12 December 2013


9 Tevet 5774

Israel in White

Well, the biggest story in Israel today is the winter snow storm. Facebook is full of pictures and videos of Israeli 'children' of all ages playing in the white stuff. But since I'm at a lower elevation, seeing only gray rain out my window, I thought I'd show solidarity by writing a follow-up to the previous post Micha'el - The Snow Angel.

Snow is generally thought of as a positive force of nature. It covers over all the world's blemishes with a pure white coating and softens all the harsh sounds of modern life. But, does snow have a darker side? Here are some interesting insights on snow from an Aish.com article by Rabbi Borouch Leff.  (Hat tip to Anonymous commenter for the link.)

Snow: The Dark Side

...Rabbi Tzadok of Lublin explains that there is a mystical klipah (barrier to holiness) called snow which is associated with the nation of Amalek, the Jews' arch-enemy. Amalek attacked the beleaguered Jewish people as they left Egypt, and God instructed us to remember this evil deed of Amalek, as they will always seek to harm the Jewish nation.

In fact, the Hebrew word for snow -- sheleg -- has a numerical value (gematria) of 333 -- the same as the word shich'cha, which means forgetfulness. This seems to suggest that snow is not a vehicle for growth at all. And when we venture outside on a snowy day, we are surrounded by forgetfulness and Amalek. What could this possibly mean?

The Torah tells us to remember what Amalek did as we left Egypt because he "happened upon you (karcha) and attacked."

The simple reading, as Rashi explains, is that Amalek's attack was a surprising and unexpected one -- "he happened upon you." A key aspect of their hideous crime was the sheer brazenness and trickery involved. However, Rashi suggests that karcha can also mean "he cooled you off," coming from the Hebrew word kar -- cold.

As Rashi explains, the Jews were compared to a hot, scalding bath of water, symbolizing their great passion for spiritual achievements as they left Egypt. But Amalek was willing to burn themselves by attacking the Jewish people with the aim of showing that the heat of inspiration will not endure. By doing so, Amalek cooled off the tremendous fear that all of the other nations had for the Jews, giving them license to attack as well.

Amalek, we see, relates to cooling.

You'll recall that I said the snow was following John Kerry (קרי) as he was expected back again on the same day as the storm, arriving to continue to apply pressure on Israel.

Kerry back in Mideast for new peace talk push

Continuing a furious pace of shuttle diplomacy aimed at securing an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by spring, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in the Middle East on Thursday on his ninth trip of the year.

In closed-door talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday and Friday, Kerry will be following up on elements of a West Bank security plan,....

With the Hebrew letters, you can clearly see the connection...

זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם:אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּב בְּךָ כָּל הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִים אַחֲרֶיךָ וְאַתָּה עָיֵף וְיָגֵעַ וְלֹא יָרֵא אֱלֹהִים:

You shall remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt, how he happened upon you on the way and cut off all the stragglers at your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he did not fear God. (Devarim 25:17-18)

And there is another place where the same word appears...

וְאִם בְּאֵלֶּה לֹא תִוָּסְרוּ לִי וַהֲלַכְתֶּם עִמִּי קֶרִי: וְהָלַכְתִּי אַף אֲנִי עִמָּכֶם בְּקֶרִי וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶתְכֶם גַּם אָנִי שֶׁבַע עַל חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם:

And if, through these, you will still not be chastised [to return] to Me, and if you [continue to] treat Me happenstance, Then I too, will treat you as happenstance. I will again add seven punishments for your sins: (Vayikra 26:23-24)

I don't think it is a stretch to say that Hashem is sending John Kerry to us over and over again to get across the message that we are behaving towards Hashem "b'kerry" - also translated as "casually" - offering Him a cold and dispassionate service.  If we want Kerry to stop what he's doing, we must change our ways and demonstrate to Hashem that we've got the message and are taking it seriously.

Just some food for thought on this cold and snowy day in the Land of Israel.


  1. And it will be cold indeed on Motzei Shabbat in Yesha. The temperatures on Motzei Shabbat/ Sunday morning are set to fall to 12 degrees Fahrenheit in what is for now a united Yerushalayim. Fahrenheit is a more precise scale than the Celsius scale. So I like using it. There are 9 degrees of Fahrenheit range for every 5 degrees Celsius. Yet, it must be said that I don't think that the temperature has ever fallen below 25 degrees Fahrenheit during the the ten winters that I have lived here. This is bizarre. 12 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT ON MOTZEI SHABBAT!! Protect your pipes by letting the water drip from your faucets on Motzei Shabbat!

    Great point Karcha baDerekh is a blast of Arctic air!

  2. Hey, Dov! I just had a wild thought. With all this talk of snow, suddenly Edward Snowden's name came to mind, Snow - din? What do you think?

    Though it's probably not a kosher siman mixing English with Hebrew, he was like a plague of destruction all on his own and they say he has only released about 1% of the information he is holding.

  3. I thought about this pasuq, when you were asked about a source for snow:

    אֵשׁ וּבָרָד, שֶׁלֶג וְקִיטוֹר; רוּחַ סְעָרָה, עֹשָׂה דְבָרוֹ. תהלים קמח,ח
    Fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind, fulfilling His word. Psalms 148:8

    Not a "source" per se for doing positive vs. negative things, but it does back up HaShem's "use of snow."

    Also, if Kerry is still here, it's like a new attempt at a "siege" on Jerusalem.

    I also have to be the one to remind us that Kerry is also a form of ritual impurity (קרי).

  4. Thanks for passing that along Esser. Just came across this...
    Edward Snowden, The Dark Prophet

  5. When I think of Edward Snowden, I feel snowed in. And we are.

    Here is something else about today's daf in Daf Yomi:

    Well, I just got a tip from an acquaintance. Today is the tenth of Tevet. The daf Yomi page for the day is Yoma 35. On that page, the Gemorrah relates the famous story of Hillel HaZaqen, during the month of Tevet, lying flat on the roof of the Beit HaMedrash of Avtalyon and Shemaya to drink in the words of Torah being spoken. He was on top of the roof all night long ON EREV SHABBAT listening when 3 amot (five feet) of snow fell on him. They found him the next morning and scraped him off the roof and gave him a place in the Beit HaMedrash in which he could not afford to pay the entrance fee. Yes, Hillel was that poor, but that committed to learning Torah. And I look outside, and it is snowing. five feet of snow in the forecast?? I don't know, but what a Daf for Daf yomi!!

  6. Dov, that's pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    Wishing everyone an easy fast and a warm, dry and peaceful Shabbat.


    The Mahdi is a dud.

    I couldn't resist ;-)

    Especially since Rashi comments about Ishmael at end of days would be like storm clouds that would be disbursed.


  8. Even Kerry says the snow was because of him:

    “I’ve heard of making your guests welcome and feeling at home, but this is as far as I’ve seen anybody go, giving me a nice New England snowstorm,” Kerry said during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.