The Miracles of Passover and Climate Change
These past few days, I have been looking through the Passover Haggadah, preparing to lead my Passover Seder. As I sat there reading over some of the miracles of Passover, a slight shiver ran down my back. I have never looked at the ten plagues through the perspective of climate change. Could the Exodus be not just a celebration of our freedom from slavery, but a warning against our consumption of our resources?
Pharaoh's downfall is due to ill treatment of his resources, in this case the Israelites. Instead of treating them with dignity and respect, he forced them into slavery. His second mistake was his hardened heart. He was comfortable with an unsustainable and inhumane way of treating his workers. Many times, we, too, prefer to keep doing things in the old way, instead of moving to a more sustainable future. Pharaoh could have allowed the Israelites more freedom and dignity, but instead his heart kept hardening. For us, it is to get our energy from renewable sources instead of harmful fossil fuels. What was the consequencefor Pharaoh for his ill treatment and hardened heart? Ten plagues, each worse then the one before.
Currently, we are beginning to see the effects of climate change and they seem awfully similar to some of those plagues. Is the water turning into blood so different than the way we have polluted our streams and waterways with enough toxic chemicals that they are becoming undrinkable? Are boils so different then the spread of malaria through mosquitoes that find homes in new regions thanks to climate change? The death of ancient Egyptian livestock isn't so different than so many of our modern plants and animals becoming extinct. How often do we see hail now, thanks to the increase in hurricanes around the world? And too many lives are lost today to increased flooding, extreme weather patterns, and degraded environmental health.
This Passover, let us heed the warning signs instead of hardening our hearts. Let us tell our leaders, "Let My People Go!" and free ourselves from these dangerous fossil fuels that enslave us.
Spotlight on Greening Reform Judaism: During the month of April, the URJ is highlighting resources that help our congregations in their greening and tikkun olam efforts. Passover is a perfect time to spread the word and celebrate that the religious-environmental movement is truly here. Find resources for a social justice Passover and learn more about Greening Reform Judaism today.