Canfei Nesharim

Releases from the Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment


Tuesday Jul 09, 2013

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

Wednesday Jan 16, 2013

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

Wednesday Jan 02, 2013

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

Thursday Dec 20, 2012

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

Monday Nov 26, 2012

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

Monday Nov 05, 2012

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

Wednesday Oct 17, 2012

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

Wednesday Aug 29, 2012

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

Wednesday Aug 08, 2012

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

Tuesday Jul 24, 2012

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

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