Mah Rabu (How beautiful is this earth!)

May 15, 2020

When was your last “wow” moment in nature? Sometimes the beauty of God’s creation makes us skip a breath.

Mirowitz students know that there’s a Jewish phrase for that feeling of awe: Mah Rabu Ma’asecha Adonai. “How many are your works, oh God.” It comes from Psalm 104, and is recited each morning during Yotzer Or.

This Wednesday was Earth Day, and we were especially thoughtful about the way nature has offered a silver lining during this unusual time. Many of us have experienced nature in new ways. Our students mentioned in our Wednesday morning chat a few of the “Mah Rabu” moments they have had these past few weeks:

• a starry night
• budding flowers
• a colorful sunset
• the view from the limb of a tree
• the sound of birds chirping. 

My favorite Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, teaches that we can experience moments of the Divine in our relationship with nature. Even in our own backyards, we can experience the sounds, colors and smells in more profound ways. When we take the time to be still, to breathe in the fresh air, to see tree leaves moving in the otherwise invisible ruach (wind), we can experience what Buber describes as I-Thou moments. (It’s probably not a coincidence that Ruach is also a name of God.)

This Earth Day, nature seemed to be enjoying its break from carbon emissions, and our students were encouraged to immerse themselves in something that made them exclaim “Mah Rabu Ma’asecha Adonai.” Let that continue through the weekend. Head outside as a family this Shabbat and gasp at the wonders of creation. 

Shabbat Shalom,
Cheryl Maayan