Friday, December 13, 2013

Call Me Sheleg

The goal of this email is foster a warm + cozy conversation at your Shabbat table. Please print and share...

Jerusalem snow-covered palmsGreetings from snowy Jerusalem.

After a decade of saving credit card points, I was privileged to come on a free flight.

The snowstorm on the East Coast was so fun that I decided to bring it with me to Israel.

Last year's blog about snow was so popular that in honor of the moment, I'm going to run it again today.

The question for your table is:

Why is a fresh snowfall so magical?

Think about it for a moment.

Is it because snow softens the sounds, slows the pace?

Is it because snow closes schools and is fun to play in?

The Hebrew word for snow is sheleg.

Normally, we look for significance of a word by how it's used in the Torah.

Sheleg is not used qua snow, rather to describe a perfect whiteness, as in "your sins will be made white as snow."

But the word sheleg has a peculiar quality.

Peculiar, that is, to those who study gematria (numerology). It's numerical value is 333.

Numerologists read that as: "The number three expanded to the utmost."

Or, "the ulimate in three-ness."

But what  is "three-ness"?

The number 3 in Jewish thought represents something foundational about humanity: "The world stands on 3 pillars: Torah, Avodah and Chesed" (Pirkei Avot).

(Loose translation: wisdom, spirituality, kindness)

These three qualities are exemplified by the three Patriarchs: Avraham (Abraham), Yitzchak (Isaac), Yaakov (Jacob).

Perhaps this numerology is the key to the lesson of snow.

We need those 3 pillars - Torah, Avodah and Chesed - to have a stable world. Snow shows us what the world would look like when we get the right balance of those three.

It's magical - blanketing the world with a clean whiteness, smoothing over all the bumps, hiding all the dirt.

snow-jerusalem-01-10-2012-12Yes, we know the dirt is there, and will be back soon enough.

But isn't it fun for a few minutes to pretend that it isn't?

But it's more than pretending. That magic is teaching us something.

It's reminding us what the world could look like all the time, if each of us worked on the area(s) where we are deficient in our own triangle.

Final question for your table: What's lacking most in the world - Torah, Avodah or Chesed?

Shabbat Shalom 

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