Dvar Torah: Should or shouldn’t there be a carbon tax?

Rabbi Gila Caine is the rabbi at Temple Beth Ora, a reform congregation in Edmonton.

by Rabbi Gila Caine

(October 12, 2018) – Shabbat Noach, this Shabbat when we read the story of the Mabul (deluge), is being observed by many Jews in our generation as an Earth centered Shabbat. On this day, we pause and study, celebrate and take count of our actions as humans on Earth today. On this shabbat we are not looking for fantasy, wishful thinking, excuses, finger pointing or shoulder shrugging. Just looking outside of our window and into the snow and hurricanes, the spreading deserts and rising water levels. Will we make it to the Ark?

Sometimes I think that one lesson I learn from the story of Noach is that building an was the solution then, in a legendary time of second-chances. But we are today, and if we’ve learned anything from Torah it’s that we as humans are responsible for the well-being of the world, and that second chances don’t always arrive. The story of Noach and his family is the story of one family surviving, and of some animal surviving with them. But for the rest of creation that was the end, and the dying voices of creation being wiped out because of human behavior are the sounds we should hear screaming in our ears this week.

Shabbat Noach is time for each of us in our communities to take a good hard look around and ask ourselves how we’ve arrived at this point of living in galut from the world. Why and how are we humans so separated from Earth that we’ve forgotten she is our true home. And so, should or shouldn’t there be a Carbon Tax? When I read the story of Noach, and feel the pain of galut we are in, my immediate answer is yes. But in the long run – even that’s not the right answer. The answer should be that something and everything in our social, cultural, economic, religious behavior must change now, so that we don’t wipe – out all of creation, again. And so, I encourage all of us to take time this Shabbat and look at our own lives, in our homes and communities and think of ways in which we can reconnect to our purpose as guardians of the Earth. It will be worth it in the long run.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Gila Caine is Rabbi at the Temple Beth Ora, reform synagogue in Edmonton.

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