Al Het, 5780: Seeking Atonement for the Climate Crisis

By Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein
woman standing in wheat field

You are One, the Web of Life, the Eternal, the Before and After,
the Mystery and the Beyond and the Present and the Here and Now.
You are Love.

You recognize the wrongs we do, 
both purposeful and unintentional:
those which we choose and those we are compelled to do,
those which are revealed and those which are hidden--
in Your presence all becomes revealed and known.

What are we? What is our life? 
What is our love?  What is our justice? 
What is our help?  What is our strength?
What is our power? 

You know the secrets of the universe,
the most hidden recesses of all that lives.
You search the chambers of our inner being,
You examine the conscience and the heart.  

So let it be Your will, Eternal One,
that You may grant forgiveness to us for all of our sins,
and be merciful to us for all of our injustices,
and let us atone for all we have done wrong.

May our atonement be in service of learning how to live more gently on this beautiful blue-green planet that we call home.  May we as humanity be guided to transform our ways of being so that future generations may live in peace and prosperity. 

...עַל חֵטְא שֶׁחָטָאנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ

For the wrong we have done before You by failing to hear within ourselves the sounds of the Earth crying.

For the wrong we have done before You through our shortsightedness.

For the wrong we have done before You by allowing our sense of overwhelm to numb us into inaction.  

For the wrong we have done before You by forgetting how much we love life. 

For the wrong we have done before You by poisoning the air we breathe and the water we drink.

For the wrong we have done before You by failing to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions.

For the wrong we have done before You through environmental racism, often locating toxic power plants and other sources of pollution in the neighborhoods where the majority of residents are people of color.

For the wrong we have done before You by empowering political leaders and company executives who focus on building power and wealth rather than protecting the common good.

For the wrong we have done before You by granting climate deniers a platform for shaping public opinion in America.

For the wrong we have done before You by industrialized farming practices that both mistreat animals and contribute to warming the planet.

For the wrong we have done before You by destroying food supplies and habitats for countless species of animals.

For the wrong we have done before You by stripping and burning the Amazon.

For the wrong we have done before You by failing to take responsibility for the American contribution to destabilizing the climate.

For the wrong we have done before You by carrying on with business as usual as we stand at the brink of human-created climate catastrophe.

For all of these wrongs, Beloved One who forgives, please forgive us, pardon us, help us atone! 
v’al kulal elo-ah selikhot, selakh lanu, mekhal lanu, kaper lanu

Do not forsake us,
do not cast us away, you who brought us into being,
and do not cause us the destruction that our wrongs demand. 


(Portions of this text are adapted from Yom Kippur liturgy as translated in Kol Haneshamah, Machzor for Yamim Noraim, 1999. Malkah Binah can be reached through thrivingspirit.org.)

Prayer

Found in: Yom Kippur

Tags: al het, climate crisis

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