History tells me, don’t trust the system. The world we’ve built is unsustainable, right down to the sewers on which it rests. We have flushed the wealth of nations down our toilet for over 200 years, and what have we got for it? A culture of bloated waist and an appetite bred to insatiability. Don’t put your trust in the serpent that eats its tail, especially if its waste is toxic.
The Land calls on me to trust the promise, and the process. Each step must unfold in its own time in order that the seed can grow and in order that redemption can come. Our built environment allows us to ignore the base which sustains us, but the return to a more grounded state is inevitable – in the end, we all rot. Am Yisrael lives this cycle of redemption on personal and national scales. Our long-suffering trust that we are on the way home is more real than the grave, and is the hope which feeds our rebirth. The seed decays in the ground before it can flower. I know that our decomposition is nearly complete, I feel the quickening of new life. I trust that the promise will be fulfilled for us and all humanity and “He will destroy death forever.”
What about the Torah? Gd’s blueprint for creation is surely a faithful guide. But there is no text without context, and no Torah without Am Yisrael. Whose voice we can trust? Once it was primarily practice that defined a trustworthy yid, unless he stood up and shouted heresy from the rooftops. Ideological purity has replaced experiential truth as we retreat in fear from a complex world. Trust the Torah. Don’t ask if I believe -in Gd, Sinai, Eretz Yisrael – and exclude me if I don’t. Teach the mitzvoth, dig deep into the Torah, and help me experience their reality.
And love? I trust you all get that connection. There is no love without trust, and in the reality of a broken world, no trust without love to cover our failings. Ultimately it is love – for Gd, for Am Yisrael, for creation – which binds us. Only if we trust this commitment can take the risks needed for building a new world together.
In our learning in nezikin next year we will see a widespread assumption that trash (zevel) is a thing of a value. What does it say about our society that trash is at best useless and at worst lethal?
Check out what Victor Hugo had to say about the matter in the mid-19th century. ” Paris throws five millions a year into the sea. And this without metaphor. How, and in what manner? day and night. With what object? without any object. With what thought? without thinking of it. For what return? for nothing. By means of what organ? by means of its intestine. What is its intestine? its sewer . . . Science, after long experiment, now knows that the most fertilizing and the most effective of manures is that of man . . . A sewer is a mistake. (Les Miserables; Jean Valjean, Book II, ch 1)
“the history of men is reflected in the history of sewage…The sewer is the conscience of the city. All things converge into it and are confronted with one another…Everything has its real form, or at least its definitive form. (Les Miserables; Jean Valjean, Book II, ch 2)
 Look around you right now – does anything you see not reflect human endeavor? Send us your stories of finding Gd in nature, or why you think we received the Torah in the wilderness
 Isaiah 25:8
 Where is the fearless nobility of the Sages, who were driven by questions to which they did not know the answers instead of being afraid of them?!