It has been a very soggy Sukkot so far here on the East coast. The weather has fluctuated between body-drenching heat and humidity and torrential rain. I’ve found my head buzzing at times this week with those oft-cited phrases: global warming and climate change. Mind you, I am very much your garden variety environmentalist; I recycle our soda bottles and love to buy organic when the prices allow. Being green doesn’t always dictate my suburban mom lifestyle, but it certainly maintains a hold on my conscience and consciousness.
Sukkot generally reinforces that hold. While we exile ourselves from our material homes and expose ourselves to the elements in recognition and appreciation of the bounty and protection G-d bestows on us, we cannot help but think about how our actions impact the physical world around us in very tangible ways (just as out actions influence our spiritual world, which we reflected upon extensively during the high holidays).
Given the past wet week, it is not coincidental that when I reviewed this week’s parashah, I was drawn by the idyllic image of Gan Eden and what a lush, temperate, perfect world Adam and Eve lived in, if only briefly. The phrase from the parashah that also echoed in my mind (in concert with the environmental slogans mentioned above) is the mandate for humankind to work and protect the earth (2:15), לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ, to be stewards of the earth and use its resources wisely. I’ve chosen to base our Shabbat dinner this week on these words. Yesterday, our two youngest children and I had the opportunity to visit a local farmers’ market. We bought a colorful array of tomatoes and an assortment of eggplants in various shades of purple; fresh Brussels sprouts, sunchokes, and squash filled our basket. These foods are for our Shabbat table, where we will have a chance to talk about what it means to be a farmer, to work the land, to rely on G-d for rain and sun to help our food grow. We will also talk about how we can fulfill the mandate to work and guard the earth if we ourselves are not tillers of soil.
On a completely different note, we will be going out for lunch for Shabbat and bringing a gift to our hosts reminiscent of the first day of creation. To honor the creation of darkness and light, we are making black and white cookies (using this recipe) and have bought black and white jelly beans. If you prefer something more in this genre for a Shabbat meal (or cannot get to a farmers’ market), see the archives for a six days of creation menu.