The Religious School’s Jewish Value for January is Teva (nature). The concept of Teva begins in the Torah in Bereishit (Genesis) when God creates the world and everything in it. According to the Torah, “God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch it.” That’s our first clue that the land is not ours. We are guardians of the earth, but we do not own it. We are merely borrowers.
According to the rabbis (Shulkan Aruch), borrowers may use any part of what they borrow, but they must leave the property at least as valuable as it was when they first started using it. So when we use the earth and its resources, we must make sure it is equally valuable to future generations. This means that we must protect the environment.
We don’t just protect the earth – a healthy earth protects us. You might be surprised by how much our rabbis knew about environmental effects hundred of years ago. For example, the great teacher Maimonides, who was also a doctor, saw the effects that a bad environment could have on human health and he suggested ways to fix the environment in his Treatise on Asthma. Rabbi Yitzhak ben Sheshet in the early 14th century wrote about noise pollution and its effects on people who lived in noisy cities.
Our job today is to protect our environment to make sure that it stays healthy and valuable for future generations. It is not an easy job to ensure that we have clean air and water, that animals have safe habitats to live in, and that we act against global warming. We may not be 100% successful in creating a healthy planet, but we still have to try. What are some ways that we can protect the Earth?
Laura Naide, Lifelong Girl Scout!
Director of Religious Education