according to the Israel Meteorological Service the Kineret, Sea of Galilee is minus 211.66 meters, and we're in the middle of the winter. In recent years, the Israeli policy has been to just lower what it calls the "red line." That way there's no need to panic and take precautions. As long as the government says there's plenty of water, most people happily go on wasting water. Why should they skimp and suffer, if there's government approval for all the excess? A couple of years ago there were plans of importing tanks of water from Turkey. It just costs money, and the voters reject politicians that make them face reality.
The Jewish religion is agricultural; the early, non-observant Zionist pioneers accurately took advantage of this fact, making up new ceremonies to suit their lives. Traditional Jews pray for rain at the end of the fall Succot holiday and then continue with a phrase asking for a quantity of precipitation that would be a blessing each time we say the "Amida," or "Shmoneh Esreh" prayer.
The Bible clearly states in Deuteronomy 11:13–17 that the quantity of rain is a direct punishment or reward according to how we obey G-d.
13 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--
14 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 oil.
15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.(NIV)
Israel was restored in 1948 after a long difficult war, not only against the Arab countries, but also against Great Britain which didn't want to give up the Mandate and allow us independence. I strongly suspect that many of the countries of the United Nations which voted in favor of an independent Jewish State only did so, because they were certain that we wouldn't succeed and would have to either call in international help or even be wiped out. Don't act so shocked! Remember that during the Holocaust, when six million Jews were being murdered, not a single solitary country attacked the Nazis to save the Jews.
Less than twenty years later, in 1967, there was a miraculous Israeli victory over the Arab aggressors, resulting in Israel liberating its Biblical, Historic Homeland. Nobody could have predicted it. It was a total act of G-d. While that was still fresh in our minds, and we were over-confident, the Arabs attacked us again, on our holiest day, Yom Kippur, 1973. It looked like Israel was finished; but again, a great miracle and we were victorious. And now, what has Israel done to thank G-d?
We have rejected, wasted and destroyed G-d's gifts to us. No People has ever been luckier, more blessed, and no People has ever been so foolish, no let's use the real word, suicidal.
Since Menachem Begin's election as Israeli Prime Minister in 1977, and his announcement that he would "make peace" and give Egypt a gift of the Sinai and destroy all Jewish communities there, we have been weakening and destroying our country. That was followed by Shamir's Madrid Conference, the Rabin-Peres Oslo Accords, Bibi's Wye and Sharon's Disengagement. Each one chipped away more and more of our security, sovereignty and Precious Land; this resulted in the successful use of "salami tactics" in order to gradually weaken and destroy us, G-d forbid.
Considering all, I'm not at all surprised that there's a drought this year. We deserve punishment from G-d. We crossed the red line.
And now we must gathers our forces and sincerely repent.
Batya Medad, Shiloh
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