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Judaism Introduction - Part 2



In the Bible, claims Rosenberg, ethics stands in opposition to the natural world. In rabbinic Judaism a more subtle view emerges in the context of recognizing the stability of nature, on the one hand, and the ability of humans to learn from the ways animals conduct themselves, on the other. In medieval philosophy one finds extensive discussion of the natural world as well as of human nature, which the philosophers identified with rationality. The philosophers articulated a teleological natural morality, where nature is established as a means to reach the unique goals of man. Most instructively, Rosenberg shows that the medieval philosophers regarded the Torah itself as natural law, because it is the Torah that “brings one to perfection.” The inherent identity between Torah and nature was challenged by the sixteenth-century Jewish theologian R. Judah Loew of Prague (c. 1525–1609), for whom “morality rises beyond nature” and acts of loving kindness surpass nature. In kabbalah, Rosenberg correctly states, “reality becomes a language. Nature is transformed into a symbol of the divine.” The relationship between Torah (and hence morality) and the natural world is ambiguous in kabbalah. For some kabbalists the Torah stands for nature, whereas for others the Torah is the paradigm of nature. Of the modern thinkers who reflected on the relationship between morality and nature, Rosenberg singles out Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808–1888), the founder of Neo-Orthodoxy in Germany, and shows that in Hirsch’s analysis of the commandments nature “is not only a model for us in its fulfilling law . . . [I]t places on humans its own demands, its own mitzvot [commandments].” Rosenberg concludes that human obligations toward nature include not only respect for nature, but also the specific commandments that are detailed in the Bible. These commandments specify the boundaries within which humans should interact with the natural world.

A different and novel attempt to articulate Jewish ecological philosophy is offered by Lenn E. Goodman within the matrix of “an ontological theory of justice.”28 In such a theory, all things that exist are good and their intrinsic value is the foundation of their deserts. Goodman’s point of departure is the intrinsic deserts of animals, plants, and eco-niches that flow from the particular “project” of each thing. Using Spinoza’s language, Goodman refers to this project as “conatus,”29 and claims that this is the basis of human respect for “all beings—to the extent possible.” Goodman admits that this theory is a form of naturalism, but he denies that it is a form of materialism. Instead, Goodman shows that his hierarchical theory of deserts can be derived from the language of the Bible as elaborated by rabbinic sources. Good-man successfully demonstrates that the Bible and rabbinic sources recognized the inherent deserts of animals or the human obligation to alleviate the suffering of an animal. The command to be compassionate toward animals affirms both human superiority over other animals as well as human responsibility toward nature. Good-man’s ecological ethics exemplifies the notion of human stewardship of nature,30 even though Goodman explicitly rejects vegetarianism, in contrast to Rosenberg who endorses it.31 Goodman does not explain how the killing of animals for the sake of human consumption is compatible with recognizing the inherent value and desert of the killed animals. Likewise, he does not account for the fact, noted by both Fishbane and Rosenberg, that destruction is integral to nature and that species naturally engage other species in a struggle for survival.

Some of the issues left open by Goodman are addressed by Moshe Sokol. He begins by rejecting Steven Schwarzschild and Michael Wyschogrod, who highlight the opposition between Judaism and nature. Such a claim, Sokol avers, is simply incoherent because “Judaism cannot disapprove of trees and grass.” He maintains that it is more accurate to say that “the Bible and rabbinic Judaism objected to certain conceptions of nature but not to nature’s constituents.” In agreement with Rosenberg, Sokol notes that the category “nature” is a human construct that has changed over time. If one is to explain the presumed conflict between Jews and the natural world, one must turn to the sociology of the Jews as urban people to find the proper explanation. Sokol differentiates between two questions: 1) what are Jewish constructions of nature and how do they relate to each other? and 2) what, if any, are the implications of the varying constructions of nature for developing a useful environmental ethics? The first question is addressed by Shalom Rosenberg in this volume. Sokol attempts to answer the second question.

Sokol’s main concern is to explore dominant paradigms about the relationship between God and the world and to ponder whether they can be used as a foundation for a Jewish ecological ethics. He differentiates between the “transcendist position,” whose main exponent is Maimonides, and the “immanentist view,” represented by kabbalah and Hasidism. Sokol shows that one cannot simplistically equate either of these views with a given ethical implication or recommendation in regard to the natural world. Respect toward the natural world is not a necessary outcome of an immanentist outlook, as is commonly argued, since respect for nature is specifically stated by Maimonides, the advocate of the transcendist position. Conversely, Hasidism, which has served as inspiration for contemporary Jewish environmentalists, cannot be said to be more “green” than its opposition, either in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries or today. Sokol then examines three models for the relationship between morality and nature—“environmental anthropocentrism,” “environmental biocentrism,” and “environmental theocentrism”—and shows what is problematic about each of them and why none of them could tell us how to treat the natural world.

Sokol’s original contribution to Jewish ecological reflections is the suggestion that we should shift our focus from an ecological ethics of duty toward nature to an ecological ethics of virtue. Environmental virtue ethics will include “a deep sense of humility, not only individually but species-wide; the capacity for gratitude; the capacity to experience awe and sublimity; the virtues of temperance, continence, and respectfulness, among others.” The data for the desired character traits of the environmentally virtuous person could come from the very sources of the Jewish tradition, both halakhic and homiletic.

In his response, Barry S. Kogan’s exposes Goodman’s indebtedness to medieval Neoplatonic ontology and questions Goodman’s attempt to ascribe rights of persons to nonhumans, especially after a century that has seen the catastrophic results of the failure to respect human life as such as sacred. Kogan finds Rosenberg’s reading of Hirsch more attractive because “the study of ecology, the policy implications that follow from its findings, and the practical intent of the huqqim, as explained by Hirsch, would all be religiously mandated.” As for Sokol, Kogan challenges his misrepresentation of Schwarzschild and Wyschogrod. While Kogan agrees that theology that emphasizes transcendence does not necessarily desacralize the world and that those that highlight immanence do not necessarily culminate in unqualified reverence and awe toward all things natural, Kogan challenges Sokol’s overly schematic classifications of Jewish approaches to nature.


Nature in Jewish Mysticism

The complexity of Jewish approaches to nature is manifested most acutely in the Jewish mystical tradition. The essays in this section prob-lematize any attempt to anchor Jewish theology of nature in kabbalah. Neither kabbalah nor its eighteenth-century offshoot, Hasidism, accepted the natural world as a given that must be preserved and hallowed. In both cases, the corporeality of the natural, especially as manifested in the human body, is viewed either as a veil that hides the truly spiritual, namely, God, or as a negative obstacle that prevents the human from attaining unity with God. To the mystic, who claims to possess knowledge of the linguistic foundation of nature, the world of nature is a symbol of divine reality that has to be decoded and thereby either spiritualized or transcended. Nature is not to be celebrated for its own sake.

Elliot R. Wolfson shows that the key to the kabbalistic approach to nature lies in the claim that nature is a mirror of the divine. This is not a mere metaphor but a metaphysical claim about the very structure of reality. In kabbalah, as Wolfson succinctly states, “the ten resplendent emanations (sefirot), which make up the divine pleroma, are the archetypal spiritual beings that function as the formal causes for all that exists in the physical universe.” For the kabbalists, there is “one ultimate reality, the divine light, which manifests itself in the garb of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet that derive, in turn, from the four-letter name, YHWH, the root word of all language, the mystical secret of the Torah.” The corporeal world that we perceive through the senses is by no means ultimate reality. Rather, “the corporeal world reflects the spiritual forms in the manner that a mirror reflects images. Just as the image is not what is real but only its appearance, so nature is naught but the representation of that which is real.”

Wolfson argues that kabbalistic ontology cannot be labeled as either “pantheism” or “immanentism,” as is commonly done, because kabbalah harbored competing pantheistic and theistic views. Most importantly, Wolfson explains that the kabbalists were not interested in the natural world encountered outdoors, but in the mysterious, esoteric events within the Godhead that are ultimately manifested in the physical environment. What matters to kabbalah is not nature itself— which functions as a veil of divine reality—but the act of penetrating the hidden nature of God. Wolfson then moves on to show that the poetics of nature as the mirror of God is heavily genderized. Nature is identified with the Female, the Shekhinah, but “she is no more than the looking glass that reflects what is genuinely real, the masculine image, which is attributed more specifically to the phallic gradation,” Tife’eret. Wolfson’s careful unmasking of the androcentric nature of kabbalistic symbolism undermines any attempt to use kabbalah in order to recover the lost Goddess. Wolfson concludes by showing the connection between the kabbalistic, spiritualist ontology and the ascetic practices and makes it patently clear that the kabbalists were not only de facto remote from the natural world, but that they denied that the natural world as we know it is holy.

Kabbalah, especially as developed in the Land of Israel during the sixteenth century, was the ideational basis of Hasidism. Indeed, it was Hasidism, as popularized by Martin Buber, which brought kabbalah to the knowledge of the Western world and to the attention of the environmental movement.32 In Buber’s representation, Hasidism articulated a positive attitude toward nature, since the I-Thou relationship could be had not only with persons but also with trees and animals. Buber’s rendering of Hasidism was vehemently criticized by Ger-shom Scholem and Rivkah Schatz-Uffenheimer. Jerome (Yehudah) Gellman revisits the critique and further endorses it on the basis of a close reading of those very sources that Buber claimed to have used. Defending himself against his critics, Buber admitted that his reconstruction of Hasidic theology and practice cannot be derived from the teachings of the founder of Hasidism, R. Israel Baal Shem Tov (known as the Besht) (1698–1760), but from the teachings of his disciple, R. Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye, and his disciples. By analyzing the texts that Buber used in his reconstruction of Hasidism, Gellman shows that Buber ascribed to his Hasidic authors views that they did not in fact hold. Gellman concludes that neither Buber’s portrayal of Hasidism nor Hasidism itself could serve as a foundation of Jewish ecological theology.

Gellman’s skepticism about Hasidism is further corroborated by Shaul Magid, who focuses on the works of the Besht’s grandson, R. Nahman of Bratslav (1772–1810). R. Nahman wrote homiletical discourses and symbolic tales. In the former, the attitude of the Hasidic master to the natural world is “exclusively pejorative.” Magid explains that for R. Nahman “nature is not identical with the natural world.” Instead, “nature” (teva) is a human construct on the basis of our perception. Nature is deceptive because it “appears perfect . . . in its stability and predictability.” This appearance “is actually the source of its imperfection.” In contrast to “nature,” R. Nahman posited the “world” (‘olam), a term that is used to “refer to the natural world in a constant state of renewal” from its divine source. It is “unstable, dynamic, and unpredictable.” When we perceive the stability of nature, we actually sever the natural world from its divine creative source. In his homiletical discourses, then, R. Nahman placed nature in “diametrical opposition to miracle and divine providence.” The symbolic tales of R. Nahman, however, reveal a more tolerant attitude toward nature, enabling humanity to live simultaneously within and apart from its external environment. On the basis of a close reading of R. Nahman’s last tale, “The Seven Beggars,” Magid uncovers a view of nature that enables humanity to co-exist with nature but not be part of it.

In her response to the three presenters on the Jewish mystical tradition, Hava Tirosh-Samuelson further problematizes the kabbalistic approach to nature. The notion that nature is a mirror of the divine actually gave rise to two different attitudes toward nature. According to one, the corporeality of nature was to be transcended through kabbalistic sanctifying acts. According to the other, the belief that kabbalah contains the knowledge of the linguistic foundation of the natural world led to a proto-experimental approach to nature, characteristic of so-called practical kabbalah. Tirosh-Samuelson agrees with Gellman and Magid that eighteenth-century Hasidism could not serve as the basis of environmental theology, since its application of the rabbinic sanctification of nature through observance of divine commandments leads to spiritualization, and hence, annihilation of the empirical world.


From Speculation to Action
The rich Jewish tradition, this volume demonstrates, can support a deep respect toward nature that translates into human stewardship of nature. In the twentieth century the Jewish thinker who reconfigured the relationship between God and natural world most elaborately was Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972). Edward E. Kaplan presents Heschel’s “depth theology” of the caring God who “calls for human beings actively to redeem [the world].” Approaching the Bible, not as “human theology but as God’s anthropology,” Heschel’s point of departure was the notion of wonder or radical amazement, which Schwartz has also discussed in this volume in support of his own environmental sensibilities. Kaplan explains how Heschel’s writings were designed to enable the reader to shed or question all habitual ways of thinking, and gradually to begin “to perceive the world as ‘an allusion’ to God, as an object of divine concern.” While Heschel’s outlook was rooted in kabbalah and Hasidism, he used the kabbalistic notion of “allusion” to reawaken in Jews the reverence toward nature. Reinterpreting the Jewish tradition, Kaplan shows, Heschel instructed twentieth-century Jews to develop the notion of “kinship with the visible cosmos” and to grasp the reciprocal relationship between God and the world. The world is the object of God’s concern or love. Heschel presented a vision of interrelatedness of humans, other beings, and God, and emphasized human responsibility to God, “who is both within and beyond nature and civilization.” Kaplan, along with Eilon Schwartz, correctly views Heschel as a major ecological Jewish thinker whose theology could inspire sound environmental policies.

Translating Jewish ecological reflection into action is by no means a simple matter. The volume concludes with essays by Tsvi Blanchard and Mark X. Jacobs that reflect on the challenges to Jewish environmental activism. Blanchard notes the tension between the secular nature of the environmental discourse and Jewish religious commitments. Before Jews could join the environmental discourse, it has been important to realize three things. First, even if Jewish sources harbor a certain conception of the natural world, they did not imagine the ecological situation we face today. It is not self-evident that the solution to the environmental crisis could be found in the traditional Jewish sources. Second, Jews were never in a position to formulate policies for the society at large, but only for their own communities. Third, the ecological movement regards the Bible very critically as the source of a negative attitude toward nature that gave rise to destructive policies. Blanchard proposes a way to overcome these difficulties by focusing on select Talmudic sources that blend religious and secular aspects. This model, he claims, would enable Jews to join the general environmental discourse and to speak as committed Jews. Blanchard shows that the rabbis considered human action and were attentive to scientific information, implying that there is room within the religious tradition itself to consider nondivine aspects. He illustrates how the rabbis considered intentional modifications of the environment and the harmful side effects of improper positioning of certain substances. Like Diamond, Blanchard invites Jews and non-Jews to grasp the general principles of Jewish legal sources and to realize how they can be applied to very practical issues that confront the environmental movement. He concludes that “analysis of the Jewish material might help in drafting possible policy strategies as well as in framing the key questions to be asked and answered.”

The volume concludes with Mark X. Jacobs’s overview of the Jewish environmental movement, its history, accomplishments, and challenges. There is no doubt that the movement has succeeded in raising the awareness of Jews about environmental and ecological matters. The movement has also added a significant Jewish presence to other faith communities in the United States which are deeply concerned about the environmental crisis. However, Jacobs admits that the leadership of the Jewish community lacks passionate commitment to environmentalism and that the very affluence of Jews in North America militates against it. Jacobs voices concern over the tension between the Jewish environmentalists, who are motivated by deep religious insights, and the “relative weak role of Judaism in the lives of American Jews.” Thus, contemporary Jews rather than Judaism are the obstacle to a vital Jewish environmentalism.


Conclusion
This volume intends to contribute to the nascent discourse on Judaism and ecology by clarifying diverse conceptions of nature in Jewish sources and by using the insights of Judaism to formulate a constructive Jewish theology of nature. Given the complexity of the Jewish tradition, it is impossible to generalize about Judaism and ecology. Some voices within Judaism are compatible with contemporary environmentalism, and others are either in direct conflict with it or manifest uneasiness about it. Thus, one voice expresses a deep respect for the natural world created by God that is translated into obligations to protect the natural world from human abuse. This voice is rooted in the view that the human is but a steward of God’s earth and is totally compatible with conservationist policies. Another voice within Judaism highlights the opposition between the human and the natural. Only humans can receive and respond to divine obligations “to be holy as I the Lord am holy,” and only humans can transform the natural world through prescribed acts that sanctify the natural. From this perspective any attempt to identify nature with God is a form of idolatry that Judaism is determined to eradicate. And finally, there is the voice that denies reality to the natural world. The natural world, the world that is accessible to us through the senses, is but a mirror of a divine, noncorporeal reality. Created in the image of God, human beings are most capable of transcending their natural veil, and to fathom or penetrate the ultimate reality beyond the veil. However one interprets this idea, it leads to negative attitudes toward nature, be they indifference, suppression, or manipulation of nature. In short, whatever stance one wishes to highlight results in a different understanding of Judaism vis-à-vis the natural world.

Generalizing about Judaism and ecology is also difficult because Jews today do not agree about the meaning of Judaism. Not only is Judaism defined in both religious and secular terms—and the gulf between religionists and secularists grows ever deeper—religiously committed Jews do not agree about the meaning of the foundational tenets of Judaism or the way of life that should flow from them. Whether one considers the sources of Judaism to be normative, compelling, suggestive, or troubling shapes how one treats what Judaism has to say about environmental matters. This volume respects pluralism in contemporary Judaism and does not seek to impose unanimity and consensus. Yet, precisely because the volume includes thinkers of all branches of contemporary Judaism, it implicitly argues that the current ecological crisis is indeed a Jewish issue. I will go even further and say that because Jews have faced the threat of extinction on account of radically evil, human acts, Jews have a distinctive vantage point from which to speak against the destruction that humans now inflict on God’s creation. If Jews stand in covenantal relationship, and are called to mend the world, Jews cannot ignore ecological matters in the name of more pressing social issues. To protect God’s world from further abuse by humans is a Jewish moral obligation.

As Jews become more ecologically aware, however, Jewish thinkers will have to become more familiar with the contemporary environmental discourse and its nuances debated among deep ecology, social ecology, political ecology, ecofeminism, and conservationism.33 Each of these perspectives has a different understanding of the place of the human in the order of things and the attitudes toward nature that flows from it. A future reflection by Jewish thinkers on ecological matters will also require a deeper immersion in contemporary science, especially the sciences of physics, cosmology, the life sciences, and the cognitive sciences. To speak theologically and philosophically about the desired relationship between humans and the natural world requires holding informed views about the natural world. A Jewish discourse on ecology is thus inseparable from the so-called dialogue of science and religion, in which the Jewish voice is still underrepresented. When Jews enter the dialogue of science and religious dialogue in greater number, they will affirm what medieval Jewish philosophers have taken for granted: since God is truth, there can be no conflict between what is true in science and what is true in Judaism.

As Jews become more conversant with this literature and, hopefully, environmentalists become more informed about Judaism, it may become clear not only how Judaism is compatible with conservationism, but also where Judaism conflicts with the radical activism of Earth First! or with the metaphysical claims of deep ecology. Conversely, as the conversation between Judaism and ecology develops, it might question a strict secularist approach to being Jewish. Judaism is a religious civilization and the sources of Judaism are all religious sources. To speak about environmentalism from a Jewish perspective entails a religious outlook. The volume cannot tell Jews how to define the meaning of being Jewish for themselves. It only charts the issues that must concern anyone who takes Judaism and ecology seriously.



Endnotes
1 The extensive ecological literature cannot be cited here. For readers unfamiliar with it, a good introduction is provided in Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory, ed. Carolyn Merchant (Atlantic Highlands, N. J.: Humanities Press, 1994). A quick perusal of this volume bears my point: environmentalism has had little or nothing to do with Judaism.
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2 Lynn White, Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155 (1967): 1203–1207.
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3 That Arthur Waskow, a Jewish environmental thinker and activist, had to make the case for Jewish involvement in environmentalism in the 1990s attests to the relative limited interest in this topic in the organized Jewish community. See Arthur Waskow, “Is the Earth a Jewish Issue?” Tikkun 7, no. 5 (1992): 35–37.
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4 For further discussion of this point among contemporary Jewish thinkers, consult Eilon Schwartz, “Judaism and Nature: Theological and Moral Issues to Consider while Renegotiating a Jewish Relationship to the Natural World,” in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Martin D. Yaffe (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2001), 297–308.
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5 This position is explained most succinctly by Michael Wyschogrod, “Judaism and the Sanctification of Nature,” Melton Journal 24 (spring 1991): 5–6; reprinted in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Yaffe, 289–96. Most modern Orthodox thinkers share this viewpoint.
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6 See Steven S. Schwarzschild, “The Unnatural Jew,” Environmental Ethics 6 (1984): 347–62. This essay elicited a serious debate and some serious criticism. See Jeanne Kay, “Comments on the Unnatural Jew,” Environmental Ethics 7 (1985): 189–91, reprinted in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Yaffe, 286–88; and David Ehrenfeld and Joan G. Ehrenfeld, “Some Thoughts on Nature and Judaism,” Environmental Ethics 7 (1985): 93–95, reprinted in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Yaffe, 283–85. The debate is discussed in Martin D. Yaffe’s introduction to his volume.
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7 See Eric Katz, “Nature’s Healing Power, the Holocaust and the Environmental Crisis,” Judaism: A Quarterly Journal 46 (1997): 79–89; reprinted in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Yaffe, 309–20.
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8 It is true that Zionism included religious positions as well. For the religious Zionists the return to the land was understood in terms of being able to perform the land-based commandments of Judaism and thus coming closer to God. For an overview of the function of the land in Zionist thought, consult Arnold M. Eisen, “Off Center: The Concept of the Land of Israel in Modern Jewish Thought,” in The Land of Israel: Jewish Perspectives, ed. Lawrence A. Hoffman (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986), 263–96.
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9 The main ideologue of Socialist Zionism who provided the rationale for the Jewish return to nature was Aharon David Gordon (1856–1922). For analysis of Gordon’s philosophy, see Eliezer Schweid, The Land of Israel: National Home or Land of Destiny, trans. Deborah Greniman (Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985); idem, The Individual: The World of A. D. Gordon (in Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1970).
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10 It is instructive to note that Zionism regarded the purchase of land from Arabs as “redemption of land” (ge’ulat ha-qarqa), thus framing a secular activity in religious terms. See Ge’ulat ha-Qarqa be-’Eretz Israel Ra‘aion u-Ma‘aseh, ed. Ruth Kark (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi Publication, 1990). I thank Dr. Ada Schein for directing me to this book.
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11 The kibbutzim, the agricultural settlements created by Socialist Zionism, were most creative in developing new rituals for the Jewish festivals. While rooted in the Jewish tradition, these innovative rituals all celebrated the seasonal cycle of nature and the fertility of the land, but they did not refer to God and did not seek justification in rabbinic sources.
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12 See Susan H. Lees, The Political Ecology of the Water Crisis in Israel (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1998); Water and Peace in the Middle East, ed. Jad Isaac and Hillel Shuval (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1994); and Miriam Lowi, Water and Power: The Politics of a Scarce Resource in the Jordan River Basin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
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13 For an overview of Israel’s environmental perils and the activities of the environmental movement, see Alon Tal, “An Imperiled Promised Land,” in Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought, ed. Arthur Waskow, 2 vols. (Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000), 2:42–71.
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14 The works of Nogah Hareuveni, listed in the bibliography of this volume, are typical examples of this trend.
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15 For responses by modern Orthodox thinkers to White’s charges, see Norman Lamm, “Ecology in Jewish Law and Theology,” in his Faith and Doubt: Studies in Traditional Jewish Thought (New York: Ktav, 1972), 162–85; Jonathan Helfand, “Ecology and the Jewish Tradition: A Postscript,” Judaism 20 (1971): 330–35; idem, “‘Consider the Work of G-d’: Jewish Sources for Conservation Ethics,” in Liturgical Foundations of Social Policy in the Catholic and Jewish Traditions, ed. Daniel F. Polish and Eugene J. Fisher (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), 134–48; idem, “The Earth Is the Lord’s: Judaism and Environmental Ethics,” in Religion and Environmental Crisis, ed. Eugene C. Hargrove (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1986), 38–52; Aryeh Carmell, “Judaism and the Quality of the Environment,” in Challenge: Torah Views and Science and Its Problems, ed. Aryeh Carmell and Cyril Domb (London and Jerusalem: Feldeim Publishers, 1976), 500–25.
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16 The rise of Jewish interest in environmental issues reflects in part a growing realization that the ecological crisis is a religious issue and that world religions have been crucial to the shaping of human attitudes toward the physical environment. The emergence of a religious ecological discourse during the 1970s and 1980s was concomitant with the flourishing Religious Studies as an academic discipline committed to the comparative study of world religions. Typical examples of comparative religious ecological discourse in which Judaism is represented are Spirit and Nature: Why the Environment Is a Religious Issue, ed. Steven C. Rockefeller and John C. Elder (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992); and Worldviews and Ecology, ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John A. Grim (Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1993; reprint, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1996).
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17 The organization was associated with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, and its main activity was to publish educational material. The materials are available in Judaism and Ecology, 1970–1986: A Sourcebook of Readings, ed. Marc Swetlitz (Wyncote: Shomrei Adamah, 1990).
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18 A representative sample of Jewish environmental writings in America is Ecology and the Jewish Spirit, ed. Ellen Bernstein (Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998).
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19 For an overview of these themes, consult the essays in Judaism and Ecology, ed. Aubrey Rose (London: Cassell, 1992).
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20 For a succinct expression of the covenantal model for Jewish ecology, see Bradley Shavit Artson, “Our Covenant with Stones: A Jewish Ecology of Earth,” Conservative Judaism 44, no. 1 (1991): 25–35; reprinted in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Yaffe, 161–71.
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21 For an overview of the relevant sources, consult Torah of the Earth, ed. Waskow, 1:212–14, which includes information about Jewish organizations committed to environmentalism.
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22 Michael Wyschogrod, “The Sanctification of Nature in Judaism,” in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Yaffe, 294.
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23 On Deep Ecology, consult Deep Ecology for the Twenty-first Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism, ed. George Sessions (Boston and London: Shambhala, 1995). In many respects, however, there is quite an overlap between Green’s reflections and the views of deep ecology. The reason for it is historical. Many of the insights of deep ecology, especially as outlined by Arne Naess, are indebted to the philosophy of Spinoza, who was, in turn, familiar with kabbalah.
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24 Eisenberg’s reading is in accord with the consensus among developmental anthropologists who believe that toolmaking is the determining mark of homo sapiens. For a summary of the debates among anthropologists, consult Ian Tattersall, The Fossil Trail: How We Know What We Think We Know about Human Evolution (New York: Oxford University, 1995).
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25 A main concern of the environmental justice movement is the dumping of toxic wastes in poor neighborhoods that are populated predominantly by African Americans. Environmental justice is thus commonly conflated with the accusation of racism and pertains as well to Mexican Americans and to Native Americans. See Robert Bullard, “Environmental Racism and the Environmental Justice Movement,” in Ecology, 254–65, and the literature cited there.
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26 Kraemer’s conclusion, as well as that of other contributors in this volume, accord with ecological thinking that highlights respect for nature. See Paul W. Taylor, “The Ethics of Respect for Nature,” in Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, ed. Michael Zimmerman et al. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1993), 71–86.
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27 Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “The Lonely Man of Faith,” Tradition 7 (1965): 5–67.

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28 See Lenn E. Goodman, On Justice: An Essay in Jewish Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991).
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29 For exposition of Spinoza’s theory, see Richard Mason, The God of Spinoza: A Philosophical Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 142–46.
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30 See David Ehrenfeld and Philip J. Bentley, “Judaism and the Practice of Stewardship,” Judaism: A Quarterly Journal 34 (1985): 301–11; reprinted in Judaism and Environmental Ethics, ed. Yaffe, 125–35.
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31 Whether Jews should be vegetarians is one of the themes of Jewish ecological discourse. For an overview, see Louis A. Berman, Vegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition (New York: Ktav, 1982).
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32 For an example of Buber’s influence on the contemporary ecological discourse, consult Brian J. Walsh, Marianne B. Karsh, and Nik Ansell, “Trees, Forestry, and the Responsiveness of Creation,” in This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment, ed. Roger S. Gottlieb (New York: Routledge, 1996), 423–35. The most influential aspect of Buber’s philosophy was his utopian communitarianism that envisioned “a cooperative world culture emerging out of regenerated regional cultures that arise in turn out of a regenerated human spirit”; see John Clark, “A Social Ecology,” in Environmental Philosophy, ed. Zimmerman et al., 419.
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33 An excellent anthology of environmental writings that presents the various schools of environmental thinking is Zimmerman’s volume cited above.
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Copyright © 2002 Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School.
Reprinted with permission