Torah thoughts during a snowstorm

Here in New Jersey we are having our second snow storm within a week. Lots of snow and power outages (mine was out for a while today). During the storm, my thoughts turned to Torah. In the Midrash Pirke d’Rabbi Eliezer chapter 3, verses 1-2,7-8   we read (translation from, Gerald Friedlander edition, London 1916):

You can see in verse 8 the reference to snow. There reference to Job (37:6) states(translation from The Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by JPS):

The power went out while I was typing this, but managed to save most of my draft. Most of the midrash should not be interpreted literally, but i find the references to snow intriguing. The word sheleg (snow) alludes to a higher level of divine energy. Being white, snow reflects all colors, and what we see depends upon what is incident upon it. It is is the essence of purity. But snow can get dirty on the earth as the ground gets mixed into it (hiding its reflecting power). In much the same way, as creations of Hashem, we do not see the Divine essence behind His creations (recall the Purim story). Sheleg is shin-lamed-gimmel (shel-gimmel), meaning “belonging to” or “made of” the “three” (the three divine attributes of chochmah, binah, and da’at), or the three levels of the soul (nefesh, ruach, neshamah), or from kabbalah “chochmah, chessed, and din”; wisdom, mercy, and judgment). The gematria of the word sheleg is 333 and has the same root letters meaning “to go down” (gimmel-lamed-shin). Thus, The creation of the world involved the transference (shefa)of of divine energy (which the midrash and Job compare it to the “snow beneath the Throne of Glory”(cf. Ezekiel’s vision).

It is very quiet after a snowfall, but the stress of digging out, loss of power, destruction, possible flooding, and even deaths shows the power of forces often out of our control. Stay safe and let’s pray for spring.

About the Author
Jonathan Wolf is a retired high school physics teacher. He retired to NJ with his wife. He is an adjunct professor of physics at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has published professional papers and has been the author of AP Physics review books as well as general HS and college physics review books. He is a past President and ritual chairman at a conservative synagogue on Long Island, NY before he retired to NJ.
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