“and the Lord took Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and guard it. (Genesis 2:15) Upon creating the first human beings, God guided them around the Garden of Eden, saying; ‘Look at my creations! See how beautiful and perfect they are! I created everything for you. Make sure you don’t ruin or destroy My world. If you do, there will be no one after you to fix it ’ (Midrash Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) Rabbah 7:20)
Each morning we are bid to recite the following prayer which beckons us to imagine the world is being re-created every day, a new Genesis:
“Praised are You, Our God, Ruler of the universe, former of light, creator of darkness, maker of peace and the creator of all things. In Your mercy light shines over the earth and upon all who inhabit it. Through your goodness the work of the creation is daily renewed. How great are Your works, O God, in wisdom You have made all of them. The earth is filled with your creations.” (Daily Prayer, Yotzer Or (Former of Light))
The late John McCain in his presidential bid strongly argued for conservation saying that even if you don’t believe in climate change it is still important to protect our resources. That attitude even precedes Teddy Roosevelt who labored to protect our nation’s parks and their resources. I personally understand that climate change is real; from forest fires in Australia to weather weirding across the globe marked by iceberg melt and drought. Our heritage has long encouraged respect for nature and an attitude of modesty about our place in creation:
Why were human beings created last in the order of Creation? So that they should not grow proud – for one can say to them, ‘Even the gnat came before you in creation!’ (Tosefta Sanhedrin 8:3)
Sometimes the problems of this world seem insurmountable. Our concept based on mysticism Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) beckons us to do our part, however small in resurrected Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden. My rabbi versed in Yiddish would encourage me when I got frustrated with my Hebrew by saying Yidl by Yidl. Rabbi Israel Salanter (1810-1883, founder of
Lithuania’s Musar Movement) offered this perspective: “First, a person should put his house
together, then his town, then the world.”
I chair the subcommittee for the Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance called Spartanburg Green Congregations. At long last our temple is practicing what it preached. Our recycling bin is being used. (Thanks in no small measure to Susan Abelkop who made them happen!) Throughout our building are little blue recycling containers. Please use them! Plastic, paper, aluminum oh my! (Alas no glass!) The large bin is presently in the portico. Feel free to bring your own disposables when you come to Temple.
It is fairly large. I would hope it will become insufficiently small as you will fill it up, (a nice problem to have or what I call a Messianic problem!) We have taken other steps in the past (Energy saving LED bulbs in the sanctuary–thank you Rex!)
In the meantime as Purim nears, and spring is on the way I wish one and all a happy March as we march on fulfilling the imperatives of our precious faith.
Rabbi Yossi J. Liebowitz D.D.