You shall eat unleavened bread for seven days. (Lev. 23:5-6)
Earlier, in Exodus, the command to eat unleavened bread was offset by this command not to eat any leavened products:
Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. (Ex. 12:19)
Of all the foods that play an important role in Jewish ritual life, perhaps the most overlooked in terms of its transformative symbolism is the lowly breadcrumb. Each Rosh Hashanah we loft these penitential pankointo flowing waters, then stand at the ready with spoon, feather and candle as they mysteriously wash ashore at Pesach six months later—inside our toaster, behind our fridge, or surreptitiously planted, like the murder weapon from a bad episode of Law and Order, in an easy-to-reach corner of our home, waiting to be swept up, pronounced null and void, and burnt to a (inedible) crisp. Why were these crumbs chosen to represent our most hidden sins, or (as the chasidim teach), our haughtiest arrogance? Why must we Jews endure this twice-yearly crouton crucible?
Perhaps the breadcrumb’s transformative power can be found in those ritual objects with which they are most intimately connected: the candle, the spoon and the feather on Pesach; and our pockets on Rosh Hashanah. Together, these four items can be taken to represent four major categories of conscious consumption: Energy (candle), food (spoon), communication (feather), and money (pockets). In our daily lives, it is easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged at the prospect of radically altering our lifestyles in order to achieve a more just and sustainable world. The lowly breadcrumb surfaces twice a year to remind us that small changes in how we exist on this planet can result in substantial progress towards tikkun olam.
Here are a few small steps that RSNS has taken over the past few years to become more sustainable in the ways of the candle, spoon, feather and pockets:
Find out if green power is available in your community. Every bit of support helps bring renewable energy onto our grid, and remove thousands of tons of greenhouse gases from our atmosphere.
[In the spirit of sustainability, the first part of this essay was lovingly recycled from Eric’s recent posting on jcarrot.org. Ed]
Questions for Thought and Discussion: