Earth Etude for Elul 18
Awareness of Holiness: Re-enchantment with the World and Restitution
by Renee Shapiro~
A few years ago I did a short, pithy d’var Torah with my photos based on a couple of lines from a portion I was learning. The lines are Exodus/Shemot 3:4-5.
4.When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see, God called out to him out of the midst of the bush, He said Moshe! Moshe! He said, here I am.
5. He said: Do not come near to here, put off your sandal from your foot—for the place on which you stand—it is holy ground (Everett Fox translation)
It strikes me that the important thing was not that a bush was burning without being consumed, but that Moshe turned aside to really notice and be awed by a phenomenon of nature. Because of this God called out to Moshe, or perhaps because Moshe was in the proper frame of mind, he could hear a call which is perennially present. So, too, when we’re in touch with amazement of our world, we’re in touch with the Divine, and we potentially view all as Holy. The rush of our modern life has lead to disenchantment with the world, alienation, and feeling cut off from a sense of holiness. The consequences of our “idol worship” of more, bigger, and faster, has been pollution, species loss, climate chaos, and moral numbing to these disasters. T’shuvah would entail waking up to reality by noticing the details, acknowledging that all is Holy, appreciating with blessing and doing acts of restitution to the entire living world by working to alter the toxic aspects of our lifestyle.
Renée Shapiro is a biochemist who has worked in basic research, medical diagnostics, and biotechnology. When not in the lab, she volunteered with such organizations as Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) and The Women’s Community Cancer Project (WCCP) where she authored and edited fact sheets, articles, contributions to the newsletter, and booklets about the environmental effects on cancer. During that time, she also served for several years on the board of the Toxics Action Center as a representative of WCCP. Currently, her activism finds expression as the co-leader of the Tikkun Olam Group of B’nai Or and the newly formed Climate Action and Environmental Justice Team within the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Justice (JALSA).