A Jewish Guide to Shoveling Snow
By Jordan Max
Last year, in Toronto, we had a lot of snow. I spent many
hours shoveling snow. Shoveling snow is boring work, and
after a while a mind tends to wander. So I resolved that
this year I would be prepared with lots to think about. I
researched and sent letters to key Jewish figures, polling
them for their keen insight on shoveling snow. Their
Ariel Sharon - "The important thing is to shovel the
entire width and breadth of the driveway, regardless of
what anyone else thinks."
Ehud Barak - "You must shovel most of the driveway, but
the exact dimensions of shoveling will be determined in
discussions with our neighbors. No wait, you can shovel
only in places where snow had previously fallen, but you
cannot shovel in places where no snow had fallen - wait,
don't do any shoveling until you hear from me!"
Yossi Sarid - "You should not shovel any part of the
driveway, since you really do not have any valid
historical or legal claim to the driveway, and it will
soon be given back to its rightful owners."
Artscroll Hilchos Sheleg ("Laws Regarding Snow; Ashkenaz
version, chapter 5) - "First approach the snow with the
proper kavanah, meditating on the concept of snow removal.
Recite the "...Who commanded us concerning the shoveling
of snow" benediction," then take three steps back, bend
the knees slightly with feet together, then look at the
snow, lift shovel and dig, turning right and then left,
bend knees fully, take three steps forward and deposit
snow deliberately. Repeat until done, then recite the
Sheheheyanu benediction, go indoors and have a hot drink,
remembering to say the Shehakol brocha (see Artscroll
Hilchos on Drinking Hot Liquids)..."
Tikkun Magazine - "What right do we have to violently take
snow from its rightful resting place? Snow has rights:
each snowflake is a unique individual, and we have
absolutely no right to do anything with it. Let the snow
decide for itself what it wishes to do, and then if it
wishes to be shoveled, do so humanely."
Rashi - "Snow, this is a form of solid precipitation that
clings to one's beard if you remain outside too long in
the winter season. (Old French: neige).
Shoveling is a Rabbinic precept, based on the verse in
Isaiah 1:18 - "If your sins be like scarlet, they will
turn as white as snows"
Birthright Israel - "It does not matter how the shoveling
is done, but the very act of Jewish teenagers shoveling
snow for ten consecutive days, under proper supervision,
will have a lifelong impact on Jewish identity."
Meir Ben-Meir (Israeli Water Commissioner) - "Just shovel
the snow as fast as you can, and ship it here. We are
running out of water fast! Is anyone listening to me?"
Rabbi David Hartman - "Snow is a potent force in the world
which unites all Jews. It falls on us all,regardless of
religious denomination and belief, and is therefore
instrumental in our understanding of Jewish unity and
diversity. In fact, just this week, I was explaining
the significance of snow to the Prime Minister, President
Weizman, President Clinton, and His Holiness the Pope, who
had asked my opinion."
The Late Lubavitcher Rebbe (from an epistle to a
disciple) - "Shoveling snow is a distraction from our
efforts to bring Moshiach, may He come soon, when in any
case there will be no snow to shovel. So leave it and let
it melt. If the Messiah does not come by Shavuos, the snow
will have miraculously disappeared anyway."
Now, if I could just find my boots.