DAY 593: Snow…Again

February 13, 2014
By bethmordecai
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DAY 593: Snow…Again

Dear Hevreh,

As a child, I loved it when it snowed. It felt like an unexpected gift because not only would it (usually) mean a day off from school, but the sight and feel of snow made me feel happy, even a little whimsical. There is such an indescribable beauty to the whiteness covering the earth that you might even call it spiritual.

Perhaps that spiritual element is embedded in a teaching from Pirkei D’rabbi Eliezer(chapter 3) which states:

הארץ מאי זה מקום נבראת? משלג שתחת כסא כבודו. לקח וזרק על המים ונקפאו המים ונעשו אפר ארץ שנאמר “כי לשלג אמר הוי ארץ” (אויב לז:ו) וכו

From where was the earth created? From the snow underneath [God’s] Throne of Glory. God took the snow and threw it on the “water” [of Gen 1:2] to freeze the water and thus make the dust of the earth, as it says “And God said to the snow ‘become earth'” (Job 37:6)

Indeed, when it snows in the land of Israel there are often reports like this one in which Kabbalists and other Jewish mystics view the falling snow (especially in Israel) as a sign that all of Israel’s sins are forgiven based on their reading of Proverbs 31:21. Thus, they roll around in the snow to be covered by God’s forgiveness and lovingkindness. Gives a new meaning to making a “snow angel,” don’t you think?

The whimsy and spiritual nature of snow can be especially felt the first time (or two) it snows during the year. But how about when it snows again…and again…and again? Today is currently the tenth snow storm of the winter season and as I look outside I don’t feel whimsical or elated, but a little deflated and tired of the interruptions that the snow is causing to our daily lives (and perhaps to our weekend schedule (STAY TUNED!)). As such it is interesting to note that the Zohar has a different interpretation of the aforementioned verse Proverbs than the Kabbalists.  The interpretation from the Zohar speaks of how snow is a sign of God’s judgment, not God’s mercy:

“On a snowy day” — a day when sins prevailed, and judgment was decreed above by the celestial court. Of this is written: “She is not afraid of snow for her household” (Proverbs 31:21) — [i.e. this verse proves that snow is a sign of] Judgement on high. Why? Because her “whole household is clothed in crimson” (Proverbs 31:21) and can endure the fierce fire (Zohar Introduction, 6b).

The snow is a reminder that we live at the whim of nature and as these these two interpretations teach us, being subject to nature, to God, can be both beautiful and/or terrible. We don’t have a choice as to whether or not the snow will come; it already has and always will be an unexpected “gift.” All we can choose is whether or not we will enjoy it or endure it…for the tenth time.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks


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