Speaking up for the earth


We read in the Torah this week about tzara’at, an affliction that can affect not only people but also objects that come from the natural world. The idea that both humans and nature are tied together, susceptible to the same afflictions and benefiting together from the same blessings that God showers on the world, is a constant theme in the Torah. In Genesis, humanity is created last to emphasize that we must fit into the pattern of creation, to tend and care for it, if we are to thrive on the earth. Sadly, human pride and selfishness have too often led us to ignore the effects that our actions have on nature, and we now find ourselves in peril through climate change because of our lack of attention to how we are overturning the ecological balance that allows humanity to survive. The severity of what we face is urgent and new, but the mandate of Jewish tradition that calls us to raise our voices in defense of the earth that has no voice is ancient. May we do what we can to take on this very difficult task so that all of God’s creation can thrive together.