Surprising Jewish Quotes on the Environment

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Surprising Jewish Quotes on the Environment // jewishfoodhero.comJudaism and environmentalism often seem like two separate things. Environmentalism is often seen as a modern movement, which came into being because of the erosion of our natural resources, largely as a result of man’s overuse. But, actually, the Bible itself talks about the importance of appreciating and caring for the planet. And sages and scholars throughout the ages have added to these ideas, providing us with inspiration for doing our best to protect nature.

Here are some quotes from Jewish sources which support environmentalism to inform and inspire:

And the Lord took man and put him in the Garden of Eden, to tend it and guard it. – Genesis 2:15)

Genesis 2:15

One generation goes and another generation comes; but the earth remains forever. – Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:4

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:4

For in respect of the fate of man and the fate of beast, they have one and the same fate: as the one dies so dies the other; all share the same breath of life. – Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 3:19

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 3:19

If not for the trees, human life could not exist. -Midrash Sifre (Deuteronomy) 20:19

Midrash Sifre (Deuteronomy) 20:19Without earth, there is no rain, and without rain, the earth cannot endure, and without either, humanity cannot exist. – B’reshit (Genesis) Rabbah 13:3

B'reshit (Genesis) Rabbah 13:3

See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it. – Midrash Kohelet Rabbah, 1 on Ecclesiastes 7:13

Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 1 on Ecclesiastes 7:13

Whoever breaks vessels, or tears garments, or destroys a building, or clogs a well, or does away with food in a destructive manner violates the negative mitzvah, do not destroy or waste. – Kiddushin 32a

Kiddushin 32a

Once Honi was walking along the road when he saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi asked, ‘How long before it will bear fruit?’ The man answered, ‘seventy years.’ Honi asked, ‘Are you sure you will be here in seventy years to eat from its fruit? The man replied, ‘I found this world filled with carob trees. Just as my ancestors planted for me, so I will plant for my children.’ – Babylonian Talmud Taanit 23a

Babylonian Talmud Taanit 23aOn seeing creatures that are beautiful or exceptionally well-formed or goodly trees, one says, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe who has such as these in His world.” – Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Berakhot 10:13

Maimonides, M T, Berakhot 10:13

May all the foliage of the field awake at my coming, to send the power of their life into the words of my prayer, so that my prayer and speech are made whole through the spirit of all growing things. – Meditation of Reb Nahman of Bratslav

Reb Nahman of Bratslav

As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. We will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is not Alone, 1951

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. – Diary of Anne Frank

Diary of Anne Frank

The energy contained in nature, in the earth and its waters, in the atom and the sunshine will not avail us if we fail to activate the most precious vital energy: the moral-spiritual energy inherent in humankind. – David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion

There are three ways in which we may relate ourselves to the world – we may exploit it, we may enjoy it, we may accept it in awe. – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Abraham Joshua Heschel

My goal is for all to recognize that the earth is filled with the presence of God. If we remember this…we would fulfill the biblical imperative to be shomrei adamah, keepers of the earth. – Ellen Bernstein

Ellen Bernstein

Your turn: What are your favorite Jewish (or not) quotes about the environment?

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