Talmudic Midrash: Megillah 10b The ministering angels wanted to chant their hymns of praise and rejoice
when Israel finished crossing the sea, but the Holy One said “The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and shall you chant hymns?
Question: To save Israel, God split the sea and then allowed it to crash down again drowning the Pharaoh and his
troops. Why would God be sad? If God could foresee that buried plant and animal remains could turn into fossil fuels, be mined and drilled and heat the planet, why didn’t God prevent it? Can our use
of fossil fuels make God pleased and regretful at the same time?
Climate Change: the oceans protect us We can be grateful that the oceans have protected us by absorbing much of the carbon
dioxide we emitted. However, the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 is going to decrease as the waters warm, leading to faster increases in atmospheric CO2 and faster warming, and an acceleration in
sea level rise. Do you know which areas of the US will be affected by rising seas?
Check this map of US cities that will be sorely affected by
Question: If you live inland, do humility and loyalty keep you from rejoicing that rising sea levels won’t hurt
Action: Most people read newspapers and blogs that agree with their general outlook. However, it is an act of humility to
read a publication with an outlook different from yours, and consider how its viewpoint might be justifiable. Whatever type of newspaper you usually read (liberal, conservative, local, or big city),
read a different type. Try to get into the mindset of that new paper, its editor and readers. Write a letter to the editor about climate change every day until you are published.
Day Four: Netzach b’Chesed
Netzach: endurance and decisiveness
Midrash: Mekhilta de Rabbi Yishmael
(translation by David Stern, JPS publication, 1993, pp 155-156)
When the Israelites stood at the sea, one said: “I do not want to go down to the sea first,” and the other also said: “I do not want to go down to the sea first,” as it is said (Hosea 12:1): “Ephraim
compasseth Me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit.” While they were standing there deliberating, Nahshon ben Amminadab jumped up first and went down to the sea and fell into
the waves. Of him (Nahshon) it is said: “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in even unto the soul (neck); I am sunk in deep mire and where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, and
the flood overwhelmth me.” (Psalm 69:2-3)
Question: What makes Nahshon a leader in this story? How does the midrash teach he was willing to take risks? Why do you think he was able to act decisively? What enabled him to endure until
the waters receded and Israel could pass through?
Climate Change: long term CO2 impacts
The carbon dioxide we emit today endures in the atmosphere between 50 to 200 years, and thus contributes to global warming for a long time, even after we stop emitting. Other atmospheric greenhouse
gases last a shorter time but are more powerful at warming the planet. However, climate change action focuses on carbon dioxide because the sheer volume of CO2 emitted is enormous compared to the volume of other gases emitted.
What does the long endurance of CO2 in the atmosphere have to do with
CO2stays in the atmosphere until it is absorbed by the oceans or used by trees as they grow. The amount of
CO2 that is “sunk” in tree growth is only temporary (until the tree decays
or is burned). The CO2 absorbed by the ocean fills the upper layers of the
ocean but it takes a long time for it to be permanently “sunk” in ocean beds.
Because of the long lasting nature of CO2 emissions, they will cause more
warming than we see now, working like delayed action capsules. Some projections estimate that by 2050 atmospheric CO2 will reach 600 ppm and by 2100 it
will hit 950 ppm, even though scientists warn that 350 ppm is probably the safest upper limit for atmospheric CO2.
Action: Senator Whitehouse has made weekly speeches on climate change for a year. Listen to his 1/7/14 speech dealing with harm to the Oceans,
and also watch his fiftieth weekly speech marking one year of making speeches on climate change from the floor of the Senate. Send Senator Whitehouse a thank you note for his decisive and enduring actions to save the world. Send a copy to your Senators asking them to work with him to make
decisive climate action happen.
Day Three: Tiferet b’Chesed
by Rabbi Judy Weiss
Tiferet: compassion, beauty, and balance to achieve loyalty
According to early interpreters of the Bible, the splitting of the Red Sea involved more than one miracle.
Midrash: Legends of the Jews 3:22
"The dividing of the sea was but the first of ten miracles connected with the passage of the Israelites through it. The others were that the waters united in a
vault above their heads; twelve paths opened up, one for each of the tribes; the water became as transparent as glass, and each tribe could see the others; the soil underfoot was dry, but it changed
to clay when the Egyptians stepped upon it … Through the brackish water flowed a stream of soft water, at which the Israelites could slake their thirst . .. The sea yielded the Israelites
whatever their hearts desired. If a child cried as it lay in the arms of its mother, she needed but to stretch out her hand and pluck an apple or some other fruit and quiet it."
Question: How did midrashic interpreters imagine God ensured that Israel had plenty of strength to cross over? What things did God do to make
the trip beautiful? or aethestically pleasing? or to show compassion?
Climate Change: protection from the Oceans
Today, oceans not only provide us with food, but they also protect us. As the planet warms due to greenhouse gases, the oceans absorbed about 93% of the heat.
The steady rise in sea level reflects the on-going warming of the planet. If someone tells you that global warming stopped 15 years ago, or says there has been a hiatus in warming, tell them they
misunderstand. Just because air temperatures over land don’t follow a consistently increasing path does not mean global temperatures aren’t still increasing. Most of the increase is seen in ocean
temperatures. In effect, the oceans have been working a miracle for us, protecting us from rapid warming over land.
Actions: In order to pass climate change legislation, Congress needs a balance of leadership concerned about climate from both Republicans
and Democrats. People in Red states have compassion for the environment and cherish the beauty of the planet too. In fact a recent survey indicates they trust the
EPA to protect the environment more than they trust Congress.
Try calling or email friends and relatives who live in Red states. Talk to them about what you have learned. Answer their questions. Ask them to join a local
climate change group and schedule a meeting with their Members of Congress to discuss sea level rise.
Day Two: Gevurah b’Chesed
by Rabbi Judy Weiss
Gevurah: strength and courage in service of loyalty
Midrash: Genesis Rabbah 5:6
At the beginning of creating the world, God decreed ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together
into one place.’ Whatever God brought to pass, is so humans will fear God (Ecclesiastes 3:14). Compare this to a country that rebelled against its king. The king sent a strong army and encircled
them, so the inhabitants might see it and fear him. Why did God gather the waters of the sea together as a heap (Psalm 33:7)? In order that all the inhabitants of the world may stand in awe of God
Why do you think the midrash describes the creation of the waters in terms of fear? Is there anything scary about the oceans to you? How do you channel fear into productive behavior?
Modern day fearsomeness of the oceans
With global warming, sea levels are rising. Historically, the main reasons they have been rising is that
warming waters expand as they warm. The second reason they are rising is the melting of glaciers and ice sheets like those on Greenland and Antarctica. Over the last few years, the
contribution to sea level rise from t from the ice sheets has grown.
Watch this video: Projected Sea Level Rise
According to the recent IPCC report, sea level rise by 2100 could be approximately 3 feet. However, 2/3 of
the climate scientists who contributed to that report felt the estimate of 3 feet was too conservative. Some scientists warn that if the Greenland ice sheet melts, it will contribute approximately 21
feet (7 meters) to sea levels, and if Antarctica melts, it will contribute about 57 meters or 170 feet.
Watch a second video: Impacts of Sea Level Rise
Watch the film “Chasing Ice” with friends and family. Schedule a meeting with your U.S. Representative or Senator, and discuss your fears of 3 feet, 21 feet and 170 feet sea level rises.
Day One: Chesed b’Chesed
by Rabbi Judy Weiss
Chesed b'chesed: the purest form of loyalty The beginning of the Omer period is
marked by mourning customs, born from innate human anxiety about springtime grain production: will food production provide enough to sustain us or will weather aberrations ruin our
Midrash: Exodus Rabbah 21:6
When Israel stood at the edge of the Red Sea terrified by the approaching Egyptians, God commanded Moses to lift
up his rod and split the sea so Israel could cross. The sea refused. What did God do? Placed God’s right hand upon Moses’ right hand. When the sea saw God’s hand on Moses’ hand, it could delay no
longer, but fled … Thus Exodus 21:6 says: “and the waters were divided.”
Notice the verse does not say the water was divided, but the waters were divided. This teaches that all the waters
that were in all the fountains and wells, and every other place were divided.
Question: Regarding God’s hand on Moses, explain it as a sign of loyalty. If God was annoyed with
Moses in Exodus 14:15 when God said “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to go”, where did the annoyance go? What does the division of all the waters symbolize to
Climate Change: Modern Day Food Anxiety
Climate scientists raise food issues as a serious concern. One billion people today obtain their only protein from
the oceans. Much of our CO2 emissions land in the oceans causing them to become more acidic.
The change in acidity prevents some sea creatures from forming properly. For fish and other sea life, ocean acidification prevents their eggs from surviving, and diminishes their ability to sense predators.
Click this picture to watch the video, Increasing Ocean Acidification:
Question: Is God annoyed with us that we have sullied the planet? Are you annoyed?
Action: Transform annoyance over emissions and climate change into actions based on the purest
loyalty and love for the planet, oceans, and humanity. What reality-based (non-magical) action would you take if God’s hand were on yours? Since God isn’t visibly at your side, join a local group
working on climate change. Working with others will feel like God’s power.
Counting the Omer 5774
We are counting down the days to Passover, to our journey out of slavery and into
freedom. And then, on the second night of Passover, we will begin counting in a serious way, we will begin counting the Omer.
With the Counting of the Omer count seven weeks of seven days - 49 days - from
crossing into freedom to receiving the Torah, from redemption to revelation, from Passover to Shavuot, from the Sea of Reeds to the Mountain of Sinai, from the depths of despair to the heights
of joy, from physical enslavement to spiritual freedom, from the barley harvest offering to the wheat harvest offering, from the food of animals offering to the food of humans offering. We count 49
In Jewish mystical tradition, each of these seven weeks is equated to one of seven
Divine Attributes. During each week, we also travel through these seven attributes day by day. In this way, each day represents a combination of two attributes, and throughout the 49 days we
experience every possible combination of the attributes, 49 different combinations, so very many ways of considering the sacred, and our connection to it.
This year, seven of the writers of our Earth Etudes for Elul have each agreed to
write seven Omer reflections for Ma'yan Tikvah. We are grateful for the immense thought and effort that each of these writers has put into their work. As always, they have woven some aspect of the
natural world into their writings. And also, as always, you will see great variety from week to week - we begin with hard-hitting science, and then the week after switch to poetry. You will read
political views, thoughts on personal growth, ideas on how to get closer to the Earth and closer to G!d, as each of the writers expresses her or his innermost feelings and pulls you into her or his
personal world. I invite you to journey with us, and to see where our writers' reflections will lead us.
The first week of Omer reflections begin on Tuesday evening, April 15. They have
been written by Rabbi Judy Weiss, and in addition to the Divine Attribute of Chesed, which is the focus of the week, she also focuses on the oceans and climate change. Rabbi Judy Weiss lives in
Brookline, MA, with her husband Alan. She teaches Tanakh, and volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Passover is almost here. We are counting the days.
I wish you a joyous sense of leaving behind all that binds you and an entrance into
an expansive sense of freedom.
Rabbi Katy Z. Allen, Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
I listened in the night to the sounds of the raindrops outside, and as I realized how comforting the sound felt, I also realized how long it
had been since I had heard rain. The rivers are flooding, the ground is beginning to thaw, and I have seen the green shoots of bulbs poking their way above the ground. Spring is coming.
Spring is coming, and with it Passover. We have a special pre-Passover hike planned at Nobscot Boy Scout Reservation, together with Mosaic
Outdoor Club, and I invite you to join us for that.
This Shabbat we will have our regular outdoor service, but bring your picnic lunch and stay with us for an interfaith walk in the afternoon
that I will co-lead with Anna Mullen, a Harvard Divinity student doing an internship at Peace Lutheran Church. Please note that we will begin at 10:45 this week.
want to join me this Sunday at 2 PM at Temple Israel for the next Jewish food conference, which will focus on the Shmita, or Sabbatical year. There will be interesting learning and discussions, and
hands-on food making.
like to get trained to give talks in synagogues about climate change and ways to combat it? You can!
Wayland Park and Rec, Wayland Walks is offering a summer camp for kids going into grades 2-4 on Wayland conservation areas. Please pass the word along. We also are hoping to offer an interfaith
summer camp together with Open Spirit, but this isn't definite yet.
And in the
personal arena, Gabi and I want to share the news with you that we just got married!
Wishing you a meaningful and joyous Passover,
Rabbi Katy Z. Allen, Ma'yan Tikvah
Outdoor Shabbat Morning Service
Saturday April 26
Pine Brook Conservation Area
Meet at the cul de sac at the end of Forty Acres Drive, Wayland
We'll take a walk through the woods and by the water, with stops for prayer and song. Come prepared for the weather, and if you'd like, bring
a reading or a snack to share.
Introduction to Jewish Prayer
Upcoming Class Dates: To Be Announced
Class is ongoing, based on participants schedules, please RSVP for more dates. Newcomers
are always welcome.
Rabbi Katy & Gabi's House
Do you have questions about Jewish prayer? Why pray? What is the prayer service all about? What is the meaning of the prayers? What is the meaning of the words? Does
it matter if I pray in English or in Hebrew? This class addresses these and other questions about Jewish prayer. Each session is devoted to three topics:
prayerbook Hebrew, the structure of the prayer service and the meaning of the fixed prayers, and what prayer is, why we might want to pray, what to expect (or not) from prayer, and how to approach
prayer. We use Prayerbook Hebrew the Easy Way. A traditional siddur is helpful. Additional readings are provided. The ability to recognize Hebrew letters is needed to understand
everything, participants who want to learn to read Hebrew or to participate without doing the Hebrew are welcome.
Just as the seasons change, so does our website. We humbly request your patience during this time of transformation, and we hope that you will be pleased with the results.
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope provides a home for those seeking an alternative way of encountering Judaism through outdoor services,
intimate study opportunities, care of the environment, and tzedakah. We hold Shabbat services, holiday celebrations, classes, and High Holiday services in the woods.