- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On September 20, 2019
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
Saying sorry does not mean that the apology is accepted. What matters is awareness and recognition of the mistake, and a willingness to correct it and to make it right.
Today many gathered around City Hall for a climate strike to demand action on the climate crisis as the United Nations prepares for the Global Climate Action Summit next week.
We all share the environmental crises upon us. Many work tirelessly to slow the steady infractions against the earth. Others highlight those who exacerbate these violations. We are in a constant state of being reminded that we are not only descendants of those who came before us, but also ancestors to those who will come after us. What kind of environment do we want them to inherit?
Our ancestors, particularly the ones who lived in the Biblical era, had an intimate relationship with the land. They considered the land as they prepared to enter it and they set in motion liturgical phrases to ensure that the memory of the connection to the earth remained as part of our consciousness.
The liturgical recitation from this week’s Torah portion sounds familiar because we recite it as part of the Seder:
I acknowledge this day before the Eternal your God that I have entered the land that The Eternal swore to our fathers to assign us. (Deuteronomy 26:3)
Up to this point, the Israelites wandered on the land but did not settle in it or view themselves as attached to it. As we know from the Seder story, the next part recounts the experience of redemption. As Rabbi Dalia Marx notes, “The entire recapitulation of national history comes to a calculated climax in the moment when the farmer comes bearing the first fruits of the land bestowed upon him.”
Wherefore I now bring the first fruits of the soil which You, Eternal, have given me. (26:10)
The wandering people have landed and their future is bound to the land. To bring the first fruits as an offering inextricably tied them to the bounty of the earth. Their very existence depended on it, not just for them, but also for the generations to come.
They didn’t know from hurricanes, holes in the ozone layer, or islands of trash in the ocean. But they did know in the way the rain fell, or the drought consumed that the climate affected what the earth could produce. When those first fruits arrived, they recognized their sacred and precious presence and did what they knew to be the right behavior: they offered it to God.
Many traditions, including those of the Israelites, could acknowledge a simple fact: the earth and all its fullness belongs to the Divine. We are merely stewards while we grace this earth.
Somehow because of the climate crisis swirling around us, and the need for much more environmental justice, it feels like the earth and sky seek not just an apology from its stewards (us!). It also seeks awareness and recognition of the mistakes, and then a willingness to correct it and to make it right.
So may it be.
We welcome to Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. Rabbi Debra Robbins who grew up at Temple Israel and who will share the rich treasures from her book, Opening Your Heart with Psalm 27:A Spiritual Practice for the Jewish New Year. Live stream HERE.
We will study Torah tomorrow morning and dedicate our study to devoted Torah study participant, Gabe Padawer, whose memory is a blessing. We begin with a short service at 9:00 a.m. followed by a lively discussion.
Have you ever experienced the atrium lit by candles? Begin your High Holidays with S’lichot, first with a garden gathering to discuss our Congregational Read, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, followed by the candlelit S’lichot service experience to prepare to enter the High Holy Days.
How connected are we to the land? Connect with me HERE.