Thursday, November 22, 2018
Israel, The Holyland, is Not Europe
So far, so god. The early winter crocus flowers are blooming. They are the signs that water has seeped into the ground, and winter has begun here in the Holyland.
Quite a few decades ago, I took a course to improve my Hebrew. One thing I got out of it was the fact that the early Hebrew writers here couldn't get European seasons out of their brains. They continued to refer to the "first buds of spring" and other such literary images that aren't part of the Holyland reality. New York, where I grew up, and most of North America is very much like Europe. The winter is dark and snowy. You don't see the "buds" and flowers until spring. Then it all blooms and continues throughout the summer.
Here in the Holyland, it rains only in the winter. By early-mid summer, unless you irrigate your garden, everything just dries up. Many people try to imitate, recreate the gardens of Europe or North America. It's a waste of water and distorts perception of the Israeli climate.
Israel begins to green in early winter, after the first few rains. Winter flowers start blooming, too. By the end of winter the ground is covered with wildflowers and greenery. As the weather heats up in the spring, and the rain ceases to fall, the flowers dry up and die.
In addition, oranges, which since the middle of the twentieth century are a staple of Israeli agriculture, only get sweet (fully ripe) after the first rains.
Chazal, our sages, teach us that the quantity and quality of rain are dependent on how well we Jews keep the mitzvot and treasure the Holyland. Gd willing, we will deserve rains of blessing.