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Sins of Omission

Climate Change and Sins of Omission
Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
Rebbe & Director of Community Learning
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

How do we repent for sins of omission? When we repent for doing something wrong, the feeling is enough. Aside from the feeling, there’s really nothing else to do. But what about things we haven’t done? Here the feeling will not suffice. There are still actions we must take – and as soon as possible. Let’s apply this to the climate crisis.

Removing danger from the world is a mitzvah from the Torah. The Rambam writes, “one who leaves a dangerous obstacle and does not remove it, negates a positive commandment, and violates a negative commandment.” Simply refraining from causing danger is not sufficient. We have an obligation to remove it. Rabbi Yerucham Fishel Perlow argues that this obligation rests upon the community and on the individual. Climate change is a danger to the individual, the community, and the world. We all have a חיוב [obligation] from the Torah to work for its removal.

Did we work to solve the climate crisis this year? I’m not talking about driving less, I’m talking about taking positive action. The word פשע that we say in the Yom Kippur confession means both rebellion and negligence. We may not have rebelled against God’s mitzvot, but it is likely, in the case of the climate, that we were negligent.

How do we repent? Do something now. Join an advocacy organization. Sign a petition. Write a petition. Most importantly, do not sit passively. The Torah demands action, and only action, on a massive scale, can solve the climate crisis. 


What can we do right now?

Call Senator Schumer weekly (or daily!) until the Senate passes the $3.5 trillion recovery budget with bold climate action. New York City office: (212) 486-4430; Washington D.C. office: (202) 224-6542.

RSVP for the first Bronx-Wide Rally for Climate Jobs and Justice on Thursday, October 28th at 5:30pm at Fordham Plaza. Learn more and support the NY Renews campaign for the Climate and Community Investment Act. Sign up at 

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-us-to-fight-for-climate-jobs-and-justice/ 

Sign up for the Jewish Climate Action Network NYC e-newsletter about opportunities to lobby, march, advocate, and educate (sign up at www.jcan-nyc.org or www.facebook.com/JCANNYC/ or by emailing us at info@JCAN-NYC.org.

Sun, October 17 2021 11 Cheshvan 5782