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WEATHER-LORE:

Popular prognostications regarding the weather. A certain number of these occur in the Talmud (B. B. 147a). If the weather at Shabu'ot is clear, sow wheat. If the smoke of the altar turns to the north on the last days of Tabernacles, there will be much rain in the following year. This was true for Jerusalem; the opposite, for Babylonia. If New-Year's day is warm, the whole year will be warm (comp. Yoma 21b).

Much importance was attributed to the "teḳufot," or changes of seasons. If the teḳufah of Ṭebet falls on a Wednesday or a Saturday, there will be famine. If the teḳufah of Nisan is on a Sunday, there will be war and death and snow. Some of these prognostications of later times were adapted from the Greeks. Thus, if the new moon of Ṭebet fell on a Sunday, it was taken to portend that the winter would be a good one. Moses ha-Darshan declared that if the teḳufah of Ṭebet fell within the first ten days of the month, grain would be dear. This is quoted by Issachar ibn Susan in his " 'Ibbur Shanim" (pp. 123b, 124a, Venice, 1579), which contains other weather-lore. In some weather-signs the position of the planets is taken into account. Thus, if a new moon occurs in the mansion of Mars, the month will be warm and rainy; if in the mansion of Mercury, windy and dusty. If the teḳufah happens when the sun is in the zenith, the year will be a warm one; when Venus is in the ascendancy, a rainy one; etc.

Many of the larger Maḥzorim contain items of this kind; as, for example, the Roman Maḥzor edited by Luzzatto and the Vitry Maḥzor. So, too, in the "Sefer Yeraḥme'el" there is an elaborate treatise on meteorology, containing prognostications based on the occurrence of rain on certain days, or of thunder on such days. Thus, if it rains on the new moon of Nisan, there will be death among the cattle.

Bibliography:
  • M. Gaster, Jewish Weather-Lore, in Jew. Chron. Nov. 13, 1891, pp. 7-8.
S. J.
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