1 Now when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2He said, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather because the sky is red,’3and in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today because the sky is red and darkening.’ You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
Date: 70-90 C.E. (based on scholarly estimates)
§ The Gemara asks: And with regard to the smoke of the arrangement, is it so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow it, they do not move it from its place and it rises directly heavenward? Didn’t Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Avdimi say: At the conclusion of the final day of the festival of Sukkot, everyone looks to the smoke of the arrangement of wood; if the wind blew from the south and the smoke tends toward the north, the poor were glad and the homeowners were sad. This is because it was a sign that the year’s rains would be plentiful, producing an abundant crop on the one hand, but on the other hand, the fruit would rot due to the humidity, rendering it impossible to store the abundant harvest. This forced the landowners to sell quickly at a lower price. And if a northern wind caused the smoke to tend toward the south, the poor were sad and the homeowners were glad, because it was an indication that the year’s rains would be sparse. The yield would be low, and it would be easy to store the fruit and sell it at a higher price. If a western wind caused the smoke to tend to the east, that was an indication that there would be sufficient rainfall to ensure a substantial crop, and at the same time, it would be possible to store the fruit, and everyone was glad. If an eastern wind caused the smoke to tend to the west that was an indication that there would be a drought because eastern winds do not bring rain, and everyone was sad. Apparently, wind causes the smoke rising from the arrangement of wood to move. The Gemara responds: The smoke comes and goes like a palm tree, swaying in the wind, but it did not disperse.