Join us for a Shabbat Service with special readings about nature and the environment.
Celebrate Earth Day!
This is an excellent opportunity to strengthen our individual roles as guardians of the earth by supporting environmental initiatives, planting trees or even tending a private garden.
The Torah begins with a thorough description of creation, it shows all the work that went into creating our world and the love and care that is needed.
The Midrash says: “When God created the first human, He showed him all the trees in the Garden of Eden … and said to him, ‘See My handiwork, how beautiful and choice they are … be careful not to ruin and destroy my world, for if you do, there is no one to repair it’”
(Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes 7:13).
Rules about nature are always present in Jewish literature:
“When you will come into the land, and you will plant any tree for food…” (Leviticus 19:23).
Planting trees is regarded as a foremost priority to care for the land.
“For three years [the fruit] shall be restricted to you, it shall not be eaten” (Leviticus 19:23).
Newly planted trees must be protected so that they can grow.
“When you lay siege to a city for many days to wage war against it and capture it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them” (Deuteronomy 20:19).
Even in times of war, the destruction of trees is forbidden.
We can find hints of these rules in other religions, for example native Americans honor the tree that provides fruit and ask for permission to harvest
Biblical law also recognized the importance of preserving the natural habitat and the ecological balance of each and every species:
“You make springs gush forth in torrents, they make their way between the hills, giving drink to all the wild beasts; the wild asses slake their thirst. The birds of the sky dwell beside them and sing among the foliage. … The trees of the L-rd drink their fill, the cedars of Lebanon, [G-d’s] own planting, where birds make their nest; the stork has her home in the junipers. The high mountains are for wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the rock badgers” (Psalms 104:10-18).
We are taught the importance of making use of all aspects of creation so let us enjoy this year’s Earth Day Shabbat.