By Laura Seymour
This week I told the story of King David and the spider and the one about King Solomon and the bee. Both stories are about how an insect saved a king. The Tanach is filled with stories and commandments of how we are supposed to treat the land and all that live on that land. From the very first chapters in Genesis, we are told to “rule” and “master” and “to till and tend.” In some ways today, we have taken the “rule and master” as license to do whatever we wish and our land is paying the price. How can we get back to the real idea that G-d has given us a gift and we must take care of that gift?
We must remember a very important Jewish value: we are “shomrim adamah” — “guardians of the earth,” and this lesson must start young. What we are learning today is not only that the earth needs caring for but that caring for, the earth helps everyone of us in so many ways. I often recommend books, but here is a website — www.childrenandnature.org. We need to experience the land to connect to it and value it and care for it, and through our experiences, we will grow. Look at these texts from our tradition and talk about them with your friends and families:
- You must not sit down to your own meal before you have fed your pets and barnyard animals.
— Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 40a based on Deuteronomy 11:15
- The whole world of humans, animals, fish and birds all depend on one another. All drink the earth’s water, breathe the earth’s air, and find their food in what was created on the earth. All share the same destiny.
— Tanna de Bei Eliyahu Rabbah 2
- Every kind of fish, bird, and animal contributes something to the world you live in — even the ones you may consider to be unnecessary, such as fleas, gnats and flies.
— Midrash Genesis Rabbah 10:7
The stories of King David and King Solomon remind us that everything has a place and a purpose even if we don’t see it at first. So before you step on that spider, think of King Solomon and maybe just send it out into the world.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.