The environment is sustained by trees, which cleanse the air and stabilize the earth, and the references in Jewish sources to the importance of protecting them are meant to be guidelines for caring for the planet in general.
The rabbis of old were interested in the why: Why was it necessary for the Israelites to develop their peoplehood in the crucible of slavery? "Django Unchained" is essentially Quentin Tarantino's exploration of exactly the same question.
If we're made in God's image, could it be possible that our Maker also experienced new parenthood as a crazy challenge, making God vulnerable -- metaphorically sleep-deprived -- and deeply in love with those helpless naked creatures.
When we forgive, we are doing Teshuvah and are able to spiritually stand in that place before creation. Before the past, before the future, we are able to stand in the Infinite present moment in which God is re-creating the world every single second.
In the Bible God exiles Adam and Eve and declares that they will never be permitted to return to the Garden. If God's intention was to assure that humanity would be forever exiled, why did God not destroy Eden?
What troubles me about last year is connected to what troubles me about Gen. 22:2. The text grates on my ears and eyes because it reminds me that American Jews seem to have forgotten that Ishmael is their great-grand-uncle.