“Insatiable is Unsustainable”

One of the highlights of the 2007 Shalom Hartman Institute was Melila Hellner-Eshed’s presentation, “Tikkun Olam: Kabbalistic Language for the Emerging Lexicon of Environmental Tikkun.” At Torah Study on shabbat b’reishit, I attempted to teach some of the texts she shared with us. My source sheet includes three Zohar texts, a bit of background material from Art Green’s Guide to the Zohar, and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi (2007), from her new album Shine. Sorry, no audio of me performing the tune.

Melilah went much further than this source sheet does, bringing us other Zohar texts, midrashim, Rav Kook and Binyamim Sh’vili. It was the “insatiable is unsustainable” remark that really stood out for me. The second of the three Zohar texts speaks directly to the point. When our drive to dominate and “know” everything is left unchecked, we divorce ourselves from reality and destroy our world.

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