Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I love snow.

Growing up in Cleveland, snow was a very large part of the winter experience; some years we would have snowfall as early as Succos and as late as Pesach. In my hometown, your attitude towards snow was very clear - you either loved it or hated it.

If you were anywhere in the Tri-State area earlier this week, then you're probably still feeling the lingering effects of the mini blizzard we had on Sunday. Although the forecasts predicted heavy precipitation in the early afternoon, I had decided to go to yeshiva anyway, and play it by ear. Sure enough, by noon the snow was coming down steadily, and our Rosh Yeshiva encouraged the commuters (the bulk of our kollel) to return home before conditions worsened.

On my way home I made a detour to the local grocery to stock up on important items in anticipation of being snowed in for an extended period of time. As soon as I got home, the sky really opened up and covered us with layer upon layer of beautiful white snow.

One of the things I love about being snowed in is the chance it gives me to spend time with my family. Yesterday I spent time playing with my two little boys, and snuggling on the couch reading Safta Simcha to them (I don't think either of them understood the story, but they still enjoyed it.). My wife and I had a chance to sit and talk and enjoy each other's company in a way that is usually reserved for Shabbos, when we're both already extremely tired.

Moreover, I love the contemplation and insight that I get from the snow. After a fresh snowfall, I love to gaze out at the white expansiveness and reflect. The virgin snow reminds me of what my neshama once was - pure and unadulterated - and what it could be again, with the right amount of dedication, consistency, and honest teshuva.

Walking to ma'ariv on Sunday night, I looked back at the knee-high depressions that my thick soled boots made in the freshly driven snow; I knew that when I came back this way fifteen minutes later, not a trace of those seemingly permanent tracks would be found. What a lesson about our time on this plane of existence - we think we are leaving a mark on this world after our relatively short lifespan, but can we ever be sure? Only with our focus on the real priorities of life, the values set out by the Torah and its paths to righteousness...

Finally, the silence. When it snows, the world is covered by a muffler that dampens all the ambient noise. In the stillness, you can finally hear yourself think. Bundled up in my coat, hat, hood and gloves, I stood outside in this beautiful white-washed world - serene in its cold quietness - and prayed like I've never prayed before...

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