In B’reishit, this week’s Torah portion (parashah), we read the epitomic Jewish environmental verses: “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till and tend it” (Genesis 2:15). For both Jewish and Christian communities, this line is the basis of our obligation as stewards of the environment.
In the story of creation, God gives to the first human beings “every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth” along with “everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is the breath of life” (Genesis 1:29-30). The human being’s task then, is to take care of what God has already given, what existed there before people inhabited the earth.
This parashah speaks to me for what it says about human accountability for our impact on the world around us. At its core, Jewish theology teaches us that there’s something greater than our immediate needs. In the same way that Adam and Eve are told to “till and tend” the Garden of Eden, we have a covenantal obligation to tend to the world we have been given, to hold ourselves and those who represent us responsible for the long-term welfare of our earth, for our families and communities and those less fortunate than our own.
If we hope to live in a world with sea levels low enough and temperatures cool enough to produce food for the global population, we must take it upon ourselves to till and tend as we can. Do your part by GreenFaith Energy Shield Certification to ensure that we minimize our community’s carbon footprint. Today we must act, in covenant and partnership, and raise our voices to help stem climate disaster. If you’re interested in doing more take my Tishrei Green Challenge and stop using plastic bags, or tell the Environmental Protection Agency that you support carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.