The Bible Says What? Be like Rachel when it comes to climate change
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The Bible Says What? Be like Rachel when it comes to climate change

Rabbi Richard Jacobi takes a controversial topic from the Torah and looks at a modern-day response. This week, the planet

Melting ice (Photo by Melissa Bradley on Unsplash)
Melting ice (Photo by Melissa Bradley on Unsplash)

Something that struck me over the past week has been parallels between Jacob’s narrative in our Torah and the drama played out at COP26 in Glasgow.

Might we cast the delegations from the smaller nations and the indigenous peoples as Jacob? They arrived in the foreign environment of a UN space, at which politicians from 200 countries sought to ensure that their own interests were met.

Perhaps we might see the spotted, speckled goats and dark rams over which Jacob and Laban squabble and manipulate each other (Genesis 30: 29–43) as the planet and all its natural life. While we humans argue and seek to protect our own short-term interests, many species are becoming extinct and many others are finding their habitats disappearing or changing radically because of anthropogenic (human-made) climate change.

Those representing the flora and fauna of the world were quite a distance away in the ‘Green Zone’ from the politicians in the ‘Blue Zone’. One senses that, whoever is deemed to have ‘won’ COP26, these innocent species will quite probably lose.

How do we see Rachel’s theft of her father’s ‘household gods’ (Gen 31)? It was an almost silent intervention into the loud-mouthed arguments between Laban and Jacob. Yet, somehow, this act was an essential catalyst for a dramatic conclusion to the games Laban and Jacob played against each other.

Out of this came a pact allowing the protagonists, their families and their flocks to move forward safely with their lives. Just as Rachel might or might not have known that her action would prove essential, so we can and must do what little we are able to in order to effect change.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi serves East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue

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