Tu B’Shvat Teaches Us We Each Must Take on the Obligation of Addressing Climate Change

January 27, 2021

By Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff for The Jewish Forward

Amid today’s climate catastrophe, Tu B’Shvat offers us a chance to consider our role as environmental caretakers. This past year, news of droughts and deluges, fires and floods, has woven itself across our news feeds in an unending parade of devastation that can only be described as biblical in proportion.

But what should the role of individuals be in addressing this crisis? While we know that greenhouse gases are leading to rising temperatures, violent weather and desertification, it remains unclear what exactly each one of us is supposed to do about it.

Can the Torah provide us with wisdom with how to best grapple with this seemingly intractable challenge?

One of the greatest difficulties of climate change is that it is virtually impossible for the actions of individuals to make a significant impact on its progress. Even if thousands of us were to deny ourselves such climate-damaging luxuries as driving, air travel and meat consumption, the effects would be minimal so long as the rest of the world continued to release greenhouse gases indiscriminately.

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