In the Jewish tradition, there is a strong emphasis on the conservation and stewardship of the natural environment. The belief is that God created the world and entrusted it to humanity, and that humans have a moral responsibility to care for and protect it.
One of the key concepts in Jewish teachings regarding the environment is the concept of “bal tashchit,” which is derived from the Hebrew Bible and refers to the prohibition of wasteful destruction. This principle is applied to the natural world, and it is interpreted as a commandment to conserve natural resources and protect the environment.
The Torah, the foundation of Jewish law and belief, also provides specific guidance on environmental practices. For example, the Torah prohibits the cutting down of fruit trees during times of war, and it enjoins farmers to let the land lie fallow every seventh year, to give it a chance to rest and rejuvenate.
In addition to these biblical teachings, Jewish law also includes many other laws and guidelines for the protection of the environment. For instance, the Talmud, a collection of Jewish law and tradition, requires that animals be treated humanely and prohibits causing unnecessary pain to living creatures.
Jewish tradition also holds that human beings are to be in partnership with God in the ongoing creation of the world. In the Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition, the concept of Tikkun Olam – literally “repairing the world” – emphasizes the role of human beings in participating in the ongoing process of creation by working to heal and improve the world.
Jewish environmentalism has a strong tradition and it takes on different forms, from conservation and environmental activism to sustainable living and interfaith environmental coalition building. Today there are various Jewish organizations, such as Hazon, that promotes Jewish environmental education, and encourages individuals, synagogues, and Jewish communal organizations to make sustainable choices.
In conclusion, Jewish tradition places a strong emphasis on the conservation and stewardship of the natural environment. The concepts of “bal tashchit” and Tikkun Olam, as well as specific guidelines for the protection of the environment found in the Torah and Talmud are just some examples of how this tradition encourages the protection of the environment. Jewish environmentalism continues to evolve with the times, addressing contemporary environmental issues and promoting sustainable living