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Earth Day Kaddish

Earth Day Kaddish

for Chochmat HaLev 4th Fridays, Iyar 11/12 5781


Yitgadal v’yitkadash shmei raba: Huge and holy may the great name be

Death is a loss. It’s a shrinking. It’s, one part of the universal whole, losing its essence, ceasing to exist, making us all, a little less.

Death is also a cycle, a composting, a beautiful, inevitable thing. And there are 1000 ways to drash it. But another truth, is that death, is a loss.

In response to the death, of something, the demise of a piece of the universal oneness, the first words of our mourning kaddish are

Yitgadal v’yitkadash shmei raba: Huge and holy may the great name be

In response to a loss, we reclaim the abundance around us. We add it to. We try to fill in the gap left by the departure, with our words, Huge and Holy, suturing together the oneness again as best we can.

The goal, the desire, what Hashem wants, is for Her world to be Huge and Holy, to be teeming and abundantly excessive in its life. She wants deep jungle, she wants migratory herds that coat the savannah like cloud cover. She wants human abundance, she wants animal abundance, she wants plants, she wants microbes, she wants life and she LUSTS for it, if you take a half second look around, at how tenacious and shameless life is in its quest to live, you’ll know.

So what does it mean, that we, our species, is alive, and supposedly subservient to that God, and yet, we, our species, causes so much death.

If our God wants huge life, wants holy abundance, how does she feel when we exterminate an entire other species? When we cause extinction, when we clear cut a forest older than our oldest ancestor, one that She planted herself at the same time as the Garden of Eden sprouted from the ground?

In this kaddish, I’d like us to mourn the entire walks of life that, not even our species, but really the systems our species has chosen to implement, the colonial genocides and rapacious capital - I want to mourn the death that those systems have caused, that we have caused, and how they have robbed Hashem of her Hugeness and her Holiness, over and over again.

From the Atlas Bear, to the Piopio, to the Saudi gazelle. To the Xerces blue butterfly, to Merriam’s elk to the Mount Glorious day frog. To the O’ahu o’o, to the Sea Mink, to the Canary Islands oystercatcher.

We mourn, we mourn, we mourn, the loss to the Oneness. The fact that these reflections of Hashem’s artistry, craft and brilliance no longer glimmer on the face of this earth. We know they swim in the soil beneath our feet. We mourn that they no longer dance among us. We wish we deserved their shine.

And of course, how could we expect our societies to protect these animals, when we’ve practiced the same abhorrence against even our own. These animals died as their earth was salted, and its stewards annihilated too. I will not cheapen the memory of the Lucayan civilization, or the Beothuk people. They deserve more kaddishes than we can say. But we must know that the barbarism that steals life from this planet, its lust for death, knows no bounds.

We hold all these incalculable tolls in our hearts in this Kaddish, and we hold, in the vast capacity of our hearts, the particular pains our community has experienced in recent days:

[names redacted for this public post]

We are also sending condolences to the family and friends of the more than 569,875 Americans among the more than 3,073,500 people worldwide who have died of COVID.

Before we say this Kaddish, I will ask that we take 30 seconds to sit in silence and take in the extent to which death has touched our world and our community. You’re invited to feel the loss of these people, these creatures and this life, in your heart.

As we say and complete the mourner’s kaddish, please add the names of those you are remembering into the chat.

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