Texas weather has us crazy — is it freezing or are we ready for spring? One thing we know here is to take advantage of the good weather. Now by the time you read this, it may not be perfect weather to spend in nature but as has been said, “There is no bad weather — just the wrong clothes!” Exploring and enjoying the beauty and secrets of nature is important for everyone at every age. I could go on and on giving research details on the importance of nature for children and adults but if you want to know all about it, read Richard Louv’s two books “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle” or check out what is happening at www.childrenandnature.org.
However, for today, I want to connect Judaism and nature by sharing from “What’s Jewish About Butterflies?” by Handelman and Schein. There is a whole chapter on rocks — what could be more natural and we know that kids love rocks (and even adults find them comforting to hold!). So what does Judaism tell us? At times the Torah refers to G-d as “Tzur — the Rock” and we are reminded of G-d’s strength. There are many Jewish values that help us explore rocks but let us focus on “Ma’aseh B’reishit — the Miracle of Creation.” We can go on a rock hunt and discover the varieties — each of us may pick a favorite based on different qualities and just as we are all different but created in “G-d’s image — b’tzelem Elohim,” rocks are also part of G-d’s creation. We can also talk about “derech eretz — proper behavior” when we are careful not to throw rocks or hurt others with them.
Any rock can be a special rock but there are some more special! Israel is well known for Jerusalem Stone and Eilat Stone. Jerusalem Stone comes from the hills near Jerusalem and it is required to be on the face of every building in the city. Eilat Stone is also known as King Solomon’s Stone and it is the national stone of Israel. It comes from King Solomon’s copper mines in the Timna Valley. Eilat Stone is blue in color and some believe that it has healing properties.
Whether you have a rock from Israel or a rock that comes from somewhere else but you love it, that rock can give you strength. It reminds us of G-d and all of creation. When we find our special rock, we can say this blessing:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam Oseh Maaseh V’reisheet. Blessed are You, O Lord, Creator of the universe, Who makes all of creation.
Laura Seymour is Jewish Experiential Learning director and Camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.