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The Environment


What is Judaism's attitude to environmental issues? answered:

Judaism’s attitude is not to conquer the world by raping and destroying its resources, but rather to both permit and require: cultivation with concern, progress with restraint, growth with conservation and technology with preservation.

Jewish Scriptures, so full of references to nature and its sublime grandeur, inspire respect and appreciation for the environment. This is what is behind the Jewish practice to pronounce blessings over natural phenomena such as a rainbow, lightning, shooting stars, the first blossoms of a tree, and many more. In addition, Jewish law provides comprehensive legislation on issues such as preservation, conservation, animal welfare, species preservation, sanitation and pollution.

Judaism's attitude toward protecting nature is not just for tangible results in the present; the Torah also teaches to plan preservation strategies for the future. The Talmud relates that Choni HaMe'agel was walking on the road. He saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked the man, "How long until this tree will produce fruit?" He answered that it will take seventy years. Choni asked him, "Are you sure that you'll still be around in seventy years?" The man replied, "Just as my fathers planted for me, so will I plant for my children."

There is a Midrash that beautifully summarizes Judaism’s approach to environmental issues: "When the Holy One Blessed Be He 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 I created all of it for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy my world because if you spoil it, there will be no one after you to repair it".

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