The Rain In Israel Runs On Time

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Last night it rained across large parts of the south of Israel, something which took this Maserati driver by surprise. Flooding in the desert is, of course, something that has happened since biblical times.

Maseratis are not amphibious vehicles - Photo Credit: Rotter post
Maseratis are not amphibious vehicles – Photo Credit: Rotter post

More details (JewishPress):

The heavens held a surprise for Israel on Tuesday, a Land which is usually blessed with “rain in its season” on the first night of the holiday of Sukkot.

Lightning lit up the skies in northern Israel during the afternoon on the second day of Rosh Hashana instead, with hail falling in some places, including the Galilee and the Golan Heights.

By nightfall, there was thunder and lightning and a downpour across Israel’s Judean and Negev deserts, with flooding reported in the Bamim and Nekarot rivers in the south.

Police warned drivers to watch out for flash floods on the highways along the Arava heading towards Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat.

This weekend marked Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the start of the time of year which leads up to Sukkoth. Last year I wrote about how the weather in Israel is inextricably linked to the Jewish calendar and, right on cue, the weather did it’s thing last night.



All Jewish festivals are timed with reference to the moon in Israel. There is a further, very important, timing shift involving a “leap month” that keeps Jewish festivals locked to an annual cycle. This is what makes Jewish holidays stay fixed in their time of the year while the strictly lunar calendar that marks out Islamic festivals is not synchronised to the year: their holidays like Ramadan can be found moving all around the Gregorian calendar from year to year.

Jewish festivals therefore move back and forth with reference to the Gregorian calendar, but they are synchronised with the seasons. I’ll go further: they are synchronised to an astonishing degree with the seasons in one part of the world: Israel and only Israel.

David B dust sand 02
Sand and dust in Tel Aviv

And there’s another small point people have made. Last week Israel was blanketed in a most unusual sand and dust storm. We do get sand blowing up form the South West from time to time, but this unusual storm came from the North East. This Rosh Hashanah also marked the end of a Shmita year:

The sabbath year (shmita Hebrew??????, literally “release”) also called the sabbatical year or sheviit (Hebrew???????, literally “seventh”) is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel, and still observed in contemporary Judaism.

During shmita, the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting, is forbidden by halakha (Jewish law). Other cultivation techniques (such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing) may be performed as a preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or other plants. Additionally, any fruits which grow of their own accord are deemed hefker (ownerless) and may be picked by anyone. A variety of laws also apply to the sale, consumption and disposal of shmita produce. All debts, except those of foreigners, were to be remitted.

The dust created an enormous mess in the cities but on Facebook my friend David Stein pointed out something astonishing:

There was recently a 10 day mineral dust storm covering the whole of Israel, bringing much needed nutrients to the soil of the land, to coincide with the end of the sabbatical year for the land. Israel is the holy land for the Jews.

Was this huge deposition of potentially soil enriching nutrients timed to coincide with the new planting that can now occur in this new year?

This is the view we woke up to on September 8th. I specifically made sure the camera didn’t adjust for the amazing colours I saw with my eyes. This picture is a true representation of the colour we had. The whole world looked orange.

Orange sky during Israel dust storm

And this is a picture NASA released to explain:

NASA dust sand storm over Israel

More dust on the ground pictures:

David B dust sand 01David B dust sand 03

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