Rabbi Waskow: Breath and Climate Change


“A Hassidic teaching: ‘What is the world? The world is God, wrapped in robes of God so as to seem material. And what are we? We are God, wrapped in robes of God, and our task, our mission is to unwrap the robes – disrobe! – and dis-cover that we and all the world are God.’

Suppose we enrich that way of understanding God with a further teaching: That we hear the God Whose name is YHWH, YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, the Name that only can only be “pronounced” by breathing, as the still small “voice” of Breath that intertwines all life on Earth.

The Breath that we breathe in is what the trees breathe out; the Breath the trees breathe in is what we breathe out. God is our Interbreathing. YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh. Pronounce it: Breathe.

That Breath is also the Air, the “Atmosphere” of Earth. The balance of oxygen that the trees breathe out with the carbon dioxide we breathe out is what makes up the balance of geological history.

Now, we humans have invented ways of pouring far more CO2 into the air than the trees can absorb. With 400 parts per million of CO2 in our air, scorching earth, the “interbreath” is in crisis. What we call the “climate crisis” is a crisis in the very Name of God!

And what is prayer? Our words of prayer are simply breath, shaped by our lips and tongues. The prayer is itself God’s presence, YHWH’s Presence.

To Whom does prayer speak? Not to a King, a Lord, a Judge that is far beyond and above us. Prayer speaks within our selves, among ourselves, and among all the life-forms of our planet.

We have to relearn how to pray, in order to make prayer God’s very Presence, in order to make our breathing part of the healing of the wounded air that is the wounded Name of God.”–Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Read more from Reb Arthur here.

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