November 22, 2014 · 29 Cheshvan

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Jewish Values
Jewish tradition emphasizes many values that speak to our nation’s need for energy policies that are environmentally responsible and that pay due attention to the public health and safety of both present and future generations. Humankind has a solemn obligation to improve the world for future generations.

Jewish tradition emphasizes many values that speak to our nation’s need for energy policies that are environmentally responsible and that pay due attention to the public health and safety of both present and future generations. Humankind has a solemn obligation to improve the world for future generations. Addressing climate change requires us to learn how to live within the ecological limits of the earth so that we will not compromise the ecological or economic security of those who come after us. Genesis 2:15 emphasizes our responsibility to protect the integrity of the environment so that its diverse species, including humans, can thrive: “The human being was placed in the Garden of Eden to till it and to tend it.” Similarly, Jewish tradition teaches us that human domain over nature does not include a license to abuse the environment. The Talmudic concept bal tashchit, “do not destroy,” was developed by the rabbis into a universal doctrine that dramatically asserted God’s ownership of the land. Psalm 24 notes, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” From this basic concept it follows that any act of destruction is an offense against the property of God.

Energy policy must also be equitable and just, as the Torah commands, “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). The countries most responsible for climate change should be those most responsible for finding a solution to the problem. Judaism also underscores the moral imperative of protecting the poor and vulnerable: “When one loves righteousness and justice, the earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Eternal” (Psalms 33:5). Indeed, poor nations are likely to bear the brunt of the negative impacts associated with climate change.



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