Message from the Rabbi for Shabbat, Earth Day and Yom Hashoah 2020
Hello fellow inhabitants of spaceship Earth:
This week we commemorate two days of solemnity and foreboding, but also of hope that can stir us from lethargy and despair as we are confined in our homes.
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day 2020 is a stark reminder that good intentions expressed half a century ago have failed to awaken us to the outrageous and blasphemous assaults we are committing against our only home, our sacred mother Earth, from whom we have become estranged. In violation of the most important moral imperatives of the Jewish faith, which celebrates creation every week on Shabbat and a plethora of holidays throughout the year giving thanks for nature, we have stood silently by the destruction of our precious planet, making a mockery of our protestations of love for a Creator or a creative process, however we conceive it, which render our prayers meaningless and perverse logorrhea.
Our callous indifference to non-human life evidenced in concentration camps of misery euphemistically called “factory farms” or “meat packing plants”, like China’s “wet markets” with mechanized suffering and bottomless misery for sentient beings, has come back to haunt us with plague, the latest and most devastating of which is the coronavirus, caused by our animal abuse. Not surprisingly, these warehouses of cruelty, are among the latest epicenters of coronavirus death and destruction.
We also commemorate Yom Hashoah, which represents the lowest depths that humans can descend towards other humans, when people blindly obey authority, which as Einstein said, is the greatest enemy of the truth. He knew this from personal experience as his home was ransacked by the Nazis and this creative Jewish genius barely escaped with his life from brainwashed barbarians who targeted Jews and all free thinkers.
However, Earth Day and Yom Hashoah can also rekindle the Jewish indomitable spirit and faith in human goodness that lies in the n’shamah of every Jew and provides us with hope. We Jews, like humanity itself, have a strong survival instinct. Humans have proved quite resourceful in the struggle for survival when we put our minds together for a noble cause. During World War II, nations of the world, working together, perfected radar, the computer and the unleashing of atomic power in response to a threat to our survival.
Unlike the Nazis, the coronavirus, the plagues of intolerance, arrogance, indolence and indifference, and carbon in our atmosphere are invisible threats and thus easily denied by those who emulate the ostrich rather than a human. However, Jewish history and the story of Hanukkah show that those who recognize the threat, working together, can rally their fellows to successfully defeat even the most powerful foe.
Today, the foe wages war on truth and Jewish ideals. We must respond with reality to combat lies, and with a political quarantine for climate deniers if we want a fighting chance to save our planet and restore its natural beauty. Then humans could be a blessing rather than a curse as we learn to live in harmony with, rather than wage war against Earth. Like homo sapiens in general, we Jews are most resourceful, with a survival instinct that has allowed us to thrive and regain our homeland and our ancestral language, long after mighty empires who sought to destroy us have vanished from the world stage. These bygone nations remain only in history books or the ruins and vestiges of once great empires.
Holocaust remembrance day in Hebrew is Yom HaShoah v’ Ha-G’vrurah, which means Day of the Holocaust (complete destruction by fire) and of Heroism. The date was chosen to commemorate the incredible valor of Jews, mostly youth, who fought back against the Nazis with little food, arms or outside support and held out longer than Poland against seemingly insurmountable odds. Contrary to what historians may record, the Warsaw Ghetto fighters were victorious, as they fought back and killed many of their enemy and experienced the triumph of the human spirit against evil. Their courage and inspiration lives on in the hearts and minds of Jews and all those who cherish life, love and freedom. By contrast, the Nazis and their hideous ideology have been defeated and their cult of death discredited, though sadly, not completely eradicated from today’s world.
Today, we face the holocaust not of one or even many people, but of our entire planet, as our sacred forests, the source of life-giving oxygen and the means for reducing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere literally goes up in smoke, along with our children’s future, as forests burn in the Amazon, Australia, Russia, California and across the globe, killing trillions of animals, while so-called leaders blindly ignore it all with a hardened heart that would make even Pharaoh blush.
It is not too late to save ourselves and our progeny. The courage of the Jewish ghetto fighters who gave their all against overwhelming evil inspires us to go on, and makes us feel ashamed whenever we think we cannot muster the courage to fight back or speak up. In the year 2020, a metaphor for perfect vision of what lies ahead, as humanity begins this third millennium, and suffers a plague brought about by our abusing our fellow creatures, let us learn the lessons of Earth Day and Yom Hashoah to heed the warning signs of living out of harmony with the Earth and of failing to oppose tyrannical rule, by working together with others in a global effort to take action to protect the future of us all.
These solemn days occur during pandemic illness, which is exacerbated by a clueless President, sycophants in Congress who pretend to be leaders and allies in the media who masquerade as journalists. Led by a professional con artist, they deny truth, reject science, treat reality like a show, and wage war against the Earth. But Mother Nature cannot be fooled, bullied or intimidated. Let us resist truth deniers and instead head the clarion signs of nature as explained by our modern prophets, the scientists and let us all join the fight for our future.
At this critical time in human history, we remember the stirring words of holocaust survivor and the conscience of mankind, Elie Wiesel who said, “There are times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” May the inspiration of the heroes of the holocaust and the courage of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters inspire us to take decisive action to save our planet and its human and non-human inhabitants from our species.
I invite you to share our Shabbat celebrations, Earth Day observance, Holocaust commemoration, Jewish Journal articles and other sources of uplift from our Jewish heritage to experience the joy of working with others to take part in the historic Jewish mission to improve this world. May this spirit of Tikkun Olam lead us to create a future dreamed of by our prophets that is joyous with justice, brimming with brotherhood and shimmering with shalom.
With peace and love,
Rabbi Barry Silver