Crowd Sourcing Topic for Sermon on August 7

Torah reading: Deut 10:12-14

What does the Pope’s encyclical mean for the Jewish community?


Text :

The morning wind forever blows,

the poem of creation is uninterrupted;

but few are the ears

that hear it.

by Henry David Thoreau, in Mishkan Hanefesh Rosh Hashanah prayerbook, p. 145

6 Responses to Crowd Sourcing Topic for Sermon on August 7

  1. docbzf says:

    The poem means that God not only created the world ,
    but also daily renews the wonders of creation .

    We are called the species Homo Sapiens Sapiens ( a human who is wise , and knows that he/she is wise ) . But we are decidedly not wise when we continue to pollute our Mother Planet , planet Earth .

    The Pope is generally considered to represent conservative
    opinions , but his Encyclical favors progressive beliefs … based on science .
    His opinion is ” good for the Jews ” because it is good for all of humanity , all living things , and good for our planet itself .

    Environmentalism is the ethical choice for Animal , Vegetable , and Mineral ,

    Yasher Koach , Pope Francis .

    • Rachel says:

      I really like Pope Francis, who seems to lead his believers from love, create a big tent, and sends a continuous message of non-judgement to all people. In the encyclical, he devotes the second chapter to his faithful specifically, though the entire document is directed to all good people. It strikes me that he is trying to have both the catholic and the Catholic through this rhetorical move. For what he addresses to Catholics specifically is not only universal, but also very similar to the message of Tikkun Olam (taken literally in this case) of our own faith. The Pope writes: “If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn “realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith”.[36] It is good for humanity and the world at large when we believers better recognize the ecological commitments which stem from our convictions.” I would rather interpret “we believers” here as all people who believe in the spirit that guides the universe in whatever form, rather than Catholics or Christians only, and certainly feel this sentiment close to our culture of Judaism which encourages the encountering of that spirit through Mitzvot as well as Tfilot.

      I also appreciate that the Pope connects problems of modernity within human society (isolation, loss of identity, gun violence, loss of community, global inequality) to the environmental problems he outlines. He reminds us that “we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.” An offense to the earth, which he calls our common home, is an offense to humanity and also an offense to God, or the spirit that unites humanity, all creatures, the natural world and the entire universe. To believe, as Jews, in that one-ness calls us to heal the earth in order to heal ourselves. Conversely, healing ourselves can help to heal the earth. This is why we start with prayer.

    • Lyn Linker says:

      Nice comment, Ben-Zion. I believe the Pope’s environmental beliefs come from his background-prior to becoming a priest he earned a college degree in chemistry and worked in the science field for several years. Even though that was many years ago-I believe the man is now in his 70’s-and much of what he learned about science is outdated, the basic fundamental facts remain the same.

  2. David Spear says:

    We only ‘know’ a rock, the sun, our body, through our senses. All these things we think we sense are interruptions in the interrupted poem of creation, and therefore illusion – what Hindu’s call maya. ‘Truth’ is the uninterrupted wind, not the interruptions we sense as reality.

  3. Dan Seltzer says:

    I enjoyed Rachel’s comment immensely. I haven’t read the Pope’s encyclical, but I’m familiar with it through general news reporting. I think one of the main reasons for the Pope’s appeal to so many people is that many of his messages are universal (catholic with a lower case “c”). This is true about the encyclical. One of the reasons I feel that RS is a spiritual home for me is that so many of our clergy’s messages are also universal (I hesitate to say catholic-with-a-lower-case-“c” for fear of being misinterpreted and banned from the synagogue! 😉 ). This universal approach is so “right” for RS because it is consistent with our openness to all who share similar values. The universal approach is at the core of who we are and strive to be.

  4. leftytowhead says:

    The Pope is walking the walk of his namesake – St. Francis of Assisi whom I’ve always admired as one of my favorite saints. St. Francis gave up a life of luxury, possibly one of a semi-sybarite, to find his relationship with the Divine. He had no need for clothes, money, or position but attempted to live in harmony with the natural world – not a very popular life-style then nor now. It’s a difference focus and one which ultimately is forward-looking much in the tradition of Honi and the carob tree midrash. It’s the touchstone of the belief in stewardship of the earth rather than dominion of the earth, bot of which are given to humankind in the torah, but we must use each of these concepts wisely. Unfortunately, those who claim super-dominionist powers are like the creations of Dr. Frankinstein.

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