Finding Warmth This Winter

How do we stay warm in the winter? Comedian Milton Berle, of blessed memory, used to quip that his wife was going to need a new fur coat. Jerry Seinfeld routinely suggests retiring to his parents’ condo in Boca. Yet, we know that the real protection from the raw elements in nature is provided by the Almighty.

Here are several of my own suggestions to hearten the soul, warm the spirit and celebrate the beauty of the season.

  1. Pray with fervor!
  2. Bake fresh challah.
  3. Take a steamy shower or bath multiple times a week.
  4. Listen to relaxing music to find inner peace.
  5. Drink lots of piping hot chicken soup – the Jewish Penicillin!
  6. Increase your metabolism by running to do a good deed.
  7. Perform acts of kindness. Warning: May be contagious.
  8. Speak loving words to others and watch as it warms their hearts.
  9. Tell a great story or joke to perk someone up.
  10. Make a blessing over a toasted bagel or hot cocoa.
  11. Paint a beautiful scene from nature using vibrant colors.
  12. Brighten the world with your smile.

Weathering the storm is nothing new to the Jewish people. As Mark Twain, the legendary writer, pointed out, our history is packed with examples of overcoming environmental challenges. The famous SADS syndrome – Spirit, Attitude, Determination and Survival keeps us alive and moving forward despite the climate.

Interestingly, our spiritual life is compared to water, which, like falling snow, descends from on high, then trickles down to earth. Likewise, the snow showers that occur during these months can be opportunities for spiritual osmosis, if only we let our Heavenly Creator’s divine teachings touch our souls.

Let’s abide by the proverb which states, “If your life is not as you will it, adjust your will to your life!” After all, true joy comes from within, and we have the power to form our own happiness. The biblical King Solomon tells us “To everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Yes, there will be intense, chilly weather ahead, but there will also be forthcoming periods of sun and renewal – and that is certainly something to be glad about.

In Deuteronomy (26:11) we are instructed to “Rejoice in all the good that G-d has given [us].” And yet another proverb reminds us how important a good attitude is to our health: “A merry heart is a good medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” The Talmud tells us that there are three elements that can restore a person’s spirit: beautiful sounds, sights and scents. So, if you are feeling down, imagine the crackling of golden logs in a fireplace or the aroma of fresh kugel floating through your home. Think about the purity of pristine snow or the way that delicate icicles act as prisms of sunlight.

It is my hope that you’ll internalize these insights this winter season, and allow them to both fuel your spiritual life and warm your soul.