Jerusalem: The cleansing nature of snow (With pictures)

I really can’t believe that I am here during this most beautiful time of the year. Yes I know I complain that I am cold and yes I complain that my toes are like ice blocks, and yes I do prefer spring, and summer for that matter, but I haven’t experienced a real snow since I moved out from Poland nine and a half years ago.

Last night I was freezing my limbs off waiting for the bus to take me to Har Nof. I waited more than 40 minutes (!) and the bus didn’t come. I was shivering when suddenly a car stopped and a religious man asked which way I was going suggesting that he could give me a lift if I knew how to direct him. Long story short he did drive me to where I needed to go to, though I was showered by one hundred questions about my relationship status and whether I would be willing to date him. He followed with a much less dignified offer, but by then I was out of the car, running and hiding from the freezing rain. Perhaps chesed was not the only thing that was on his mind, but he did drive me here nonetheless.

One thing I love about snow is that it covers everything that is dirty, muddy and grey with a white layer. It helps to forget. The reason why it follows autumn is because it coats all leaves, fruit, human and animal debris making the bad times the thing of the past. It coats all the remains of the things that we had attempted but failed, things that we had hoped for, but they died of natural causes, while the things that we had succeeded in building stand erected above the snow. It’s the time of reflection, beauty, hot radiators, mugs filled with tea and hot chocolate, blankets, family time and walking the dogs in the snow. It’s the time of fun, making snowmen, throwing snowballs and while enjoying all this (including the pain of freezing limbs), it’s the time to appreciate the beauty of each snowflake (interestingly they are shaped into the Star of David) and appreciate the transcendence, the passing of this beautiful moment. As things decompose under the snow waiting for the new season to start, promising new possibilities, new attempts, new hopes, potential, strength and, what’s important, no remnant of past attempts or failures… we face the new season of our lives both rested and hungry for vegetation.

It is also the day of Rosh Chodesh Adar. I can’t believe I am actually spending the beginning of this month in Jerusalem. Last year I was in London, probably at Aish HaTorah at the lesson, engaged in the activity of thinking about three impossible things that I wished for, that were crazy and unattainable. I was then to write them down and drink for Purim remembering how Hashem is veiled and though we may not see Him directly intervening every day, all developments in our lives push us into this one moment when all finally makes sense, where we see why things happened and what they were to teach us. One and a half out of the three impossible things happened to me between the last month of Adar and this one.

What is more, today the house buzzes with preparation for Shabbat, the challah dough is rising next to me, the food is being made, the family I am staying with continue with being their amazing regular selves, my friend got engaged, someone else is supposed to get married on Sunday, but we are not sure how this is going to happen considering the weather and… it’s just good and so peaceful to feel the life resting for a bit, slowing down. I think the combination of the snow, Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat has the best effect on me that no amount of books, food, talks, relaxation or even spa could have.

I wish you all Shabbat shalom, Chodesh Tov and lots and lots of snow!

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Kotel (the Western Wall) at night.
Kotel (the Western Wall) at night.

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