Think Green

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14 Responses

  1. sarah shapiro says:

    I so aprecaite having this subject redefined from a Torah perspective.

  2. Dov says:

    Very interesting. Many other mekoros not mentioned in the article, but presumably mentioned in the book, e.g. cutting down trees during seige.

    Does anyone know where HaSviva be’Halacha ve’Machshava is available?

  3. Bob Miller says:

    Thermoplastics are generally recyclable.

  4. Jewish Observer says:

    “the Torah does charge us to be guardians of Hashem’s world”

    – while I agree with the general message, this seems like a mitzvah sichlis. If we frumsters would think of ourselves as citizen of the world, we should natually consider the practical effects of our ecological abuse. Only those so self centered as to not realize the effects of his actions need a formal “mitxvah” to tell him to be a mentch. this should not be any more necessary than to teach a baal habayis the “mitzvah” of taking out the garbage.

  5. Charles B. Hall says:

    “The most rational strategy for an individual parent would be not to vaccinate his child to protect against the slight chance of serious adverse reaction.”

    I most strongly disagree. Unfortunately, there have recently been outbreaks of measles in frum communities; the adverse consequences of failure to vaccinate are now far more common than the extremely rare serious adverse events attributable to vaccination. People have no idea how unbeliveably contagious is measles.

  6. mb says:

    “Plastic does not degenerate and is difficult to recycle. Given worlds enough and time, the planet will eventually be overrun by plastic.”

    Probably not correct. Plastic is a new substance and the microbes haven’t found a way to feed on it and then it would disitegrate. An example of that is trees. For millions of years trees were not eaten by microbes and eventually got compressed into oil and coal. Blame the microbes for the higher oil price!
    Anyway, eventually they will get to plastic.

  7. A.S.Pardeshi says:

    * Rather than throwing them away, give plastic toys or containers to children’s scrap stores or playgroups for reuse.
    * Use plastic containers and bags again or make them into something else. For example use yoghurt pots to grow seedlings, use the top part of drinks bottles as cloches for plants and offer clean plastic carrier bags to charity shops.
    * Buy products that are refillable.
    * Think of ways of reducing the need for packaging. Don’t add extra packaging yourself – a melon, a grapefruit or a bunch of bananas already has natural packaging – does it need to go in a plastic bag as well as your shopping bag, and does that already efficiently packaged dairy product or piece of meat really need another wrapper?
    * Ask your local authority recycling officers which materials are currently collected or may be collected in the future.
    * Look for products, e.g. bin liners and refuse sacks, made from recycled plastic, now available in many supermarkets. Also look out for products packaged in at least partially recycled material. For example, Shell Oil’s 1 litre and 4 litre Helix oil packs now contain a proportion of recycled plastic, collected from domestic and industrial waste.
    * If it does not already run one, suggest to your local authority that it considers starting a plastics recycling scheme. The development of market opportunities has meant that at the moment demand is outstripping supply of plastic bottles, so new initiatives are needed to feed the process and ensure its success.
    * Encourage your local authority to buy products, such as street furniture, made from recycled plastic rather than wood.

  8. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    Charles Hall makes an important point re: measles. I was thinking primarily about the vaccines of my long-ago youth: smallpox and whooping cough. Even in the short-run measles is different, if only because everyone else is not vaccinating. The outbreaks of measles can and should be prevented.

  9. dz says:

    “And yet the Torah does charge us to be guardians of Hashem’s world: “When Hakadosh Boruch Hu created Adam HaRishon, He took him and showed him all the trees in Gan Eden and said to him: ‘See My works, how pleasant and beautiful they are… . Make sure that you do not ruin and destroy My world, for if you ruin it, no-one will repair it after you’” (Koheles Rabba)”

    The Ramcha”l in Mesillas Yesharim Chapter 1 understands this Midrash quite differently – with almost the opposite message than was suggested by you. In his explanation of man’s duty in this world and of the constant “battle” for spiritual growth in which man finds himself, Ramcha”l writes, “If you look more deeply into the matter, you will see that the world was created for man’s use. In truth, man is the center of a great balance. For if he is pulled after the world and is drawn further from his Creator, he is damaged, and he damages the world with him. And if he rules over himself and unites himself with his Creator, and uses the world only to aid him in the service of his Creator, he is uplifted and the world itself is uplifted with him. For all creatures are greatly uplifted when they serve the “Whole Man,” who is sanctified with the holiness of the Blessed One. ….. Our Sages of blessed memory drew our attention to this principle in Midrash Koheleth, where they said (Koheleth Rabbah 7:28) – ‘See the work of God…’ (Ecclesiastes 7:13). When the Holy One Blessed be He created Adam, He took him and caused him to pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden. He said to him, `See how beautiful and praiseworthy are my works; and all that I have created, I have created for your sake. Take heed that you do not damage and destroy my world.’ ”
    The Ramcha”l seems to understand the Midrash as saying that the way to take care of Hashem’s world is by only using the physical world and the environment as an aid in the service of Hashem. Whereas one who uses the world for his own selfish desires and strays from the path of Torah and Mitzvos is destroying the environment.
    Apparently the best thing we can do for the environment – instead of focusing directly on global warming, greenhouses gases etc. – is to follow the Path of the Just and be the best Jews we can be …. and then the world will be just fine.

  10. Evonne Marzouk says:

    An organization named Canfei Nesharim (“the wings of eagles”) has been exploring what the Torah can teach about the importance of protecting the environment. The leaders are frum and the content is all from a Torah perspective. For more information on Torah teachings related to the environment, visit

  11. Evonne Marzouk says:

    An organization named Canfei Nesharim (“the wings of eagles”) has been exploring what the Torah can teach about the importance of protecting the environment. The organization’s leaders are frum and the content is all from a Torah perspective. For more information on Torah teachings related to the environment, visit

  12. Moshe Hillson says:

    On the other hand, water is also becoming a scarce resource, especially here in Israel. Is there a way of calculating the ecological price of each of the two options (plastic dishes vs washing dishes under a tap with a “water saver” device)? The variables include: How much energy is input to the water works vs the plastic factory, short-term acute emergency (water in Israel) vs long-term disaster that will be difficult to solve (plastic landfills), etc.

  13. DF says:

    Environmental ideals are just peachy fine. The problem with them is that the ideals inevitably lead to laws, which lead to lawyers, which lead to government agencies and higher taxes, which lead to litigation, which leads to decreased prodcutivity and jobs going overseas – which leads us to where we are now.

    If someone personally chooses to beleive his washing a glass rather than using a plastic cup will make a difference on the planet – sei gesund. Just dont bother me about it.

  14. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    Rabbi Rosenblum makes a good point about how situations in medicine change. The last case of smallpox in the world was in 1979; it is no longer necessary to vaccinate anyone for smallpox. We could do the same for measles; because it has no known animal reservoir and either infection or vaccination usually results in lifetime immunity, it could be wiped out completely. But with rapid international travel it is unfortunately possible for an outbreak to spread very quickly and we have recently seen this; an outbreak in New York was linked by investigators to an outbreak in Isreal. Those who do not vaccinate are putting many others at risk including children too young to be vaccinated, and requiring the continuation of vaccination programs for another generation.

    Pertussus is more complex because neither infection nor vaccination guarantees lifetime immunity. The type of pertussus vaccine that was in use during my (and probably Rabbi Rosenblum’s) youth had an unsatisfactorily high incidence of severe adverse events and many persons naturally steered clear of the vaccine. Note that this is very different from the now debunked alleged association of vaccinations with autism; the assocation of the “whole cell” pertussus vaccine and serious neurological side effects, while small, was real. Fortunately, a newer form of the vaccine, the “acellular” vaccine, was developed because of these problems. It is very safe and can be given to most people. In most developed countries, only the safer vaccine is used although the older cheaper “whole cell” vaccine is still used in many poor countries. Only the acellular vaccine is currently used in the United States. (Can anyone report on the situation in Israel?) I was personally re-vaccinated for pertussus within the past year when I had my doctor administer the combination “DTaP” vaccine.

    Pertussus remains a serious public health problem, with hundreds of thousands of attributable deaths worldwide each year. Everyone should be vaccinated with the newer acellular vaccine unless there are contraindications particular to that individual.

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