Feed on
Posts

In the first chapter of Genesis, twice in three verses, G-d speaks of humans ruling over other living beings. In the second instance, after creating Adam and Eve, G-d blesses them, saying "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

What does it mean for humans to subdue the earth and have dominion over other creatures?

Link to resources

00:0000:00
create online store

We live in an amazingly diverse world, with approximately 8.3 million unique species described by scientists, and likely twice that number that have not yet been discovered.  Jewish sources teach that G-d has joy in the diversity and continuity of creation, and that G-d sees a purpose in each of these species.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

The Jewish tradition places a strong value on being healthy. The Torah states, “Guard yourself and guard your soul very much"  and “You shall guard yourselves very well."  The Jewish Sages explain that these verses refer to the mitzvah (commandment) of protecting one’s physical body and health.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

Living in this world means being a neighbor. This fundamental principle is found in the very roots of the Hebrew language. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: "[The Hebrew word] shachan means both to dwell, and also to be a neighbor... In Jewish thought,to dwell means to be a neighbor.  When a Jew takes a place on earth to be his dwelling place he must at the same time concede space and domain to his fellow men for a similar dwelling place."

Link to resources

00:0000:00

Today’s energy technologies have greatly increased material standards of living among human societies. But they also have driven significant environmental changes which are beginning to have noticeable impacts worldwide, including climate change, the BP oil spill, and Japan’s nuclear crisis. What can we learn from the Jewish tradition about how to use energy responsibly?

Link to resources

00:0000:00

Shemita, the Sabbatical Year, comprises a number of the 613 commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah . With today’s environmental challenges, these mitzvot may be more relevant and needed today than at any time in Jewish and world history. We will explore each of these commandments in an attempt to understand their timeless wisdom and application for today’s world—a world which so desperately needs a shift in our collective consciousness.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov identifies the desire for food and drink as the central desire of the human being, and the one from which other desires emanate. In Rabbi Tzadok Hacohen’s “A Treatise on Eating,” he cites the mystical book of the Zohar, which calls the moment of eating “the time of combat.”  This is because in eating a Jew must engage in the spiritual fight to ensure the act is a holy one.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

Today’s environmental movement seems to focus strongly on doing.  There are things to buy, actions to take, petitions to sign, policies to advocate.  It is rare for environmentalists to think of prayer as a tool for change.  Many people in today’s society think of prayer as a passive, contemplative activity – a break from action.  Jewish teachings express a very different view of prayer.  Prayer is one of the key tools that God has given us to change the world.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

Human beings depend on a sufficient supply of high quality fresh water for their survival. Because of this essential dependence, Jewish sources equate water with life. By recognizing our dependence on water, and ultimately our dependence on G-d, we can strengthen our appreciation and protection of our precious natural resources, and our relationship with the Creator of the world.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

For one who is wealthy, proper use of wealth can be a force for positive change in the world. However, wealth can also be a corrupting influence. Money and wealth, meant to be in service of higher aspirations and lofty deeds (such as charity), can instead become the aspiration itself. The means then become the end, and wealth changes from being an instrument for good to something that diminishes a person spiritually.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

Beyond the physical causes, the widespread degradation of the natural world indicates that our way of life is out of balance. Thus the environmental crisis also reflects a spiritual crisis. Human-caused disruptions to the natural world emerge from the inner imbalance within billions of human beings. The change required of us to correct this is, to a significant degree, of a spiritual nature.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

People living in consumer society relate to material objects in a vastly different way than people did in previous times. Age-old Jewish teachings reveal a Jewish vision for 'holy use' of the material world and relate deeply to today’s need for sustainable resource use.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

The ancient story of Noah and the flood relates to many ecological issues facing the modern world. For example, the preservation of our environment depends on individuals taking accountability for their deeds.

Link to resources

00:0000:00

In modern society, we are running, speaking, and thinking at an exceptional rate. Oftentimes we continue all week long without slowing down. We can get so caught up in the doing that we could spend our whole lives on the go. If being too busy is a malady of modern man, slowing down on Shabbat may be a key remedy.

Link to Resource

00:0000:00

Before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., the Jewish and gentile population expanded to about 2.1 million inhabitants.  During the period before and after the destruction of the Second Temple (20 C.E. to 200 C.E., also known as the Mishnaic period), the people living in the Land of Isarel were fed in good part from grain, wine, and oil produced in Israel.  At this time and for centuries afterward, most Jews still farmed the Land.

Link to resource

00:0000:00

A basic rule of Jewish ethics is the emulation of God's ways. In the words of the Talmud, "Just as He is merciful, so shall you be merciful" (Tractate Sotah 14a). Therefore compassion for all creatures is not only God's business; it is everyone’s. Moreover, rabbinic tradition describes God's mercy as above all other divine attributes. Thus, compassion must not be reckoned as one good trait among others; rather, it is central to the entire Jewish approach to life.

Link to resource

00:0000:00

The commandment of Bal Tashchit-- do not destroy or waste-- has long been considered central to a Jewish environmental ethic. Indeed, Rabbi Norman Lamm understands it to be “the biblical norm which most directly addresses itself to the ecological situation.”  What is the basis for the commandment not to waste?

Link to resource

00:0000:00

An oft-quoted Midrash teaches: “When G-d created the first man He took him and showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him 'See My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. And everything that I created, I created it for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy My world - for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it.'"

Link to resources

00:0000:00