The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 12 January 2008 / 5 Shevat 5768

Snow and Fire

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The movie house in Jerusalem was a source of great disturbance to the leaders of the city's religious Jews, especially Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld. When the city was hit by a severe snowstorm in 1919 the venerable rabbi saw it as a sign from Heaven that his troubles would soon be over.

Arriving at a synagogue in Meah Shearim to perform a circumcision he noticed the Jew who had in partnership with an Arab built that offensive theater. Turning to him he quoted the passage, "Though your sins be like scarlet they shall be washed white as snow," as a warning that the snowstorm would wipe out his abomination. Turning to the crowd he asked if the movie house was still standing. When informed that it was, he announced that the day was still young.

It wasn't long afterwards that the roof of the movie house collapsed under the weight of the snow. The Arab partner, however, failed to appreciate this as a Heavenly sign and proceeded to rebuild the theater and even show movies on Shabbat. A few weeks after the reopening a fire broke out on Friday night and completely destroyed the offensive building.

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