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Appreciation, not Exploitation

Rabbi Grossman and Rabbi Stern make several excellent and practical suggestions for cutting down pollution and lowering demand for non-renewable sources of energy. In addition to these important measures, I also encourage us to strive to cultivate a relationship of respect and wonder with the natural world so we can come to regard it as something worth enjoying and protecting, and not just as yet an additional area in our lives to feel guilty about.

The medieval kabbalists created an elaborate seder for Tu B’Shevat modeled on the more familiar Passover seder, which included the eating of various fruits and nuts and the drinking of four cups of wine. They did this because they saw the natural world and its cycles as a tangible manifestation of God’s power and goodness; as we come to know and appreciate the divine within the natural world, we can come to better know and appreciate the divine within ourselves.

So this Tu B’Shevat, by all means follow the excellent ecological advice of Rabbi Grossman and Rabbi Stern. But also hold a Tu B’Shevat seder–many excellent examples are online (including one here from COEJL). Do activities designed to appreciate the beauty of nature: Go for a bike ride, garden, take a hike, look at Ansel Adams photographs, or even watch a nature video on the Discovery channel–anything to reconnect with the power and splendor of the natural world. Cultivate an awareness of the wonder that lurks just behind the everyday and that leads us to a relationship with nature based on appreciation, not exploitation.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel observed in his masterpiece “God in Search of Man”: “Human beings have indeed become primarily tool-making animals, and the world is now a gigantic tool box for the satisfaction of their needs… It is when nature is sensed as mystery and grandeur that it calls upon us to look beyond it.”

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posted February 1, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Our Commander-in-Chief, George Bush asserts that Global warming does not exist. Are you challenging our Commander-in-Chief?

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Patrick Nowak

posted February 2, 2007 at 12:17 am

Global warming may or may not exist but to think is caused or can be modified by the human race is utter nonsense. Bush did not say there was no global warming, and you are deliberately misquoting him to advance your socialist/communist agenda.

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Tzvi McCloud

posted February 2, 2007 at 1:44 am

The funny thing is that if you read the hebrew from Torah, G-d man man to “assist” in the act of creation, and in taking care of the earth. If you look further, one sees that the female entity was created for man, as man was created by G-D. As it says:”Let us make a ‘helpmate” for him. Unlike the Christians/greeks who translated the helpmate of Adam, as “eve”(from where we get the word “evil”) The hebrew is rather specific, in calling the second entity “Chava”(Friend). Maybe we need to re-examine how we will look at OUR role in the universe, how we are going to assist in creation, or if we are going to become the destroyers?

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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted February 4, 2007 at 2:17 am

To ignore the potential for humanity to destroy itself along with creation is quite dangerous. I will not say it is nonsense. But, I will say that humanity has an awful chutzpah, arrogance, and pride! There are many lessons in the Torah that all of humanity can learn from. I feel we should all start with Genesis, and we should look closely at the responsiblity humankind was given as caretakers of this earth. Also, there is much to be learned from Native American wisdom about caring for the earth. Shalom!

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Patrick Nowak

posted February 5, 2007 at 5:51 pm

Global warming is absolute nonsense. Temps have gone up in the last 125 years? So bloody what? We humans have been here for 200,000 years and the world for millions of years and based on the last hundred years you’re drawing “learned” conclusions. What hubris!

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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted February 5, 2007 at 6:23 pm

What fallacies! And what about the Code of Conduct established here, eh? Humans existed but not within the context and content that is present in this day and age. Mankind did not live in concrete jungles! I suggest reading “Gods in the Global City,” and researching into primitive and Neolithic cultures/religion. A few helpful links:

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