Rav Shmuel Eliyahu on the Snow
Last week, we merited to have an abundance of snow after a long period of drought. It appears that HKB"H is showing us favor. The Gemara (Ta'anit 3b) says that the snow that falls on the mountains helps like 5 of the same quantity of rain that falls [elsewhere, and I quote].
Raba said: Snow is beneficial to the mountains as fivefold rain to the earth, as it is said, For heIt is possible that the reason for the diminished efficacy of rains on the mountains is because they run off them, whereas the snow's liquid is slowly absorbed therein and brings blessings to the ground.
saith to the snow, ‘Fall thou on the earth’; likewise to the shower of rain and to the showers of His mighty rain.
It is not for naught that the white snow gives a feeling of purity to those who contemplate it. The prophet Yeshaya (1:18) tells the Nation of Israel, "לְכוּ-נָא וְנִוָּכְחָה, יֹאמַר יְהוָה; אִם-יִהְיוּ חֲטָאֵיכֶם כַּשָּׁנִים כַּשֶּׁלֶג יַלְבִּינוּ, אִם-יַאְדִּימוּ כַתּוֹלָע כַּצֶּמֶר יִהְיוּ. [Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.]" The word "שנים" is connected, of course, to תולעת שני [scarlet thread of the Mishkan and priestly garments]. That Leshon Shel Zehorit that was red like blood and turned white like snow in the Beit Hamikdash on Yom Hakippurim is a sign of the purity of Israel.
The prophet Yeshaya said these words in the years before the Destruction of the Beit Hamikdash while the Nation of Israel was already engrossed in sins and the decree of Destruction was decreed upon them. Yeshaya said to them, "If you do Teshuva, everything will turn around to be good." Hashem expects the Teshuva of His children and not for their destruction, Halila.
Another place where snow is mentioned in the connotation of great purity is in the vision of Daniel, who saw that the 4 Kingdoms who subjugated the Nation of Israel for so many generations leading the world. Daniel saw a great big lion with wings and the angel who was standing there said that this was Bavel. He saw the Kingdom of Persia as a bear. He saw Greece as a winged leopard. Every kingdom, according to its nature, led the world during its years of reign.
At the end of the dream, he saw the Kingdom of Edom "דְּחִילָה וְאֵימְתָנִי וְתַקִּיפָא יַתִּירָה" [dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly] - stronger than all of them. He saw a murderous kingdom. וְשִׁנַּיִן דִּי-פַרְזֶל לַהּ רַבְרְבָן, אָכְלָה וּמַדֱּקָה, וּשְׁאָרָא ברגליה (בְּרַגְלַהּ) רָפְסָה [and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet] He saw that this Edomite beast was growing a small horn that spoke proud things. It would fight with Israel and overcome them. חָזֵה הֲוֵית--וְקַרְנָא דִכֵּן, עָבְדָא קְרָב עִם-קַדִּישִׁין; וְיָכְלָה, לְהֹן [I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them]. The Kingdom of Edom almost destroys Israel, and at that moment, HKB"H reveals Himself in His greatest revelation - Atik Yomin - and saves them. This is a very similar situation to the one when the Nation of Israel was in when they were between the Egyptians and the Yam Suf.
In the prophecy of Daniel, it says, "חָזֵה הֲוֵית, עַד דִּי כָרְסָוָן רְמִיו, וְעַתִּיק יוֹמִין, יְתִב; לְבוּשֵׁהּ כִּתְלַג חִוָּר, וּשְׂעַר רֵאשֵׁהּ כַּעֲמַר נְקֵא [I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: his raiment was as white snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool] In other words, "I saw until chairs were placed there for the purpose of a judgement that is destined to take place. Afterwards, the Atik Yomin came and sat on these chairs for judgement. His clothes were like white snow and His hair was like pure wool."
The King of the world, Who is revealing Himself as "Atik Yomin" causes the downfall of the final horn of the Kingdom of Edom and brings the Mashiah closer. He gives rulership, honor and kingship to the Nation of Israel. וּמַלְכוּתָא וְשָׁלְטָנָא וּרְבוּתָא, דִּי מַלְכְוָת תְּחוֹת כָּל-שְׁמַיָּא, יְהִיבַת, לְעַם קַדִּישֵׁי עֶלְיוֹנִין [And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High] And to them, all will listen. מַלְכוּתֵהּ, מַלְכוּת עָלַם, וְכֹל שָׁלְטָנַיָּא, לֵהּ יִפְלְחוּן וְיִשְׁתַּמְּעוּן. their kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.'
The connotation of the white clothes of Atik Yomin is Hesed and atonement of sins. Hashem is not going to judge us with unmitigated justice, but with a large amount of Hesed. He bleaches our sins at this awesome time that the fourth kingdom is trying to destroy us. This is implied from the prophet Zecharia (chapter 3) who explains the implication of the clothes as atonement of sins.
Zecharia sees the Satan prosecuting against Yehoshua the Kohen Gadol. At that moment, HKB"H rebukes the Satan, and tells him, "How can you prosecute against a nation that has gone through so much suffering and afflictions? הֲלוֹא זֶה אוּד, מֻצָּל מֵאֵשׁ [ is not this man a brand plucked out of the fire?]" Hashem cleans the Nation of Israel from its sins and commands His angels, "הָסִירוּ הַבְּגָדִים הַצֹּאִים, מֵעָלָיו [Take the filthy garments from off him.]" And the implication is purity from sins, as HKB"H says, "וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, רְאֵה הֶעֱבַרְתִּי מֵעָלֶיךָ עֲוֹנֶךָ, וְהַלְבֵּשׁ אֹתְךָ, מַחֲלָצוֹת [Behold, I cause thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with robes.]"
That is the moment where HKB"H sprinkles upon us pure water to purify us. Upon this moment, it is said in Micha (7:18) מִי אֵל כָּמוֹךָ, נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וְעֹבֵר עַל פֶּשַׁע, לִשְׁאֵרִית, נַחֲלָתוֹ: לֹא הֶחֱזִיק לָעַד אַפּוֹ, כִּי חָפֵץ חֶסֶד הוּא יָשׁוּב יְרַחֲמֵנוּ, יִכְבֹּשׁ עֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ; וְתַשְׁלִיךְ בִּמְצֻלוֹת יָם, כָּל חַטֹּאותָם. תִּתֵּן אֱמֶת לְיַעֲקֹב, חֶסֶד לְאַבְרָהָם, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ, מִימֵי קֶדֶם. [Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth the iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will again have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.]