Friday, August 25, 2023

Earth Etude for Elul 9 - Living in a Fragile World: A Torah Godly Play Story

by Rabbi Michael Shire

I wonder if you have ever looked up at the night sky and wondered how big it is…how far it stretches… immense the universe is……? 

Or how there are thousands upon thousands of suns, stars, planets and moons, thousands of solar systems and galaxies? 

And I wonder how you feel when you look up into the vast space and how see how very big it is? 

I wonder what you feel when you realize that you are part of it…and also that it is part of you? 

And God saw all there was in the universe and said ‘It is good’ 

In that vast space there is one very small planet and it is our earth. When seen from space, earth looks like one great swirling mass of blue because a large part of it is made up of water. 

And God saw all the water and said ‘It is very good.’ 

As you get closer to earth, you see great masses of colorful lands. Some are so big they contain many countries. 

And God Said, ‘I will fill the land with every kind, creatures that fly in the air and creatures that swim in the waters and creatures that walk on the land. 

Then God said, ‘Let us make people in the image of God, male and female’. God rested and gave us the gift of rest. 

The angels asked, ’Is the world finished?’ And God said, ‘Go ask the people’. And God said to the people, ‘See my world, how beautiful it is. Do not do anything to hurt or destroy it because there will be no one to fix it after you.’ 

The people began to build cities with houses large and small. They cut down trees from the forests and filled up the open spaces. Some animals lost their homes and the lack of trees caused flooding in the land. 

The people made roads and train tracks so that they could travel by car and train and plane. But the fumes from the cities and the cars sent smoke into the air. It made a heavy blanket heating up the earth causing the icecaps to melt and the seas to rise. People had trouble breathing the air in the big cities. 

People threw trash and spilled oil into the seas and some creatures that swim in the waters couldn’t live there anymore. 

Now the water and the land, the green and growing things and the creatures in the air and seas and on the land and the people were in trouble.

And God looked at the world and said…. 

Wondering Questions: 

I wonder what you think God said? 

I wonder which part of the story you liked best? 

I wonder which part of the story is the most important? 

I wonder what might happen next? 

I wonder what we might do to make the world beautiful again? 

Rabbi Michael Shire is the rabbi of Central Reform Temple, Boston, and Professor at Hebrew College, Boston.

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