by Simon Jacobson
Nothing is as it appears. What lies beneath the
enchanting snowflakes floating gently from heaven to earth?
From whence do these white angels originate? Is this heaven
speaking to us?
Mysticism teaches that everything in the physical universe
has a spiritual counterpart. Just as a teardrop is a manifestation
of human emotion, and anger is an expression of repressed
energy, so physical phenomena actually evolve from and are
a manifestation of a spiritual reality. Thus snow is a channel
of energy, it is a Divine voice speaking to us through visual
imagery so that we can experience it with our bodily senses.
Meteorologist may perceive snow to be a result of pressure
systems and precipitation levels; physicist will recognize
the subatomic particles that create snow; but the mystic sees
the cosmic energy that snow manifests and the facets of our
psyche that it illuminates.
Let us explore the spirit within the snow.
Water in all its forms is a symbol of knowledge. Descending
water represents the transmission of knowledge from a higher
to a lower place, the flow of information from teacher to
student. On a cosmic level, rain and snow reflect different
ways in which divine energy flows to us from a higher spiritual
Water flowing downward thus describes G-ds way of transmitting
His energy to us and represents the conduit through which
our material existence and G-d interact. The purpose of existence
is to create unity between G-d and man, so that we, in our
limited, material existence can become integrated and unified
in an intimate and equal relationship with G-d. To achieve
this neither the Divine nor the human can be compromised.
Unity achieved on G-ds terms would annihilate our identities,
our existence. Can we (our egos, vanities, and needs) co-exist
with G-d who is infinite, uncontained and undefined? And unity
attained on our material, finite terms would compromise
G-d, because He would have to limit Himself to our existence.
If water - the divine wisdom - were to flow continuously,
it would totally submerge and obliterate, not allowing space
for any other existence. So water flows in various measures
to allow for the transmission to be internalized. Sometimes
water flows as rain and sometimes it freezes to different
degrees producing snow, hail or sleet, which are all metaphors
for the teacher monitoring and transforming the flow into
forms that the student can contain and assimilate.
Rain is a transmission that is more on Divine terms. Admittedly
it falls in drops which symbolizes some level of contraction,
but it flows continuously like a stream of information retaining
its fluidity and it is absorbed quickly into the earth.
Ice on the other hand, is a transmission that is more on
the recipients terms. The information has solidified
into a compact state so that the student can internalize it.
The flow has ceased and turned into a solid form, so the student
is not overwhelmed by the continuous flow of new ideas.
Snow is an intermediary state between fluid water and solid
ice. In order to appreciate the spiritual implications of
this, we need to examine the properties of snow.
A snowflake needs at least two components in order to form.
In addition obviously to cold air, it requires water droplets
(vapor), and a nucleus. The nucleus is made up of dust, minerals
or other microscopic particles in the air. A snowflake is
formed when water takes shape around these microscopic particles
and the cold air turns it into ice crystals. Thus snow has
two components: water and earth - earth being the particles,
and the water being the droplets. Earth is the material world
- without any recognition of G-dliness; water is the knowledge
of G-d - divine energy without any containers. Thus snow,
being half heaven and half earth provides the perfect intermediary
between these two worlds.
Snow consists of separate snowflakes that are actually independent
properties - each comprised of about 100 ice crystals. Snowflakes
cling to each other but they are not intrinsically one. In
contrast, water is one unified entity. Although it consists
of droplets, each drop joins with another and they become
one body of water. What is the symbolism of this in the flow
When a teacher has to reach out to a student who is far beneath
his or her level of knowledge and understanding, he or she
cannot allow the water to just flow freely, it has to be dressed
up in metaphors and it has to be paced. In order for the student
to understand a new concept, the teacher needs to create a
point of reference by using examples, anecdotes, stories,
and analogies. Thus snowflakes represent the need to explain
gradually, step by step, in a language that is accessible
to the student.
Snow falls gently and silently, teaching us in our own process
of educating others and educating ourselves, that we need
gentleness. If we educate with a sledgehammer - with unceasing
rain pour - it will simply submerge and destroy the crops.
Even when it rains on earth, science tells us that on a higher
level, the beginning process could have originated in snowflakes.
So snowflakes are a symbol of that first gentle step.
Who has not been awed by the beauty of the city or countryside
covered in snow? The serenity and whiteness of snow attracts
us. We sense the purity of snow when we wake up in the morning
and the streets, which are so often filled with grime, are
all covered with a white blanket of snow. Snow is a great
equalizer - no matter how big the building, or the car, whether
a Lexus or a Hyundai, theyre all covered equally by
the snow. Snow has the ability to cover over the impurities
of life and remind us of our own purity.
So snow is heaven speaking to us - speaking to us through
purity, speaking to us gently and gradually on our terms.
Snow is the intermediary stage between heaven and earth; ice
is a little closer to the level of earth; sleet is in between
snow and ice. Thus every weather condition sends us a message
and lesson - whether its rain, snow, ice, sleet or
Ultimately, the intention is that the snow should melt and
turn to water. Once the snow falls and blocks our driveways
and streets, we want it to melt. In the education process
the student needs to pause which requires a freezing of the
water, but then at some point it has to melt and integrate
into our system in order for us to grow.
The idea of educating through metaphor is further expressed
through the numerical secret of snow. The gematria
(numerical equivalent) of the Hebrew word sheleg (snow)
is 333 (shin=300, lamed=30, gimmel=3).
It says in Kabbalah that sheleg is the gematria
of three times the letter alef. When you spell out
the letter alef, it is 111. (Alef, lamed,
and fei is 1+30+80=111.) So 111 times 3 is 333 which
What is the significance? The verse states, Vayidaber
Melech Shlomo shaloshes alafim moshel - King Solomon,
(the wise one) spoke in 3,000 metaphors. The number
3,000, three elefs (elef is one thousand), is
snow. (The letter alef also refers to the word elef,
1,000.) So snow relates to the concept of three thousand metaphors.
Whats the relationship between the two? Sheleg,
snow, is the concept of metaphor itself. The spiritual dimension
of snow serves as an intermediary between Divine energy and
the universe. Snow is the concept of explaining knowledge
in metaphor. Its cosmic significance is this: To understand
the process of how G-d created the universe, G-d could not
allow the borders of divinity and spirituality to just flow
ceaselessly and annihilate the boundaries of existence. G-d
had to contain it, and the way He contained it is reflected
The mystique of snow is precisely because of its dual quality
of heaven meeting earth, water meeting land. Next time you
look at the snowflakes gently dropping from heaven, blanketing
earth in its white embrace, remember that you are witnessing
a kiss the kiss of the Divine and the mundane.
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