Written for Temple Gates of Prayer Bulletin, Early Winter 2011
Just a few days ago I experienced my first glimpse of falling snow. What a beautiful thing to see! Of course there was barely enough to “stick” on the ground, but I was completely satisfied! As I turned on my car to drive in to the city, the classic holiday tune “Winter Wonderland” appropriately came on the radio, and I enjoyed singing along with joy as I drove through a neighborhood of snow-covered lawns and roofs.
I thought to myself, “Everyone warns what a pain it is to have a real good snow out here. How can anyone complain about something so beautiful?!” (Granted, I have never shoveled snow, nor have I fallen on my tuchus by slipping on ice, but still - what a beautiful thing!). So I had to question the voice on the radio - is this really a “winter wonderland”?
Then, as my thoughts continued, my mind turned to the words of our liturgy. If you come to the morning minyan and pay attention you’ll notice that Rabbi and I, in our private devotions, will occasionally daven some verses of the text aloud. Sometimes this is to help pace the service, and more often than not it is because the words speak to us - the meaning, the rhythm, the poetry. There is one such verse that Rabbi Thaler sings almost every morning in the 148th Psalm: “Praise Adonai, all who share the earth...fire and hail, snow and smoke, storms and winds which obey God’s command...” This verse is, for many reasons, very important (I’ll be happy to share my thoughts with you), but I think it is so appropriate to this winter season.
We must remember that just as our own lives are in God’s hands, so, too, is command of everything around us. And, as Kohelet teaches (and as does Pete Seeger), “For everything there is a season”.
While I recognize (and will likely agree with everyone who has shared with me the joys of shoveling and de-icing) that winter is not an easy time of year, let us begin each morning if not with praying a full service, with the 148th Psalm. Let us heed the call to praise God - the heavens, the earth and all who dwell there. Let us realize the beauty of our world and how fortunate we are to share in the miracle of a new day in this winter wonderland.
Sarah and I wish you all a warm and safe winter season. May blessings of health, joy and special moments with friends and family fall upon each of us as the snowflakes fall upon God’s earth.
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