The British are understandably not typically particularly excited about rain. Years of washed out plans, raincovers at Wimbledon and hair that "goes fuzzy" mean that we're pretty much dissuaded of its charms. Just prior to my Aliyah in '96, I remember turning up for Shabbat dinner at a friend's, soaked to the skin and denouncing other members of the company as crazy for not wanting to join me in Israel. The prayer for rain, recited for the first time each year on Simchat Torah, was always said with a certain irony, having just spent a week having chicken soup diluted with rainwater in the Sukkah.
As a Brit based in Israel however, I have learned to see rainfall through very different eyes. There is something special about the first rainfall of the year, for which there is even a special name "Yoreh". It arrived yesterday as I walked out of my office. The intoxicating nature of such a rainfall, with the previous downpour a dim memory, is something which I love - I don't experience the reaction that I would have in England; to put up an umbrella and get indoors quickly, but rather luxuriate in the warm drops of lifebringing water, letting them wet my hair and roll down my face. The first rain has a wonderful smell of wet dust and damp vegetation, symbolising the end of summer and the start of what will hopefully be a replenishing wet season.
The sight of the Kinneret in the dry years is pretty pitiful. Last year, the sight of it full almost to overflowing as we cycled around it at Pesach, was truly gladdening. Hopefully the early rains, so soon after we once again began adding "Mashiv HaRuach uMorid HaGashem" to our prayers, is a good portent for things to come.