Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reflecting on the ‘Snowpocalypse’
by Mark Pearlman of JInsider

Is it urban havoc or winter wonderland? With the East Coast shut down by a series of record-breaking snowstorms of late, JInsider wanted to dig deeper into the personal meaning of snow. We asked the always-thoughtful Amichai Lau-Lavie to explain this natural phenomenon.

Lau-Lavie is the founder and executive director of Storahtelling, Inc., an international organization advancing Jewish literacy and engagement. Also, to experience a truly different Purim, join Lau-Lavie and “Hadassah Gross” on Feb. 27 at City Winery. For more details visit

First Snow

The first time I saw snow was on Purim Day, in Jerusalem. I was 8 or 9 and we drove up to the city from our home near Tel Aviv, and at first I had
> no idea what I was looking at. Then I remember carefully lifting my long velvet cape (was I a superhero? a king? a queen?) and trying not to get it wet. Everything looked better under the snow, even Jerusalem. There was a sentence from the Yom Kippur prayer book that I remember understanding that day: “Your sins will be forgiven, white as snow.” How it covers everything, but only for a while.

The Holocaust

For my father, snow means always being back at Buchenwald, standing for hours on end at the roll call. If anybody urinated and a stain was seen on the snow, they’d be shot “for dirtying the beautiful snow,” my father said.


I look at the snow now outside my window, falling and filling the eye, and I wonder what the blessing is for snow? I make one up: “Bless You, Creative Creator, for whiting out what is and giving me new ways to wonder.” Then I rush off to build a snowman with the kids.

Deeper Reflection

There is an expression in Hebrew, Talmudic in origin, “It’s like yesterday’s snow” — intangible, here today, gone tomorrow. How big a deal is a sidewalk of snow when you have to cross it today. It won’t be here tomorrow. Look beyond the now; have perspective beyond the momentary fear or challenge.
Final thoughts: The Kabbalah of Snow
from Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Nothing is as it appears. What lies beneath the enchanting snowflakes floating gently from heaven to earth? Is this heaven speaking to us?

It says in the Zohar that snow is beneficial to both spirit and matter, body and soul of the human being. When it snows it means that there is an element of Divine energy being bestowed upon us from heaven. It blankets the earth and allows us to experience, if we’re open to it, a higher form and a higher wisdom.

Snow is the concept of explaining knowledge in metaphor. Its cosmic significance is this: To understand the process of how God created the universe, God could not allow the borders of divinity and spirituality to just flow ceaselessly and annihilate the boundaries of existence. God had to contain it, and the way He contained it is reflected in snow.

The mystique of snow is precisely because of its dual quality of heaven meeting earth, water meeting land. Next time you look at the snowflakes gently dropping from heaven, blanketing earth in its white embrace, remember that you are witnessing a kiss — the kiss of the Divine and the mundane.

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