Parashat Eikev

August 19, 2022Lori Motis

In the last several weeks, there has been a lot of attention on the Supreme Court decision that overturned the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. This is understandable as this is an important issue concerning the rights of women. However, there has not been as much attention paid to the Supreme Court decision of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This ruling undermines the authority of the EPA under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The decision is a setback to reducing the carbon pollution that is affecting climate change and may spell a delay for U.S. climate action when time is of the essence.

In addition, some have already trumpeted the majority opinion as grounds for challenging proposed climate rules from the Department of Transportation and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as an existing Nuclear Regulatory Commission rule. The recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done. Considering this, we should be concerned about the likelihood of passing on a clean earth to subsequent generations.

In this week's parashah, the Israelites are preparing to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. Moses tells them about the goodness of the land, describing the abundance of sources of clean water, as well as the bounty of the grains and fruits that grow there. They are also told of the rich mineral deposits to be found in their new land. One might expect there to be instruction in these verses to respect and care for the gifts being offered to the Israelites. However, Moses only stipulates that God expects their obedience for these blessings to continue.

There are plenty of other examples in our texts where the directive to care for the earth can be found. In Genesis, Adam and Eve are told it is their responsibility to "work and keep" the Garden (Genesis 2:15). In Ecclesiastes Rabbah, we are told to, "Observe how beautiful is the work of my creation. Take care not to destroy it, for no one will repair it after you" (Ecclesiastes, Rabbah 7:13). 

Since 1913, WRJ has led the Reform Movement in social action advocacy, with our Resolutions preceding policy in many areas. Women of Reform Judaism, formerly the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, has long demonstrated its concern about the effects of the environment on people and nations, having adopted resolutions previously on environmental pollution (1969, 1983, 1992), energy conservation (1973, 1977, 1979), children's health and the environment (2001, 2003), and on global warming (2007). Please visit the website to read about all the Resolutions and Statements covering a myriad of topics.

 As women, we are often cast in the role of caretakers. As WRJ women, we can cast ourselves in the role of caretakers of the earth.

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