When the Holy Blessed One created the first human beings, God took them and showed them all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to them, “See My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are! And everything that I created, I created it for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it.” (Midrash Kohelet Raba 7:19)
As this story from the ancient rabbis teaches us, the responsibility to care for the earth that sustains us and gives us life falls directly on each human being. It is not something that can be shrugged off, outsourced to someone else, or passed on to a committee or group. Each of us is individually responsible for protecting the earth and preserving it for future generations. In that context, the president’s decision to withdraw from the always voluntary Paris Climate Accords, while disappointing, is not an end or a defeat but a wake-up call. Driven by the teachings of Torah, we must raise our voices even louder – joining with the voices of people around the world and with the majority of Americans – to demand that the policies that are already starting to drag us back from the brink of destruction are continued and strengthened. If we do, we may still be able to bequeath a thriving world to the next generation. If we do not, there may truly be nobody after us who can repair what we failed to protect.