Tag Archives: Blood

The Mystical Meaning of Snow

This week we begin reading Shemot, the Book of Exodus, and are reminded of some of the smaller details which are sometimes forgotten. One of these is when Moses asked God to provide him with signs that he could use to prove to the Israelites that he is really the redeemer (Exodus 4). God gives Moses three signs: the first is Moses’ staff transforming into a serpent, the second is Moses’ hand becoming “leprous like snow”, and the third is turning water into blood.

The first sign we later see expanded in the famous episode where Moses and Aaron go head-to-head with Pharaoh’s magicians and a serpentine battle ensues. The third sign would, of course, become the First Plague. But what of the middle sign? What is the meaning behind Moses’ hand becoming snowy? Even more intriguingly, the word “snow”, sheleg (שלג), actually appears for the very first time in the Torah right here. As a general rule, when a word appears for the first time in the Torah, it is there that we find its true significance. What is the spiritual significance of snow? Continue reading

Israel and the Iron Age

In this week’s parasha, Ekev, Moses describes the rich land of Israel and says it is “a good land, a land with brooks of water, fountains and depths, that emerge in valleys and mountains, a land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and honey…” This first part of the description is well-known, and the source for the Seven Species of Israel. These are the seven plants that are particularly praiseworthy, and are native to the Holy Land: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (which were used to make the honey that Moses is speaking of). The Zohar explains that all other species of plants have various angels appointed over them, but God alone oversees the growth and flourishing of the Seven Species (see Zohar Chadash on Ruth, 106a).

What we often overlook is the next part of Moses description: “a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, you will lack nothing in it, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose mountains you will hew copper.” Moses promises the Israelites a land full of iron and copper. This statement is actually just as significant as the Seven Species! What is so special about iron and copper that it was so enticing for Israel? Continue reading

The Zohar’s Amazing Scientific Knowledge of the Eyes

Within the Zohar’s commentary on this week’s parasha, Ha’azinu, is the treatise known as the Idra Zuta. This text describes the well-known narrative of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and includes his very last discourse to his students. It is one of the most profound and penetrating teachings in the Zohar. It isn’t a coincidence that it was wedged within Ha’azinu, which our Sages similarly described as the deepest and most cryptic parasha of the Torah. A significant part of the Idra Zuta concerns matters of light and vision. Incredibly, the Zohar describes things that scientists only uncovered centuries later. In fact, one of these famous scientists may have used the Zohar as the inspiration for his discovery! Continue reading