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Ekev. The Lessons of Rain

In Israel, it doesn’t rain at all during the summer. The first time our family travelled abroad during the summer, we told our kids that we needed to take clothes for rain. They thought we were joking. “It can’t be!” they told us, “There can’t be rain in the Summertime!”

This week then, let’s talk about the peculiar rainfall of the Land of Israel. Our Parsha presents a contrast between irrigation in Egypt and in Eretz Yisrael:

"For the land that you are about to enter and possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come. There, the grain you sowed had to be watered by your foot, like a vegetable garden, but the land you are about to cross into and possess, a land of hills and valleys, is watered by the rains of the heaven. It is a land on which the Lord your God always keeps his eye, from year's beginning to year's end."(11:10-12)

Egypt relies on the Nile. Water is plentiful. The "foot" referred to is the “plug” which stops the entry of water to the irrigation channel. You simply kick it aside, and water flows into your field until the field is fully watered and the “plug” would simply be replaced. In Israel, there are no major rivers. Israel is dependent upon rain, and that rain falls rarely. The rain is something that an entire nation waits for, prays for. But it should generate a powerful spiritual effect:

"The river-lands more closely approximate the image of the Garden of Eden which brings forth its fruits by itself. Even if irrigation demands effort, the continual abundance of soil that is fertile and easy to work, and of water, gives man a feeling of complete security. It is as though he holds the guarantee of his future sustenance in his own hands. He can ensure himself against want. This is not so, however, of a land watered by rain. There, nature gives no guarantees. All depends upon the grace of rain over which man has no control.