Poisoning Torah or Healing Earth?

Dear chevra,

Much of this letter to you is celebratory and joyful. That may surprise you, since tomorrow (Monday) night, we begin the mournful Fast of Tisha B’Av, which comes this year  in the midst of a war between Israel and Palestine, with deep devastation and death in Gaza, deep fear and dislocation in Israel
.

I believe that the ways both governments are carrying on this war undermine the very moral and ethical foundations on which each claims to stand. I believe that the actions of the Government of Israel bring with them the danger of poisoning the blood stream of Torah.

Yet in Torah there is a deep and joyful wisdom for healing our wounded Mother Earth. To have that wisdom poisoned would be a deep disaster for the Jewish people and for all the life-forms of our planet, including our human communities.

The best antidote to poison is learning to heal. The “prophetic voice” both challenges what is deadly and seeks to birth new life. The joy in this letter is about learning to give bi
rth.

Long before this war erupted,  Nili Simhai and I planned to co-lead a  workshop from August 11 to August 15 —  “The Prophetic Voice: Healing the Earth as a Jewish Spiritual Practice”  — at Elat Chayyim/ Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT.

We would be delighted to have you join us in that delightful nook of nature — amidst the Earth we need to nurture.

For further information, please click here:   <http://hazon.org/calendar/living-lab-prophetic-voice/>

On the registration website you will find listed the charges for taking part. Elat Chayyim is, however,  committed to providing access to everybody for this retreat and if financial concerns stand in the way of your joining in the retreat, please email adam.sher@hazon.org so that Adam can work out a solution.

Why are we doing this? The Earth and Humankind, facing the climate crisis, need our action to heal and nourish us. And the will to action is growing.

Will our actions be haphazard and confused? Or can we learn to act with spiritual focus, wise choices, and practical effectiveness?

This summer presents a unique opportunity for the kind of whole-person learning that leads to action that is wise and vigorous, compassionate and committed — - and practical in making change happen.

 Nili is extraordinarily skilled in shaping experiential education  — hands-on, legs-on. She was for many years director of the Teva Learning Alliance, which has intertwined Torah learning with earthy touching of our growing planet.

 I will be bringing a lifetime of experience in awakening my self and others’ selves to the richer spiritual resources of a Torah that we transform, so as to heal and transform the world around us. And I bring ten years of learning, writing, speaking, organizing on Climate issues.

And together we will be bringing years of work to unite the scientific knowledge of today with the spiritual wisdom of ancient Torah, shaped by an indigenous people of shepherds and farmers.  For example, understanding the Divine NameYHWH” as “YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh,” the Breathing that intertwines all life.

And connecting that spiritual insight with the scientific knowledge that the Oxygen-CO2 in-breath/ out-breath of trees and animals — the breathing that keeps our Earth alive —  is now in danger.

Prayer is our response to reality in the world of spirit. We will explore as well how to teach in new ways, how to make new kinds of relationships and connections, how to take action: for example, how to Move Our Money to Protect Our Planet. How to apply the practice of “eco-kosher” not only to food but to furnaces, automobiles, trees. How to talk with a City Councilperson or a labor union or a synagogue board.

These letters are for many people inspiring and informative. But face-to-face learning is far better.

So we look forward to learning face-to-face with you.

To register for learning with us, please click here:   
<http://hazon.org/calendar/living-lab-prophetic-voice/>

 Our course is aimed at helping would-be activists learn how to draw on Jewish symbols, festivals, and practices so as to bring a fuller, deeper energy into Jewish-community action to heal the Earth.

 Nili and I hope that participants in this workshop will bond into an effective network of Jewish eco-spiritual activists who know what they are talking about — and how to talk about it.

 The Earth and human Earthlings are wounded, scorched and overheated, by our overburning of the fossil fuels that choke the Breath of Life.

 We need the kind of healing that looks beyond the wound, the choking —  to birth a more fruitful Beloved Community.

 To become such healers, we need to learn as do all healers — physicians, social workers, spiritual guides. We need the kind of Learning that intertwines Mind and Spirit, Heart and Body to make possible prophetic action for the healing of our planet.

The graphic below brings the Ram’s Horn of the ancient shepherds,  brings Torah, back from the narrow pews of synagogues to the fruitful fields and rushing rivers. At Isabella Freedman, the beauty of one small sliver of Earth calls us to celebrate the whole round ball of life.  The medium and the message, the means and the ends, cohere.

The Shofar calls out, “Sleepers, Awake!” —  Awake to danger, Awake to hope, Awake
to Healing.  

“Awake to heal YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, the Breath of Life, as It takes physical form in our world-wide breath, Earth’s atmosphere!”

Clear action, effective action, action deeply rooted in our knowledge and our spirit, requires learning.

 Bring your own face to meet Nili’s face, my face, and other faces filled with passion for our planet, and for learning.   Learn in the midst of joy!

To learn with us,  please click here:  < http://hazon.org/calendar/living-lab-prophetic-voice/>

Shalom, salaam, peace —  Arthur

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