Water of Life to Jerusalem and the Negev
This is double-page spread from the Davar newspaper from October 7, 1949. The article explains how the water pipes laid by the Mekorot Water Company are causing the desert to bloom. It describes the great excitement accompanying the flow of water from the coastal plain to Jerusalem and to the Negev. A comparison is also made between the renewed water flow to Jerusalem and the great joy which accompanied the water libation ceremony, Simchat Beit Hashoeva, which took place during Sukkot at the time of the Temple. The writer emphasises that none of the many rulers of the Land of Israel over history succeeded in reviving the wilderness of the Negev; only the people of Israel are able to do this.
According to the article, the water pipes being laid to Jerusalem and the Negev were the first steps in a comprehensive plan to provide water to all areas of the country. The photographs document the laying of water pipes, the building of a storage pool on the way to Jerusalem, and the new pumping stations required for the water to reach Jerusalem.
Simchat Beit Hashoeva was a celebration that took place in the Temple every night during the festival of Sukkot. The celebration included the Water Libation ceremony )Nisuch Hamayim) which symbolised God’s blessing for rain in the coming winter. The celebration would draw thousands of people to dance, sing, and rejoice, as is written in the Mishna (and referred to in this article): “A person who has not seen the rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life” (Tractate Sukkah).
Geography teachers can use this image to discuss Israel’s water resources and the ecological challenges of the region.
Jewish History teachers can use this source to introduce the challenges facing the fledgling state and the building of infrastructure in the early years of the State.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this article when presenting the various Bible stories connected to wells and water sources and the biblical comparison of the Torah to water. It can also be used in the run-up to Sukkot when teaching about Simchat Beit Hashoeva and other water-related traditions.
What is the title of this article?
Summarise the text on the page.
What do the pictures show?
When and where was this article printed?
What ancient ceremony is mentioned in the article?
Which places are mentioned in the article?
What comment does the writer make about other nations who have controlled the land?
Reading Between the Lines
What is the climate in Israel?
What is the accessibility of water in Israel? Is water naturally scarce or abundant in Israel?
How was the water supply in the early years of the State of Israel?
Why was it necessary to create water routes to Jerusalem and the Negev in particular?
Why would there have been such happiness about these new water sources?
Why does the writer mention the Simchat Beit Hashoeva?
What is the comparison to modern times?
Why did the sages of the Talmud say, “A person who has not seen the rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life”?
Other than Mekorot, are there any other companies involved in water resources in Israel today?
How is water transported to Jerusalem and the Negev today?
Why did the other nations who ruled over the Land of Israel throughout history not investigate creating water channels to the Negev? Why did the new State of Israel feel that this was so important?
Water is no longer limited in Israel due to the country’s expertise and technology.
What technology has Israel developed to cope with the limited natural water sources in the region?
How has Israel’s research benefitted other countries around the world?
Despite the new water technologies Israel has developed to guarantee its ongoing water supply, Israelis are encouraged to conserve water and prevent waste.
Create a poster suggesting ways to conserve water in Israel.
Water of Life
Setting Water Pipes by the “Mekorot” Company
The Rabbis of the Talmud say: “A person who hasn’t seen the celebration of Simchat Beit Hashoeva has never seen rejoicing in his lifetime.” We haven’t yet seen the celebration of Simchat Beit Hashoeva, but we can see all of the effort being done towards it. Although much work is still ahead of us to bring up water from the coastal plain to Jerusalem, when water is accessible in the capital of Israel, there will be much happiness for us all.
There will also be happiness when water quenches the deserts of the Negev. Many different nations have had control of this land, but none considered reviving the wilderness. Only Israel is able to locate the water sources of blessing that are hidden in the wide plains and use them to make the plains bloom.
The noise of excavations has been heard in the hills and the valleys. It is the song of work and the song of water. These are our comrades, our workers who are building pools and pumps and laying pipes along the kilometres going up to Jerusalem and to the faraway Negev. This is still not the larger programme to irrigate the country. These are just the first steps. But, we are already anticipating from afar the great happiness, the Simchat Beit Hashoeva.