Diamond who was ordained and earned an M.S. degree in Rabbinics
at Yeshiva University, is Assistant Professor of Talmud at the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America, where he received his doctorate. He is
currently completing a book on fasting and asceticism in the Jewish
tradition, and has taught a course on environmentalism and Jewish law at
the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Abstract of paper given at
Judaism and Ecology conference:
Defining acceptable limits for pollution can be difficult, particularly in the case of pollution sources that are more esthetic and psychological nuisances than they are health hazard or threats to the ecosystem. Legal systems dealing with this question must choose between flexible guidelines that are influenced by the personal tolerance levels of the disputants or setting down firm standards that apply to all. In my paper I show that while halakhists consider both options they come down on the side of using conventional rather than personal standards. I then show that this same question arises in contemporary Israeli and American environmental law, and I suggest ways in which the principle of conventional standards might be applied to some of the difficult environmental challenges facing us at present.