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Icy Hearts

by Rabbi Velvel Gurkow


Library » Miscellaneous » The Jewish Calendar | Subscribe | What is RSS?


In the winter, the ice and bitter winds take on a character of their own. The agents of winter make their way around our world, settling upon oceans and neighborhoods alike; indifferent to the wants and needs of those affected. They quietly force us into our houses and convert our colorful landscapes into doldrums of monotony.

The Kabbalistic masters have always taken an unkind approach to that kind of cold. The kabbalistic masters speak forebodingly about any extreme, and extremes of the thermometer are no different. They tell us that the element of cold does indeed have a character—an unforgiving and bitter one it is, and it denies us the ability to accept or feel the needs of others. The cold-blooded man will methodically go about his business, insensitive to the heartrending pleas of others.

As I fought my way through the latest of Montreal’s winter storms, I found myself thinking about the character traits of this mean season.

Nobody likes cold rainy mornings. Pelting rain on a car’s windshield and muddy footsteps in the company lobby are the fathers of depressing work days. Once that gloomy depression sets in, closing the Venetian blinds and wiping wet boots on the company mat does little to cheer us up.

Our communication with the ice consists of one word; Icebreaker, and the only way to converse with its character is through obliteration
Then, when the rainy season matures, it introduces the slush feature. Growing puddles and brown marsh on the pavement are antonyms to bright cheerful sunrays. Depression can sometimes be the winter’s way of saying good morning.

Depression though, is only one of winters many weapons. Winter also embodies the notion of calculated revenge. Quietly and stubbornly it refuses to bend or be influenced by others. The hard unforgiving rigidity of winter’s ice exemplifies the ruthless placidness of long standing grudges. It will not give in and refuses to listen.

It will soon snow, and when it does the slippery ice will be covered. We will once again be able to make our way across the ice and go about our daily lives, but underneath, the ice lies waiting. Unchanged and unrelenting.

Sometimes, our only protection from that ice is but a light dusting of snow. A masked invitation, but sooner or later that camouflaged coldness will fight its way through. The feelings which it harbors will surge forward in full glory and exact their vengeance.

Truth is, depression and revenge are really one and the same. Depression, like apathy and lethargy, is an offshoot of the cold icy character. It will also enjoy the same shelf life of that winter and left unbothered, will intensify with age.

Our communication with the ice consists of one word; Icebreaker, and the only way to converse with its character is through obliteration. Such notions must be ripped out of our lives and destroyed.

It takes lots of toil and hard labor before we succeed, but slowly that character will give way and a new person will be born. One who can delight in the good fortune of others and learn to understand the feelings of his friends.

When the Icebreaker can finally be put away, spring will bring joy to the fresh and healthy spirit we have helped create.


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Philosophy » Character

(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.