Wednesday, June 06, 2012



I have this on going friendly "argument" with a person I learn Torah with about environmental issues and Judaism.

She is firm that we mustn't pollute.  We have a responsibility to recycle, and be frugal with our resources.  We mustn't take the abundance we have of goodness for granted.

I agree. But I also believe that we mustn't think that we are controlling things, in that if, chas v'shalom, we don't always recycle, or if we are wasteful, that we're doing something horrible and it's damaging the world.

My view is first we were given this world to do G-d's will.  It says this in Breisheit.  The world is ours to use in what ever why we see fit in order to do our mission of connecting with G-d.

Second, Yaacov went back over the Jordan River to get the cailim,(Breisheit 32:25*) and it was there that he wrestled with the angel all night until dawn.  Why did he go back for some simple, earthenware pots?  Because he recognized that every thing he receives in the world is from G-d, and in a sense, it's priceless.  Even some cheap earthenware pots are valuable because of the Source.

Finally,   we pray in Shachrit (at least twice that I could find in my siddur), 'mehadesh kol yom ma'asei breisheit.'  מחדש כל יום מעשה בראשית meaning: that everyday, the acts of creation of the days of Breisheit (Genesis) are renewed.  Hashem is creating the world everyday, a new, and maintaining it.  If that is so, then what damage can we do to the earth, really?

So don't be cavalier, be respectful of the earth and it's resources but don't get too hung up on it either, because in the big picture, Hashem is renewing everything everyday.

Exercise:  Write about any or all of the following:

What do you control?  What do you leave up to G-d?

Do you recycle?  How do you feel about it?

How is renewal different from tshuva?

*Pasuk 32:25 states that, "Yakov was left alone�". Rashi references the Talmud in Chulin 91a that explains why Yakov was alone on the east bank of the Jabbok River (an eastern tributary of the Jordan - Areyeh Kaplan). "He had forgotten some small vessels and went to retrieve them."  

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