Towards a better climate change mythology: A deep reading of masechet ta’anit

Oct 5, 2020 - Oct 8, 2020

On October 5,6,7, and 8 we were joined in deep conversation around the intersection of ancient talmudic wisdom and modern climate action.

Recordings of the series can be found here: 
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Thank you to our Co-sponsor Wilderness Torah. 

Sukkot ends, each year, with a prayer for rain. Masechet Ta’anit begins by asking what happens – and what we should do – if the rains don’t come.

The acute crisis of COVID-19, against the backdrop of the creeping challenge of a warming climate,  are shaking our sense of invulnerability to the natural world. And they are challenging our societies’ capacities to effectively respond. We need deeper sources of wisdom to orient ourselves to these challenges.

Jewish wisdom about coping with a climactic crisis – and plague – is distilled in tractate Ta’anit of the Talmud, which addresses how we should respond when a change in the weather threatens our lives and livelihoods. As different  as our reality is from the Talmud’s, both the rabbis and contemporary environmentalists converge on the view that dangerous disruption to the weather requires a response that touches our lifestyles, behavior and spiritual consciousness.

In these four consecutive lectures, Rabbi Yedidya Sinclair argues that people respond to existential danger from the weather through shifts in behavior and consciousness that reverberate across the divide separating pre-modern and post-modern awareness. Through exploring these places of mutual resonance between the Talmud’s world and our own, we will frame a new-old theology of climate change that offers hope to overcome this critical challenge.

The lectures should be interesting to you if you have three phds in talmud and rabbinical ordination; and should be accessible and interesting even if you have no background at all. The four lectures are independent – you can come to any one even if you don’t manage to attend the others – but they will best be appreciated if you join us for the first one and stay with us for all four.

This event series was offered free of charge. Please consider making a donation to support our work.