Since first established in 1970, Earth Day has been a national reminder that we must take responsibility to protect the planet on which we live.
Judaism commands us to take initiative in maintaining the environment. From the very beginning, “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to till it and tend it" (Genesis 2:15). It is our duty to take care of the earth. Tikkun Olam, a pillar of Judaism, literally tells us to repair the world. We must act now to correct injustices done to our environment.
It is time for new leadership that can bring about necessary changes to transform America into the frontrunner in environmental sustainability. Today, President Bush set the record for the highest disapproval rating of any President in the 70-year history of the Gallup poll. The Democratic candidates are prepared with new energy policies. Senator Clinton’s Earth Day statement and Senator Obama’s Earth Day statement address making smart choices in government and in private that reflect our status as stewards of the earth.
The Talmud explains: While the sage, Choni, was walking along a road, he saw a man planting a carob tree. Choni asked him: “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?” “Seventy years," replied the man. Choni then asked: “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?" The man answered: “I found a fruitful world because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise, I am planting for my children.” Though we have barely begun to see the effects of global warming, it is a problem that future generations will inherit. By taking steps in our own lives to reduce carbon emissions, we can ensure a better world for our children.
For more on Judaism and protecting the environment, see the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.