Jewish tradition teaches us to care for our waterways to preserve that which God has created.
If we were to walk in the woods and a spring appeared just when we became thirsty, we would call it a miracle. And if on a second walk, if we became thirsty at just that point again, and again the spring appeared, we would remark on the coincidence. But if that spring were there always, we would take it for granted and cease to notice it. Yet is that not more miraculous still?
-Baal Shem Tov, 18th Century Hasidic Leader
Water has played a role in virtually every major story in the bible. Isaac’s wife was chosen for him at a well. The baby Moses was saved after floating down a river. The Israelites were freed when the red sea parted. Miriam will forever be remembering by her gift of water to the Jewish people in the desert. The history of the Jewish people is the history of our relationship with water.
Jewish tradition teaches us to care for our waterways -- to preserve that which God has created. The rabbis developed the principle of Bal Tashchit (do not destroy), which forbids needless destruction. Rather, we are encouraged "l'vadah ul'shamrah," to till and to tend, to become the Earth's stewards.
Water has always been an important part of this relationship. In Isaiah 41:17-18, God promises: "I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water." In other words we were given our waters as a loan from God and we should work to preserve them for this reason. As the psalm states, “The earth is the lord’s and all its fullness” (24.1).