Snow is a rarity in Israel, and if it comes, it’s usually only the children in Jerusalem and Judean Hills and Tsfat (Safed) who get ready to make snowmen. But when it comes, it’s not just time to frolic, it’s also time to reflect on what this rare event in Israel really means.
The Land of Israel is dependant on rain for God’s blessing. The sages consider rain a gift of God’s “Chesed” – lovingkindness. Water is the life-giving and life-sustaining force and it is given in a form that is immediately useful.
Snow, however, is “frozen water,” and is not immediately useful. We don’t see it as a sign of Chesed – Kindness. It is actually a sign of Divine Justice or Judgement. God is ‘holding back” (Gevura) part of the blessing of the water.
This is a Divine message that we are doing something wrong as a nation that needs correcting.
Egypt had the Nile River which allowed them the ability to raise crops all year round with no need for rain. This caused them to think that their harvests were a result of their own efforts, or worse, a gift from the “Nile God.”
God wanted the Jewish people to always understand that blessings always come from God. That’s why He gave us a country without a Nile River and made us dependent on rainfall. This forces us to pray to the Almighty three times a day for the blessing of rain. When it comes, we look at it as a “free gift” that allows us to live on the land as a nation to fulfill His Will.
When our prayers for rain are answered with snow, it should give us pause to think about why God is answering us with “Justice” and not “Kindness.”
So a snowstorm is a good time to reflect on who is really sustaining us and has the power to bring peace to Israel and the world.
You may be wondering why Jerusalem and Tsfat get snow, and Tel Aviv and we in Yavne’el do not. As a small country altitude affects temperatures much more than geographical location (north or south). Tel Aviv and Yavne’el are at sea level, and that means our temperatures rarely get down to freezing.
The last time Yavne’el received snow was in 1992! Above is an old picture our neighbor sent us. Coincidentally it has a picture of our house (which also hosts our Galilee Green offices). It’s just to the left of center with the big slanted roof. Tiberias is on the hilltop in the distance on the left.