On Friday, Heshvan 7, Jews who live in Israel have begun adding to the Amida prayer a full-blown appeal for rain.
The primary mention of rain, “He who blows the wind and drops the rain,” is said in the second blessing of the Amida starting in Shmini Atzeret which seals the Tishrei holiday cycle – but in the ninth blessing, the “Blessing the Years,” Jews who live in Eretz Israel suspend the appeal for rain for two weeks until Heshvan 7. The reason for the delay is to allow the pilgrims who are returning from Jerusalem time to cross the great desert to Babylon without getting stuck in rain storms.
Jews in the diaspora wait 60 days, until December 5 or 6, depending on whether February has 28 or 29 days, to begin their own appeal for rain.
So, now that all the pilgrims are safely tucked under their blankets in Babylon – let’s start begging for rain in Israel, which, incidentally, is much needed this year, seeing as the government has already ordered an increase in desalination, as predictions are for a drought in 5778.