Eco Rabbi: Parshat Vayigash – Standing Up for What You Believe In

eco rabbi planet defense jackEvery week, it is the custom of religious Jews to read their holy book, the Torah, and relate it to the world around them. This week our resident Eco Rabbi, Jack, talks about sticking up for our planet.

At the end of last week’s segment, Joseph still had not revealed his true identity to his brothers and he decided to incarcerate Benjamin, the favorite brother of their father. When Judah hears this, he knows that it would kill their father, and he stands up to Joseph, the second in command to Pharaoh.

I identify with Judah. He took upon himself the responsibility to watch over his younger brother, Benjamin. When everything seemed to be going wrong, and Pharaoh’s right hand man was going to detain Benjamin in jail, Judah had to stand up for him.

The Midrash Kohelet Rabbah (7:19) states: “At the time that the Holy One of Blessing created Adam, God showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: See my works! How beautiful and praiseworthy they are? And everything that I created, I created for you. Take care that you should not destroy my world, for if you spoil it there is no one to repair it after you.”

Our planet is our little brother. Judah understood that they needed to bring Benjamin to Egypt in order to get food for the family. But he also knew that Yosef was trying to detain him unjustly, when they discovered the goblet in Benjamin’s bag. He stood up for his brother and offered himself instead.

We were given something precious to safeguard as well and we cannot let it be unjustly destroyed. Stand up, like Judah did, when you see people wasting. There are many community projects that you can run for raising awareness of what the issues are that we are dealing with. Be a leader like our great great grandfather Judah and take the initiative to organize such events.

When Judah did stand up for his little brother, the results he got far surpassed what he had imagined. He discovered his long-lost brother. Remember the words of the midrash (interpretation) and let us take care of our world as Judah did Benjamin:

“Take care that you should not destroy my world, for if you spoil it there is no one to repair it after you.”

When we all work together the results will far surpass our greatest expectations.

Image Credit: SamJuk

About Jack Reichert

As far back as he can remember Jack Reichert has been interested in the environment. In the second grade, he rallied all of his classmates to donate one recess a week to cleaning up litter from the schoolyard. That was the same year that a city councilman asked him to help with his campaign because of the letter Jack had written asking him to clean up Boston Harbor. Ever since Jack has followed the development of the international green conscience with anticipation and hope that one day we will treat Mother Earth with the respect she deserves and not turn her into another Giving Tree. For tips, feedback and prophet sightings, Jack can be reached at jack (at) greenprophet (dot) com.

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