It is not a secret to anyone that currently, we are facing one of the most difficult and dangerous environmental crisis that the humankind has ever seen. Global warming stopped being a speculation and became a harsh reality that affects every single country on the face of the earth.
Educating everyone on ways to protect and preserve the environment has become a crucial issue if we want future generations to have a place to live. Sadly, most people have reached these conclusions when many species have died and many humans have suffered the effects of the environmental catastrophe. However, there is one community that has always taught its children to preserve the environment and love and care for every living species. This community is the Jewish one.
Thanks to the set of religious beliefs that link the Jewish culture to the creation of the universe and place the human race at the center of God’s creation, Jews have always been able to understand the importance of caring for nature and life. The main concept at the core of every believe related to the environment for Jews is that God created the universe and only God has the right to destroy it.
There are many important ideas that Jews teach from one generation to another as a way of living a fulfilling life. Most people can adopt the ideas that have any type of environmental implications and use them to preserve the environment and care for every living species.
In this article, Yosef Meystel will share some of the Jewish beliefs towards environmental preservation and the relationship humans shall have with their surroundings.
The Universe was created by God and it is good
Humans are only a tiny part of God’s creation and God is entitled to modify its creation as it pleases. We don’t have the right to destroy it or modify it in a way that may have a negative impact on others. We need to realize that we don’t have unrestricted freedom to modify God’s creation. Therefore, we should take care of it responsibly and think about the generations to come, which will also need a healthy place to live and allow our species to remain.
On the other hand, God created a universe that was good for humans to exist. It is sufficient, ordered and structured in a way we can obtain everything we need from it in order to have a healthy life. This universe should remain harmonious and serve God’s Order of Creation which goes beyond human understanding.
Only Humans Have the Power to Disrupt God’s Creation
God created humans based on its own image. This means humans have a special role to play in God’s creation. They are the only species who could disrupt Creation and control it as they pleased. For Jews, God created humans so they could take care of its creation and preserve it instead of destroying it.
Humans were gifted with some of God’s characteristics like free will, freedom, and life. These characteristics give humans power and conciseness to preserve Creation, therefore to preserve the environment and its balance since it is morally sensitive to human mistakes and attacks.
The Torah Talks about God’s Creation and we Shall use it right
The Torah is the book revealed to humans by God and it is the one in charge of teaching Jews about Creation. The Torah helps Jews understand they need to preserve every living thing since all beings are connected to the rhythms of the earth and have a powerful role to play in God’s Creation.
A wasteful consumption of anything is prohibited by the Torah. When we waste resources we are violating the commandment of God that claims we should not destroy its Creation. Jews believe we should all use natural resources in order to have healthy and fulfilling lives, but not to reduce God’s Creation to our shallow purposes. Many Rabbis teach that everything we own belongs to God, therefore we should take care of it and love it because only God is entitled to destroy it.
The Torah not only serves as the book that teaches Jews about how God Created the Universe, it also teaches that Jewish laws forbid Jews from harming life, whether it is animals, vegetal or human. Also, the Torah talks about the right way to dispose of waste and that industrial production must be kept away from human houses and shelter so it won’t affect its health. Based on these teachings, Jews know that any waste material coming from any industry needs to be disposed of in a way it doesn’t negatively affect Creation. Therefore, we should all be cautious with the chemicals and other materials we use that can affect the environment.
Overall the teachings of the Torah there is one that becomes relevant in terms of protecting the environment and it is the love for life. This teaching allows Jews to understand that life must be respected and consumption of resources needs to be sustainable. That way you won’t kill the bird’s mother at the same time you kill the bird to eat. You will respect their life cycle and understand that it is up to your hands to cultivate or destroy life on this planet.
* Featured Image courtesy of Lawrence OP at Flickr.com