The river was always there, down the street, icy in winter, rapidly flowing after the snowmelt in spring, calm and still in the summer, reflecting in its waters the overhanging trees whose colors magnificently changed in the autumn. During my childhood in a small Upstate New York town, summers would stretch into long days outdoors, as I played in fresh, sweet air. This is the Earth I knew, the Earth I took for granted.
But now I know better. I know that taking anything for granted will break one’s heart when it is threatened beyond repair. Perhaps it was my simple pleasure in being outdoors for hours on end that led to my commitment to environmentalism. Studying and teaching Torah made that commitment a Jewish imperative.