The mist and the snake

  • AidelKazilsky
Jerusalem has always been the eye of the universe. Since time immemorial, the city, and particularly, the Temple Mount, has always been a place of profound spirituality and prophecy.

Our rabbis teach that the Even haShetiya (the foundation stone) of the world is found here, and from it, the rest of the world was created. It’s the place where earth was gathered from all four corners of the world, and Adam was formed. Our forefather Abraham brought his son Isaac to this sacred mountain to be sacrificed. Our two holy temples rested on this mountain for more than 800 years. Consequent to their destruction, our eyes and hearts always looked towards the one remaining wall, known as the Kotel, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.

Throughout the generations we have prayed towards this wall, and we recognise, soulfully, that there is an element of holiness that rests there. So, it comes as no surprise that any untoward incidents at the Kotel will be scrutinised and explored. They always seem to make news headlines.

In the past two months, such incidents have been reported with increasing frequency. During Hoshana Rabba (this past Sukkot), at sunrise, a Facebook blogger, Josh Wander, who is a Mount of Olives resident, was facing his camera towards the Temple Mount when a large white cloud seemingly rose up out of the ground from the Temple Mount.

His reflections and video went viral, and speculation abounded. Wander himself wrote, “I am certainly not the kind of person who sees signs in nature. But this was too out of the ordinary to ignore. It looked eerie, and the location, the site of the Holy of Holies, is too significant.”

It indeed looked eerie, and perhaps it rings true of the verse in Isaiah (44:22) “I will wipe away your sins like a cloud, your transgressions like mist… Come back to Me, for I will redeem you.”

Just over a month later, news sources everywhere described the appearance of a snake that slithered out of a crevice of stone in the women’s section of the Kotel.

The coin snake, which is common to the area, is not venomous, but is similar looking to a deadly viper also found in Israel. It was probably looking for a meal of pigeons (that live among the crevices) or perhaps their eggs. Thankfully, a skilled snake catcher was summoned, and it was removed safely from the area.

Coincidence or divine providence? To a believing Jew, who understands that nothing is orchestrated without the hand of G-d, this again begs the question, “What is this all trying to tell us?” And again, many suggestions have been put forth.

The snake made its appearance during a week in which the mayoral candidacy for Jerusalem was hotly contested. Some postulated that the snake’s appearance at the Temple Mount, was to remind us that divisiveness and hatred destroyed the Temple, and that we should be aware that such actions today will only bring destruction upon us.

In the Kabbalistic work the Zohar, we are taught that the word for snake in Hebrew, nachash, has a numerical value of 358, the same numerical value of Mashiach (the Messiah). This postulating contended that the snake came to remind us that we are, in fact, experiencing the birth pangs of Mashiach, and very soon, the world will experience the revelation of the Messianic age.

Continuing further, the Zohar explains that the Hebrew word for snake, nachash, can be rearranged to spell out the word “choshen”, the breastplate that the high priest wore, during Temple times. It was from this breastplate that kings and leaders would seek the word of G-d.

Hence the parallel derived here was that the snake suggested that very soon, we will witness the rebuilding of our temple, the restoration of the divine service in the temple, and the use of the breastplate as a guide to all things spiritual.

It would be remiss if we also overlooked the fact that the snake was found in the women’s section! Immediately, the story of the Garden of Eden comes to the fore, and the saga of how the woman, Eve, ate of the Tree of Knowledge, good and evil, only because she listened to the advice of the serpent (Genesis 3:1).

Again here much speculation abounds. Women are intricately involved in correcting this primordial sin. Many Jewish works describe the foundational and important work that needs to be done by Jewish women in not only rectifying the repercussions of the original sin, but in playing a primary role in advancing and bringing about the final redemption.

Perhaps, one can say that the snake appeared to remind women of the task at hand, and that soon, the evil brought into the world as a result of eating from the Tree of Knowledge will be reversed.

Undoubtedly, there is much to learn here. It may all be unnerving and somewhat uncomfortable. One may also dismiss it with a cynical wave of the hand or a disbelieving frown.

I like to frame it in the context of much bigger things. The snake and the mist are not the only signs that foretell of Messianic times. Our world as we know it currently is fulfilling many, many prophecies of the Bible, too many to fit into one article.

Ultimately, it’s good advice and prudent to err on the side of caution – if all that is said above is true, what should we do?

I venture to say, hop on board and make it happen! Do a random act of goodness and kindness, take on another mitzvah, learn what Judaism says about this era of redemption.

Because after all, who doesn’t want to look forward to a Messianic world, which ushers in an era of peace, health and harmony?

  • Rebbetzin Aidel Kazilsky is a radio and television host, and an inspirational speaker who teaches the wisdom of Torah and applies it to contemporary times.


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