Friday, October 28, 2022

Spiritual Effect on Climate Change

Mathew. Irma. Florence. Michael. Ian. These sound like an innocent group of friends that might have gone into a bar for a drink. Those of us living in Florida recognize these names as menacing deadly storms that have torn through our region causing much loss of life and staggering property damage that has cost several hundred billion dollars in the last few years. I noted before Yom Kippur that Mathew, Florence and Ian unleashed its wrath during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Michael made landfall during this week, the Parsha of Noach in 2018. It is with sad irony that we read about the flood that destroyed the entire civilization as Hurricane Michael was destroying parts of our state. It would be a mistake just to dismiss this as a random coincidence. Obviously, there are factors from the perspective of science about the uptick in these devastating storms. This space is not the area to address that aspect of the conversation. From a spiritual perspective, I would like to share an insight from Maimonides. He writes that when tragic and unnatural events occur that cause misfortune in this world, it should give us pause and encourage us to reflect on the situation. Nothing happens in a vacuum and this should behoove us for some soul-searching.  In this week's Parsha of Noach, G-d communicates that because of the wayward actions of Man, there will be a flood to destroy civilization. Following the flood, G-d made an eternal covenant with Man that He would never destroy the entire world because of Man’s actions. G-d showed Noach a rainbow and made the covenant with him that the world's seasons would not be interrupted. Our Rabbis have pointed out that the covenant does not guarantee that a particular region will not suffer the same fate because of Man’s action. In that sense, I believe what we have been witnessing should cause us to think about what we can do to bring positive change both in our relationship with G-d and with our fellow Man. One of the primary lessons of Noah and the flood is that there is a symbiotic relationship between the actions of Man and the state and existence of this planet. It is not just a question of carbon emissions and warming the planet. That is a conversation for a different forum. (A Rabbi once opined if every member of the planet would not use an automobile or plane one day a week, the planet would have much fewer carbon emissions). Parshas Noach teaches us the real-time effect our moral choices and errors can have on our planet and civilization. The question we should ask ourselves is, what positive actions are we going to engage in that can improve that symbiotic relationship? Have a peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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