Healing the Earth

Jade Weiner from the Union of Jewish Women of South Africa reports on the environmental impact of the Coronavirus lockdown around the world.

While people have been on lock-down all over the world in an attempt to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Earth has been able to rejuvenate and heal.

The Jewish month of Iyar is a time of healing and second chances. This Rosh Chodesh (new month) coincides with Earth Day – marking the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The Hebrew letters of the name of this month אייר, are an abbreviation for the Torah verse “Ani Yud Yud Rofecha”. Translation: “I am G-d, your healer.” The message is clear: healing oneself is the way we connect to our greater wholeness. This message doesn’t only apply to us as individuals, it is also intended for animals and nature alike – it applies to all of Hashem’s world.

Without the busy commute of people in cars, buses, planes, trains and the hustle and bustle of many non-essential producing manufacturing plants; here are some ways that the planet is healing:

Air pollution levels in China, the UK and Italy are much lower than the levels recorded this time last year. The sky over some of India’s most polluted cities has turned beautifully blue since its people went on lockdown. The earth has been given time to breathe which results in an improvement of air quality for people too!

Not only is air pollution reducing, but so too is water pollution. Venice’s famous canals which were previously murky and grey have turned clear and blue! Usually home to tourist gondolas and boats, the water now welcomes swans, fish and seabirds back to the canals.

Animals are reclaiming the land in other places too, making use of deserted streets and skies, and being able to freely explore. In Wales a herd of curious goats has been enjoying the deserted town centre.

Despite being locked down in urban settings, people are starting to appreciate and connect to nature in other ways. A new TV channel is streaming safari drives showcasing South Africa’s best wildlife and people are sharing social media posts of nature’s treasures.

After lockdown it will be up to each of us to try and maintain these better environmental situations. We know that it is possible to reduce our activities and consumption and to create a safer environment. Now, we need to make long-lasting changes in the way we live our lives that will protect the planet going forward. By living less frantic lives, being in nature more and living more organically, we can both heal as individuals and contribute to universal healing.

By healing ourselves, we can heal the world, like Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist Zen master said: “If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.”