Earth Day & Passover 2024: Heschel on Passover

On Monday, we are celebrating both Earth Day and Passover for they fall on the same day this year. That synchronicity is special. Maybe there is a deep meaning behind honoring Earth’s Liberation and the Israelites’ Liberation on the same Holy Day this Spring.

“The Destroying Angel Passing Through Egypt,” illustration for The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation Told in Simple Language for the Young, by Charles Foster, p. 111. The illustration is uncredited in the source but appears to be signed by C. Schönher. Previously published in the 1880 edition, but not in the first edition, 1873. Wikimedia Commons.

The Jews were enslaved and unfree at the time of the original Passover. Plagues were overwhelming Jews and Egyptians, their slave masters, alike. But a promise was offered, hope was in the air, liberation was nearby. A lamb was to be sacrificed with its blood smeared on the door so the angel of death would pass over the Jewish people.

And so it came to be. Not just a Passover, but an Exodus, an escape, awaited the Jews.

St. Paul applied this story to Jesus as well when he said that “Christ is our Passover.” The Seder meal that commemorates the liberation and the Passover was then employed by Christians as a reminder of the blood that Christ shed on the cross at the hands of the Empire. The last lamb slain offered another exodus and liberation and Passover meal moment (the Last supper).

“A casual Passover seder table setting.” Photo by RadRafe on Wikimedia Commons.

Rabbi Heschel reminds us that “the ultimate concern of the Jew is not personal salvation but universal redemption.” All are invited into that communal salvation by making their contribution—every person participates at all times in the act of either destroying or redeeming the world….By whatever we do, by every act we carry out, we either advance or obstruct the drama of redemption.*

Indeed, “God is waiting for us to redeem the world.”  Redemption “is a process that goes on all the time….Every person is called up to be a redeemer,” and “redemption takes place every moment, every day.” Indeed, “the Messiah is in us.”* 

Something else that is going on all the time is evil. Today, especially, the blasphemy toward Mother Earth and her sacredness is visible to all. Climate Change threatens the existence of all of humanity and millions of other species with whom we share our sacred planet.

“Portuguese youth climate activists take on 32 European governments in court.” Global News

Is a liberation for Mother Earth and all her creatures possible? Can an Exodus from the slavery of anthropocentrism and human narcissism happen anew this Earth Day? If so, that would be a Passover par excellence.  

To be continued.

*Heschel cited in John C. Merkle, The Genesis of Faith: The Depth Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschelpp. 214f.

See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jennifer Listug, Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action.

And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

And Fox, “Creation—All Our Relations,” in Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 26-49.

Banner image: “Planet Earth First.” Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What meaning do you see in Passover and Earth Day landing on the same day this year?

Recommended Reading

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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6 thoughts on “Earth Day & Passover 2024: Heschel on Passover”

  1. Avatar

    “Our State of Being”

    None. No meaning at all, unless you treat and consider the Passover and Earth Day to only be ‘once per year’ events. But are they not more than that?

    Do we not celebrate ‘the earth’, Mother Earth, our home, our planet, with every breath we take? What of the celebration of the food we eat, the shade under a tree, the rain that brings forth new growth and life to the world?

    Do we not celebrate our freedom, our redemption, our redemership, with our daily thoughts and actions. Many of us are still not free of anxieties and addictions, or are not bearers of a strong faith, and we still are looking forward to the freedom that will come.

    Celebration of ‘the Earth’ and our freedom and redemption, live in and though us and our consciousness by moment, by day. Our heart holds all of these dearly within it. That becomes and is our meaning, our living ‘State of Being’. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    Yes — a very meaningful synchronicity! Our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth is suffering and also needs healing and redemption like We All do because It’s a Part of Us on Our eternal spiritual journeys of Loving Healing Diverse ONENESS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  3. Avatar

    Your reflections this week on the ‘World is Love’ and ‘God is Love’ have touched me deeply and inspired more healing in my body and soul/consciousness.
    This is it! This Love is evolution!
    Thank you Matthew, you are doing what you ask us to do. I am evolving every day in the most humbling and loving way. I love it because it is so humble, Love ‘making’ me more conscious and Alive. Because I am more conscious of the Love in me I am more conscious of the love in every living thing.
    I want to go out into the world with this strength and experience it with this love!
    Gods love and the Earths Love for all of us
    is so humble we can only encounter it
    by opening our hearts with sheer trust
    to receive it.
    We communicate with the delicacy
    of this Love as it enters our essence and our very cells. It always does enter us!!
    When we do this, let Love touch our being than this love in us desires to know and love other beings. It wants to evolve!
    I realize now my deepest desire is to evolve, to create with Life a better more loving life. It’s in our DNA and in our bodies, minds and souls. Every time I grow I feel sheer joy!
    Ignorance, fear, doubt, evil, past loss and pain, will test us everyday.
    But we have a voice. We have a choice.
    Love will undoubtably help us choose Love.

  4. Avatar

    I think the synchronicity is to remind us that we are responsible for repair–of ourselves and from there to all of creation that can only be free if we are all free. I want to keep focusing on what my part is in that freeing.

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