Presentation on theme: "From a Jewish Perspective Studies of Religion Conference 30 June 2011 Rabbi Paul Jacobson."— Presentation transcript:
From a Jewish Perspective Studies of Religion Conference 30 June 2011 Rabbi Paul Jacobson
Halakhah (pathway/Jewish law) Jewish ethical code based on Torah and rabbinic teachings Does not legislate for every occurrence, certain choices are left to man’s moral sense of what is right or wrong Ongoing interaction between halakhah and ethical issues confronting society
Environmental Ethics (Summary) Environmental justice is a Jewish value. Genesis 1 -God created the world -God’s creation is good -Human beings are created in the image of God Tzedek (righteousness, justice) Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) Brit (covenant – we are partners with God in the upkeep of the world) Bal tashchit (do not destroy/cut down) Tza’ar ba’alei chayim (prevention of cruelty to animals) B’tzelem Elohim (created in God’s image) Balance: Values & Needs of humans vs. claims of nature
Bal tashchit (do not destroy/cut down) When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the axe against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are the trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? Only trees that you know do not yield food may be destroyed; you may cut them down for constructing siege works against the city that is waging war on you, until it has been reduced (Deuteronomy 20:19-20).
Tza’ar ba’alei chayim (prevention of cruelty to animals) If along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother with her young. Let the mother go, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life (Deuteronomy 22:6-7). Additional Commandments
Sh’mita/Yoveil (Sabbatical year for the land/jubilee) When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a Sabbath of the LORD. Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in your yield. But in the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, a Sabbath of the LORD; you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the after growth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your untrimmed vines; it shall be a year of complete rest for the land (Leviticus 25:2-5).
B’tzelem Elohim (Created in the image of God) And God created man in God’s image, in the image of God, God created him, male and female God created them (Genesis 1:27). Even those things that you may regard as completely superfluous to creation – such as fleas, gnats, and flies – even they were included in Creation; and God’s purpose is carried through everything – even through a snake, a scorpion, a gnat, and a frog.
Caring for the land? The LORD God formed man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7). The LORD God took the man and placed him the Garden of Eden, to till it and tend it (Genesis 2:15). When God created Adam he led him past all the trees in the Garden of Eden and told him, “See how beautiful and excellent are all My works. Beware lest you spoil and ruin My world. For if you spoil it there is nobody to repair it after you. Or…???
Dominating the land? God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give all the green plants for food.] And it was so (Genesis 1:28-30).
Consequences of our Actions If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving the LORD your God and serving God with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late. You shall gather in your new grain and wine and oil—I will also provide grass in the fields for your cattle—and thus you shall eat your fill. Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them. For the LORD’s anger will flare up against you, and God will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce; and you will soon perish from the good land that the LORD is giving you (Deuteronomy 11:13-17).
Contemporary Efforts Coalition on the Environment in Jewish Life (COEJL.org) Jewish Ecological Coalition (www.jeco.com.au)www.jeco.com.au Google search: “Jewish environmental initiatives” Religious Action Centre (www.rac.org)