Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rain in Iyar in Safed

Davidka Monument in Safed courtesy of

In our prayers we traditionally stop pleading for rain on the first day of Passover. There are cynics who claim this is because it almost never rains in Israel once the holiday is behind us. Those with more faith believe that the lack of rain is due to our absence of prayers for it. They insist that Israeli agriculture doesn’t need the precipitation once Pesach is over. Sometimes, though, there are aberrations with the laws of nature.

That’s what happened in Safed sixty-eight years ago. At that time the Jews in Safed were greatly outnumbered by the Arabs. Proceeding their departure from Palestine the British offered buses to evacuate the Jewish population of that holy city. Even though they anticipated an invasion from the Syrian army the Jews of the city adamantly refused the offer and prepared for a struggle.

Most of the city’s residents were elderly but they were ready and willing to help the small contingent of Israeli soldiers who were deployed in Safed. Their major weapon was the Davidka, a homemade mortar that was known more for its noise than its marksmanship.

On May 6th, thirteen days after the prayer for rain had ceased, the battle began. Israeli forces were outnumbered almost ten to one. Fierce fighting lasted for four days. Then on Rosh Chodesh Iyar*, all the Arabs, civilians and soldiers, fled.

What happened? It began to rain. Rain in Iyar was almost unknown. It was as frightening as the noisy Davidka. Even more frightening was the knowledge that there had been rain following the atomic bomb in Hiroshima less than three years earlier. The Arabs knew both Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer were Jews. Had they shared their expertise with the fledging Jewish nation? Was the noisy Davidka an atom bomb? The Arabs were taking no chances.  They abandoned Safed, the gateway to the north, giving Israel a major victory.

Rain in Iyar in Safed was just one of the many miracles HaShem made during the War of Independence. There were many more nineteen years later during the Six-Day War. And they continue until this day. One just needs to know how to look at the world to see them.

This year, for the first time I can remember, it rained twice during Iyar. Who knows what miracles those rainfalls will herald?

*the month following Pesach  

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