Missive for a Snow-Covered Shabbat

10 Feb

Some of you may recognize this – I wrote it and posted it as a Facebook note about 3 or 4 years ago after a particularly beautiful morning snow on a Friday night into Saturday.  Since it is Friday, and we’re getting snow in Chicago, I wanted to share it again.


I put this in my “status update” but thought I’d expand a bit here. One of my favorite things has to be Friday-into-Saturday snowstorms. I have always enjoyed them, and since becoming Jewish, they really are special to me. Here’s why .. 

Speaking in a purely secular level, there is something immensely satisfying about wrapping a Friday as the snow is imminent. If you’re a commuter to work (which thankfully, I am not unless it’s an airplane coming home from somewhere), you rush to leave work a little early to beat the traffic and the storm. If the timing is perfect, you get home as the first few flakes are coming down, wetting the highway, but not messing things up. That little win right there is immensely satisfying. 

From there, you kick back, relax and enjoy the feeling of “the work of the week is done”, enjoy dinner with the family, and occasionally steal a glance out the window as the storm picks up strength and really begins to snow in earnest. Perhaps you step outside with the dog or even just with a cup of coffee or a cocktail and enjoy the silence – the silence of the weekend, the way the snow muffles all sound … peaceful. 

Then, Saturday morning, you arise – perhaps earlier than normal, because you know that outside awaits a beautiful scene! A fresh snowstorm that DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DEALT WITH! You can luxuriously relax and look out the window over a steaming cup of coffee and smile, knowing there’s no where to go, no hurry and no hassle. Snow is so much more beautiful on the weekend than it is during the week. Eventually, mid-morning perhaps if it is done snowing, you bundle up with boots, hat, gloves and head out to shovel. This time taking your time in the task. Perhaps meeting at the end of the driveway with your neighbors for a chat over the shovels and snowblowers. 

I happily am blessed with “The World’s Largest Snowblower” – 28 inches wide, 8 1/2 horsepower, tank-track drive, the works. I call it The Snowminator. It can chew through and process positively prodigious quanties of snow without a fuss. It is clearly a tool much larger than the task – I got it when we had our previous house with a 2 1/2 car-wide, 5-car-length long driveway, and 350 linear feet of sidewalk around our corner lot. Now we live in a cul-de-sac on a pie-shaped lot with 50 feet of sidewalk, and only three-cars-long on our 2-car-wide driveway. So I make sure I do plenty of neighboring on snowy mornings – I clear the older couple’s driveway next door to the north, clean up the Rabbi’s driveway to our other side after his plow service has left a mess, do sidewalks around the neighborhood, and help out any neighbors battling with the snowplow pile on end of the drive. 

So why does a Friday night snow invoke a uniquely Jewish feeling in me? Well for starters (and for my non-Jewish friends, the Jewish Sabbath (“Shabbat”) starts at sundown Friday night), there is something decidedly “Shabbat-supporting” of a Friday night snow. Shabbat is for gathering with family and friends and celebrating God’s gift of a day of rest. As the day winds down and the sun sets, the family gathers and we light our Shabbat candles and sing the blessings of Shabbat. We have a prayer and toast with our wine and say a prayer over our bread. A warm scene always, but one made cozier and warmer by the snow gently falling outside the window. 

Then, because of the snow, we tend to cancel plans – perhaps we do venture out to be one of the hardy souls attending services that evening, perhaps not. But the snow helps to ensure the kids have cancelled their plans for the night and that the family is together. We “bunker in” – light a fire, perhaps put on a movie, or just all cuddle up with our books and the dog and read in the same room. The silence provided by the snow adds to the peace of Shabbat. Often later in the evening, we will venture out to a friend’s home, or our friends will come to us – to gather, to bunker in and enjoy togetherness. 

Saturday morning, again, the languid pace of not needing to be anywhere, combined with the daylight revealing the beauty that God gave us overnight, provides a wonderful spirtual experience. I put on a little jazz or folk music, respark the fire, get a cup of coffee and with Sprite pup in my lap, just sit in the front window and watch it snow. After the snow ends, I fire up The Snowminator, and going out and helping my friends gives me a feeling of Tzedakah – of goodness and good deeds to others. 

All a great experience. Regardless of your religious birth, upbringing, choosing or not thereof, a snow covered morning without a workday attached to it is a thing of beauty to be savored and enjoyed. 

For those getting the white stuff, enjoy the snow this morning. This is a rare treat. 

As you were … and Shabbat Shalom. 

Stew

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One Response to “Missive for a Snow-Covered Shabbat”

  1. carpetbagger February 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Sounds great. I love Friday night snowstorms, too. It’s goy-tastic. Love living in the city during a snowstorm. Brings an eerie silence.

    Not much of that this year.

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