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Learn Hebrew: Winter Rain

October 18, 2009 | by

With little fresh-water sources, Israel depends heavily on rainfall.

It is autumn now in Israel. Although the days are still hot, they are becoming shorter, and the evenings are getting cooler. This is the time of year that we happily say goodbye to the dry and hot summer and welcome the (hopefully) rainy and cooler winter.

The land of Israel depends very much on the winter rainfall. We pray for rain to fall after the holiday of Sukkot and continue steadily until Passover in the spring. This is the time that rain helps our agricultural products, and therefore it is called (geshem bracha - timely/blessed rain). If it rains earlier or later, it can damage the produce. For that reason, the Hebrew language has special words for the first rain - (yoreh), and for the last rain of the season - - (malkosh).

For practical reasons, the State of Israel attempts to increase the amount of precipitation that falls from clouds in the winter time, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation.

The Torah tells us that rainfall in Israel is dependent on keeping God's laws:


If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; then I will give your rains in their season, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will yield fruit. (Leviticus 26:3-4)


But if you will not listen unto Me, and will not do all these commandments... and I will make your heaven as iron. (Leviticus 26:15...19)

Prayers for Rain

During the just-completed holiday of Shmini Atzeret, we recited a special prayer for rain:


Causing the wind to blow and the rain to descend - For blessing and not for curse For life and not for death For fullness and not for thinness.

The daily Amidah (silent prayer) has special inserts for the rainy season. In the second blessing, we add the line:



Who causes the winds to blow and the rains to fall.

In the ninth blessing of the Amidah, these words are added beginning on December 5 (in Israel, beginning on Cheshvan 7):



And give dew and rain for a blessing.

These special insertions are very important, and forgetting to say them may require one to repeat the entire Amidah. The details of these laws are beyond the scope of this essay; consult with a rabbi or see the ArtScroll siddur, pages 984-985.

Related Vocabulary Words

Translation: water
Transliteration: mayim
Part of speech: noun, masculine, plural

Translation: precipitation
Transliteration: mishka'im
Part of speech: noun, masculine, plural

Translation: rain
Transliteration: geshem / matar
Part of speech: noun, masculine

Translation: hail
Transliteration: barad
Part of speech: noun, masculine

Translation: snow
Transliteration: sheleg
Part of speech: noun, masculine

Related Hebrew Names


A girl’s name which means "blessing." The name first appears in the Bible as a boy’s name; Bracha was one of King David's war heroes (see 1-Chronicles 12:1-3).


A boy’s name, meaning "rain."

Hebrew Word Search

See if you can find all the words in the puzzle below:


Let us all pray for a blessed year,
a year of fullness and life,
a year of precipitation and peace.

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