Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow in Jewish Culture - Spiritual Web Journey

"God says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth...'"Job 37:6

With lots of snow predicted for this weekend, here are some little-known "facts" about snow in Jewish tradition and lore (some more serious than others):


Many traditional Jewish congregations refuse to count snowmen in the prayer quorum.

Medieval Jewish mystics practiced rolling in the snow to purge themselves from evil urges. They were the first snow angels.

Moses Maimonides, 10th century physician to the Egyptian Khalif, prescribed snow as a cure for the hot Cairo summers.

The elders of Safed have 36 different words for snow -- but none for snow removal.

During 3 particularly cold Sinai winters, the Israelites were led by a pillar of snow.

It is forbidden to write in the snow on the Sabbath.
(if you are interested in this topic, see and – halachot on writing on Shabbat and on walking on snow

Following the great Jerusalem blizzard of 1900, Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl proposed the "Uganda option."

According to some rabbinic authorities, one must wait six hours between going out in the snow and in the rain.

On snowy days, the procession of King Solomon's immediate family was pulled by 2,800 reindeer and 1,200 huskies.

Israel's national hockey team participated in the 1992 Winter Games, dominating both the Olympic village and concession area.

On January 9, 1896, a snowball from St. Patrick's elementary school landed in Mrs. Manischewitz's kitchen, inspiring her to invent matzo ball soup.

Spiritual Meaning of Snow, by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Who has not been awed by the beauty of the city or countryside covered in snow? The serenity and whiteness of snow attracts us. We sense the purity of snow when we wake up in the morning and the streets, which are so often filled with grime, are all covered with a white blanket of snow. Snow is a great equalizer - no matter how big the building, or the car, whether a Lexus or a Hyundai, they’re all covered equally by the snow. Snow has the ability to cover over the impurities of life and remind us of our own purity.

So snow is heaven speaking to us - speaking to us through purity, speaking to us gently and gradually on our terms. Snow is the intermediary stage between heaven and earth; ice is a little closer to the level of earth; sleet is in between snow and ice. Thus every weather condition sends us a message and lesson - whether it’s rain, snow, ice, sleet or hail.

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