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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘drought’

Will The Cubs’ Championship Drought Finally End?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

As we head toward Shavous, the Chicago Cubs are sporting baseball’s best won-lost record.

Cubs fans are hoping their team holds the top spot through the October Yom Tovim and into the World Series.

It’s hard to find someone who remembers the last time the Cubs were in the World Series. After all, it’s been 71 years. And the Cubs lost that 1945 Fall Classic to Hank Greenberg’s Detroit Tigers.

It’s been 108 years since the Cubs actually won a World Series. The Cubs made it to the 1908 World Series because of what’s become known as “Merkle’s Boner.”

Most baseball fans have heard of Merkle’s Boner, but how many actually know when or how it happened?

Merkle’s Boner turned what was set to be a game-ending victory celebration by the New York Giants and their fans into a tie game with the Cubs.

Let’s dial back 108 years to 1908. Future actress Bette Davis was born on the first day of the baseball season. The first observance of Mother’s Day in the United States was held on May 10. The first Model-T Ford was built in August and General Motors was formed the following month.

Radio play-by-play was still two decades away and newspapers were the voice of America at the time.

Big Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox won 40 games in 1908. Walsh had eleven shutouts, 42 complete games, and pitched a whopping 464 innings (equal to more than 51 nine-inning games).

Christy Mathewson dominated the National League, winning 37 games for the New York Giants while compiling an earned run average of 1.43. Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators – in only the second season of what would be a 21-year career – amazed the baseball world by pitching three shutouts in only four days against the New York Yankees.

The 1908 season was the year of the pitcher. Both leagues compiled a paltry .239 batting average. Of the 16 major league teams at the time, only the pitching staff of the New York Yankees had an ERA over 3.00.

New York even then was the media center of the nation and many baseball scribes were on hand as the Cubs and the New York Giants squared off at the Polo Grounds on September 23. The game featured the Cubs’ famous infield double-play combination of Tinker shortstop) to Evers (second base) to Chance (first base). Today, 108 years later, the biggest trivia question is still “Who was the third baseman of that famous World Series-winning Cubs infield of Tinker to Evers to Chance?” Answer: Harry Steinfeldt.

The game moved along quickly. Each team had one run as the Giants batted in the bottom of the ninth with a runner in scoring position and 19-year-old rookie Fred Merkle on first base.

Merkle took off for second as the batter singled to right field. Meanwhile, the Giant who’d been in scoring position headed home with the winning run. Fans swarmed the field in celebration and Merkle quickly made his way through the bedlam, seeking the safety of the clubhouse.

Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers somehow got hold of a ball in the confusion; only he knew if it was really the ball the batter had hit into the outfield.

Evers found umpire Hank O’Dea and showed him the ball while stepping on second base for the force-out on Merkle, who had left the field before reaching second base.

Umpire O’Dea ruled that since Merkle was out, the inning was over and the run didn’t count. It was still a tie game. However, thousands of fans were still milling on the field and there was no public address system to inform them that they needed to clear the field because the game wasn’t over. Darkness was fast approaching and by the time all the fans had exited, the umpires ruled the game would have to be played over if both clubs ended the season in a tie.

Irwin Cohen

Lake Kinneret ‘Under the Weather,’ Water Level Dropping

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Lake Kinneret is a little ‘under the weather’ these days, according to Israel’s Water Authority.

The northern body of water which is Israel’s main source of drinking water is also known as the Sea of Galilee. It started this year “rainy season” with a head start but now is showing signs of heading into a drought level.

Israel’s Water Authority reported Tuesday that the lake’s water level has dropped four centimeters below the “lower red line,” and stands at 213.04 meters below sea level.

“Kinneret water level declines at the end of December are unusual circumstances, occurring most recently only in 2008,” the Water Authority said in a statement.

On Tuesday morning, a very brief flash of rain swept across the northern Negev – but it had no effect on the level of the lake.

It is hoped that the winter storm expected this coming weekend will bring with it enough precipitation to boost the basin back up to where it should be at this time of year.

The water level in Lake Kinneret really needs to reach above the higher red line in order to avoid a drought alert for the summer months.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Scientists Offer Solution to Famine

Monday, August 19th, 2013

An Israeli team of scientists has developed a new technology which may minimize famine and strife by enabling crops to weather droughts worldwide.

Professor Shimon Gepstein, Chancellor of the Kinneret College, is leading a team to genetically engineer a plant that can withstand droughts by “freezing itself” after not receiving water for a certain period of time, and then “returning to life” after the water supply is renewed, without incurring any damage to the plant’s physical structure.

A spokesman for the Kinneret College told Tazpit News Agency that the findings already are being implemented and that international firms have expressed interest in the technology.

The finding was discovered by chance while running experiments on prolonging plants’ longevity and the shelf-life of vegetables. Experimenting on tobacco leaves, the scientists were able to develop a plant that lives twice as long as the average tobacco plant, providing flowers and fruits long after the regular plants have withered and died. When the tips of the leaves were cut off, the regular plants yellowed and died after a week, whereas the genetically engineered plants stayed green for a full 21 days.

The breakthrough was revealed when some of the plants were left in the green house unattended for four weeks. Tobacco plants require watering every two to three days.

When the team discovered that the unaltered plants had not lost their vitality, it decided on a series of monitored tests on regular and engineered plants that were not watered for three weeks. The regular plants died, and the engineered plants once again began to grow after receiving water, having incurred no damage during the “drought.”

The new technology, if successful commercially, would create a revolution as scientists forecast that climate changes will increase the number and severity of worldwide droughts.

In Israel and other arid areas, wheat planted at the beginning of the winter and the developing shoots after early rain will be able to survive a drought afterwards.

The new technology also could alleviate a growing global water shortage. The plants that survived the experiment used only one-third of the usual amount required.

Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

The Blessings of Rain

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

It starts to rain in Israel, if we are lucky, some time in late October or November. If we are less blessed, it will start in December. January sees rainfall, as does February. By March, we know we’re near the end and by April it’s over. May, June, July, August, September (and usually October) – no rain – often not a single time, once in a while there’ll be a short rain – sometimes not even that.

The winter in Israel is spent watching the level of the Sea of Galilee – as it rises, we know we’ll have water for the coming dry months. Early in the winter, meteorologists will predict a wet winter, a dry one, a warm one, a cold one. Sometimes, you don’t even hear their prediction. This has been a good year – so far…though  much is still needed to take us out of the perpetual drought we have been in for over a decade. In all of the years I have been in Israel, not once has the level of the Sea of Galilee reached over capacity. There are provisions for this happening – huge flood gates that can be opened, sending water down through the Jordan Valley and into the dying Dead Sea.

Last year was adequate – this year, we still wait to hear. The winter is probably about half-over but we think in terms of days. In the last few days, the Sea of Galilee has risen an amazing 22 centimeters – I don’t know if you can imagine what that means. Yesterday it rained; today it is raining. Tomorrow and the next day, they are predicting more rain and even snow in some areas.

People are complaining about floods and traffic and the cold and through it all, there is this amazing joy. People will say, “it’s miserable out there, thank God.” Each drop is a blessing, a gift. In Israel, from a young age, we teach our children two things about water – don’t waste it, and always carry it with you. My children go with bottles of water – the heat in the summer can be very dangerous and they need to carry water with them. They shut the water when they soap themselves up in the shower; they shut the water when they are brushing their teeth. You don’t waste water in Israel. If you peel potatoes into a pot of water so they don’t turn colors – you walk outside and pour the pot of water into the garden.

As we drove into Jerusalem today, the water was flowing over the hills, pouring down the rocks, forming a river on the side of the road. Lauren tried to get a picture but the camera focused on the drops on the window instead. “Open the window,” said Davidi.

Both my daughter-in-law Lauren and I thought that was a bad idea – she’d be soaked, as would the car! But a neighbor managed to capture the power of the water. This is today’s blessing from God to a land that He loves, and a land that loves Him.

Paula R. Stern

Rain, Wine and Why it’s all Our Fault: The History of the Rain Libel

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

We’re now entering the period when we begin to pray for rain.  Lack of rain was often an excuse to persecute the Jews, specifically those living in Jerusalem.  There are quite a few examples from our history of this rain libel, which was very often linked to the ‘sin’ of drinking wine.

Martin Kabátník, a Czech-Bohemian pilgrim who visited Jerusalem in 1491, reported that when there’s a drought, the Arabs go to the Jews and Christians and break their wine vessels.  Then they break all other vessels they find.  And they blame them, saying that because of them G-d is preventing the rain from coming, because they’re infidels and drink wine.  Kabátník said he heard from the Muslims that it’s OK to wrong the Jews, since G-d doesn’t see it as a sin.

A few years later, in 1495, a student of the Bartneura repeated the same story: when there’s no rain and the water is gone from the waterholes, the Ishamaelites will sometimes gather on us, to pour out the wine and break the jugs because they said that rains don’t come because the Jews sin and drink wine.

Around 30-years later, after the Turks conquered the land, Rabbi Moshe Basula came to Jerusalem.  And he discovered things hadn’t changed.  He writes as follows: It’s the custom of the Ishmaelites in Jerusalem, that when G-d doesn’t make it rain, they say it’s the fault of the Jews who drink wine, and they ask the governor to break the wine-jugs of the Jews. And on Wed. 20th of Kislev 5282 [Nov 20, 1521] the governor claimed that libel, until they agreed on (a fine of) 200 dukats of their currency, every dukat is 4 marcellis.  They fined anybody who made wine, and it cost half a dukat, that is 2 marcellis, for every 100 rotiol of wine, which are 600 of our liters.

A Jewish poem tells us of similar problems twenty years later.  The lamentation, written by Moshe Ma’alim, describes the troubles which befell the Jews in Jerusalem starting in 1542.  In that year a plague hit the city, followed the next year by an earthquake which hit on Passover.  Then locust covered the land, which exacerbated an on-going drought.  The Muslims blamed the Jews, and repeatedly searched their houses for wine, the cause of all the troubles.  This left the Jews with no wine for religious ceremonies.  Finally the Muslims evicted the Jews from the city.

(Yehuda Razhabi, Shalem V)

The lamentation was written while the Jews were still in “Galut,” and ends with a prayer that the Jews will return to Jerusalem soon.

A hundred years later, we again hear a very similar story.  Except this time, the problem was the Jews, not the wine.

Henry Jessey was a British priest who believed the Second Coming would only occur if the Jews of Jerusalem would convert.  He tells of several similar stories, the most descriptive is based on a letter written by the Jewish community.

In 1639 there was famine in Jerusalem following a long drought.  A Jewish convert to Islam convinced the Turks that the problem was the Jews: they were sinning against G-d.  The Turkish governor, Muhammad Pasha, ordered the Jews immediately evicted from the city.  The Jews begged (and bribed) the governor to give them three days.  The governor agreed and decreed that in three days, if it won’t rain, the Jews will be evicted and their belongings appropriated.  Any Jew found in the city after that date will be executed.

For the next three days, the Jews fasted, day and night.  As the second day drew to a close, when they saw their prayers weren’t answered, they decided they would rather commit mass suicide then stay at the mercy of the Turks.  But before they did so, they asked the governor to pray at Zecharia’s Tomb.

The governor agreed and so on the morning of the third day the Jews went to Zecharia’s Tomb and prayed and prayed.  The day was a hot day, and the Turks already prepared the stones with which they intended to stone the Jews on their return.  But come evening, after a day of prayer, the rains came.  Within a couple of hours all the water holes filled up.  The rains were so heavy, the Jews were forced to stay in the tomb throughout the night.  And on the next morning, the Turks met the Jews coming back and blessed them and gave them gifts.  The governor gave each of the rabbis a suit.  The Jews were saved, until next time.

Orat@Muqata

Which Party Is to Blame for Droughts?

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The hands in the photograph belong to President Barack Obama, who’s holding a few ears of corn during his tour of the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, which has been affected by the drought this season.

The drought in America is causing a rise in the cost of food products everywhere, including Israel, where the price of bread has just gone up by 6 percent.

Now, let’s look, at the correlation between U.S. presidents and years of peak drought, to find out whether the drought means God hates Democrats

May, 1925 – Coolidge, R

Sep. 1931 – Hoover, R

Jul. 1934 – Roosevelt, D

Aug. 1936 – Roosevelt, D

Dec. 1939 – Roosevelt, D

Jul. 1954 – Eisenhower, R

Dec. 1956 – Eisenhower, R

Jun. 1977 – Carter, D

Jun. 1988 – Reagan, R

Aug. 2012 – Obama, D

That’s 5 Rs and 5 Ds.

It appears droughts are evenly distributed between Republican and Democratic administrations. God loves—or punishes—both parties equally.

Comments welcome…

Yori Yanover

Shmuel Hakatan

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

In the days of Shmuel Hakatan a terrible drought held the land in its deadly grip. The wheat withered in the field and the grass dried and died. Day after day, the skies remained leaden and no clouds appeared to bring rain and salvation to the parched land.

The people knew that Shmuel Hakatan was a saintly and righteous man and they hoped that in his merit the Almighty might bring rain to them.

Coming to Shmuel Hakatan, they said: “The people of Israel are in great distress. Pray to the Almighty that He send us rain. Perhaps He will hearken to your prayers.”

The Rains Come

Shmuel Hakatan then answered the people saying: “Proclaim a fast for the morrow and call unto G-d with all your might and He will have mercy upon you.”

The leaders of the community immediately issued a call throughout the area for a fast and prayers to begin the next day. No sooner had the sun risen, then a great shower of rain began to fall on the land, soaking all the fields and fill­ing all the wells with precious water.

The people were overjoyed and they called out in great happiness: “Today we have seen that we are good in the eyes of the Almighty for He answered us rapidly, even before we called out to him.”

But Shmuel Hakatan shook his head and said: “No, what happened here today is a sign not of great love. On the contrary, it is a bad omen.”

The people looked at the great sage in puz­zlement.

“Why do you say that Behold, G-d sent us rain before our prayers were even ut­tered. Is this not a good sign?”

“No. It is similar to the case of a servant who seeks a favor from the king. The king knows of this and quickly tells his other ser­vants: ‘Hurry and give him what he wants, for I do not wish to be bothered with him.’”

Another Drought

Some time later, still another drought struck the land. Once again the fields dried up and the people were in great distress. Shmuel Hakatan called for yet another fast and more prayers.

This time, the people continued fasting and praying the entire day.

“Please G-d, Have mercy upon us! Redeem us, Grant us salvation and do not turn us away empty-handed.”

All day they prayed; all day they fasted. It was to no avail. The skies remained as before, the rain locked in and the land still thirsty. The people returned to their homes that night, sad and forlorn. Only then did the skies open up and the rains came down on the earth bringing life and hope.

“This, too, is not a good omen,” said Shmuel Hakatan. “To what may this situation be compared? To a king, whose servant re­quests a favor and the monarch tells his ad­visors: ‘wait until he suffers a little more before giving it to him.’”

The Good Omen

The people then asked Shmuel Hakatan: “If this is so, how can we know when the people are acceptable in the eyes of the Almighty?”

And Shmuel Hakatan answered: “This is how you shall know. When the peo­ple are in need of rain and they come to the synagogues and say, ‘Who makes the wind to blow and the rain to come down,’ if then, the Almighty grants them what they ask, this is the sign that they have found favor in His eyes and at that time you may rejoice.”

In The Days To Come

And the spirit of G-d rested on the great Shmuel Hakatan and he was permitted to see the events that would occur in the future for Israel. He saw the terrible tragedies and terror that would befall his people and his heart grew heavy within him. He would not eat or sleep and he walked about the entire day as a mourner, with his head bowed and bent. He grew ill and was forced to lie in bed but his situation grew worse and he lay at death’s door!

The sages, hearing the sad news, hurried over to see how he was. They found him only a shell of the man that he had been, pale and emaciated, unable to speak above a whisper.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/midrash-stories/shmuel-hakatan/2012/08/03/

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