On Yom Kippur, Jewish Texts Speak to the Pope’s Letter

daniel headshotRabbi Daniel Swartz asked the crowd to close their eyes and imagine the first thing that comes to mind at the word “environment.”

“How many of you had people in that image?” he asked as their eyes opened. Most people shook their heads.

“We separate ourselves from the environment,” Rabbi Swartz said. “If you understand the environment is where we live … then it becomes a little more important.”

On Wednesday, the spiritual leader of Scranton’s Temple Hesed led a discussion that matched segments of “Laudato si’,” Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, with texts from the Torah and Jewish thinkers from ancient to modern times.

Environmental mandates in the Torah range all the way back to the Jewish prophets, with versus like Isaiah 5:8, reading “Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, til there is room for none.”

From the Leviticus Rabbah, he quoted a metaphorical story of sitting in a ship, while one man drills a hole into the hull beneath him. When his companions asked what he was doing, the man replied, “I am only boring a hole under my part of the ship.”

Rabbi Swartz also referenced “Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis,” signed by [over 400] continue reading

The Scranton Times-Tribune published the above 9/24/2015. Article by Brendan Gibbons.  An additional article preceded the event  published 9/15/2015 by Sarah Scinto 

Additional resource: Rabbi David Seidenburg of NeoHasid.org has shared a Hebrew translation of the ecumenical prayer by Pope Francis found at the end of the encyclical, and reprinted in Rabbi Daniel Swartz’ study.  Read and download the translation with notes.