Friday, August 16, 2019

Tu B'Av and Love

by Rabbi Katy Allen

As the afternoon wanes and Shabbat approaches, the less-than-familiar-for-most-of-us holiday of TuB'Av, the 15th of the month of Av, also nears it's end.
There were no days of joy in Israel greater than the fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur. On these days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in borrowed white garments in order not to shame any one who had none...The daughters of Jerusalem come out and dance in the vineyards. What would they say? Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty but set your eyes on the family.  --Mishnah Ta'anit 4:8
For centuries, this holiday was marked only by the absence of penitential prayers during the morning service. But it modern-day Israel, it is becoming a holiday of LOVE. A little like Valentine's Day here.

As a species, what love is more fundamental to our physical and spiritual well-being than our love of the Earth?

We need the Earth. Our very existence is dependent upon it being a reliable source of food, air, water, and shelter. But if we only take, as with the human loved ones in our lives, the relationship is doomed to failure.

And so, on this day of love, let us remember to give.

When we prepare to make a purchase, let us ask, Is this action good for Earth and it's inhabitants?  If the answer is "yes," then go for it. If the answer is "no," let us consider an alternative action.

When we prepare to vote, locally and on up, let us ask, Is this vote good for the Earth and it's inhabitants?  If the answer is "yes," then go for it. If the answer is "no," let us consider an alternative vote.

When we prepare to travel, let us ask, Is this trip good for the Earth and it's inhabitants?  If the answer is "yes," then go for it. If the answer is "no," let us consider how to repair our action.

When we prepare to do anything, from morning until evening, let us ask, Is this action good for Earth and it's inhabitants?  If the answer is "yes," then go for it. If the answer is "no," let us consider an alternative action.

Let us bring this question into our lives as though it were a blessing, as though it were a prayer, and let us answer it with all honesty. Let us bring love for the Earth into every action we take. It deserves it.

Tu B'Av sameach! Happy 15th of Av.


Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Jewish Climate Action Network-MA. She is a board certified chaplain and a former hospital and hospice chaplain and now considers herself an eco-chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the singing at Ma'yan Tikvah. 

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