A teaching from the Garden of Eden by Rav Natan

Have you ever experienced that moment when something bad happened and you think: “Did I do everything I could to prevent this?

What are your feelings when the answer is positive? What is your reaction when the answer is negative?

Do you also think if there is still something that maybe you can do that will help at least a little bit? At this point, is it because you really want to change that or now is just to feel a little bit better?

Well, it happens to me as well. When I walk on the street and I see trash on the ground, but I don’t go out of my way to throw it away… instant regret. It also happens to me when I say something that I shouldn’t, or I don’t say what I actually had to.

Our lives are like a chain, a collection of moments connected to each other through time. As far as we know, going back is not an option.

There are things that pass by and the only consequences might be related only to us, but some also change someone else’s life.

Every aspect of our lives is full of these moments. Personal relationships, politics, work, the environment…

We are living in a time when things change so fast that calculating the consequences is luxury.

Let me tell you a story. Our Rabbis recreate a dialogue between God and Adam when they were walking in the Garden of Eden (Kohelet Rabbah 7:13):

When God created the first human being, Adam, God took Adam for a walk around all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and God said to Adam: “Look at My works, how pleasant and praiseworthy they are, and everything that I created, for you I created, so pay attention to not corrupt and destroy My world, because if you corrupt it, there is no one who will fix it after you.”

It is so powerful to me this image of God personally teaching Adam how to care for the environment and for our world. Everything is connected. This is one of the origins of the concept of Tikkun Olam – our communal and individual responsibility to make this world a better place.

We still have much to learn. How many more righteous people will suffer the consequences of our own mistakes? How many more opportunities to do the right thing are going to pass by in our lives without being noticed?

A civil New Year comes with a reminder: be responsible. Being Jewish means that we are responsible for our decisions and our actions actually matter.

May this opportunity of a new civil year remind us of our individual and collective responsibilities, being mindful of our relationships with each other and with our world.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year, filled with love and responsibility, empathy and compassion for each other.

Looking forward for the multiple opportunities ahead of us to congregate in all formats possible, celebrating life, learning together, and making this world a better place for all.

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