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January 25, 1991 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


, Rabbi Says Judaism
Balances Ecology, Jobs



Staff Writer


he "Central Corpora-
tion," one of the area's
largest employers,
wants to expand its facility.
The expansion plans_ would
destroy trees and block the
flow of a stream, but it would
also provide 60 temporary
construction jobs and per-
manent work for 100
Should the environment be
preserved or are jobs more
important, Rabbi David
Feder of Temple Emanu-El
asked six people attending a
Jan. 17 lunch and learn at
the United Hebrew School
building to discuss Judaic
views on the environment.
And even though the
"Central Corporation" is not
a real company, the issues of
development as it concerns
the environment are very
Often those who believe it
is a man's right to rule over
earth as he sees fit point to
chapter one of Genesis with
its use of the word "master,"
Rabbi Feder said.
"God blessed them and
God said to them, 'Be fertile
and increase, fill the earth
and master it; and rule the
fish of the sea, the birds of
the sky and all the living
things that creep on the ear-
th,' " he quoted.

The issues of
Or development are
very real.

But he believes the verse
"is historically understood
as having limited rule. We
can rule over the land, but
there are limits to the au-
thority you have. If we rule
unjustly, we will descend to
the level of fish, birds and
the beasts," Rabbi Feder
Even in war, according to a
Deuteronomy verse, trees
must not be destroyed, Rabbi
Feder said. The verse is ex-
tended to include any
amount of needless waste in-
cluding throwing away
paper plates and styrofoam
cups, he said.
Yet, Jewish sources don't
ignore the importance of
economic considerations.
According to 16th century
Turkish Rabbi Shlomo
Cohen, a textile factory
which caused smoke and bad
odors had the right to exist
because it provided the main

1 1

JANUARY 25-26-27

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Rabbi Feder:
Jobs vs. Ecology?

livelih000d of the town,
Rabbi Feder said.
"It is a conflict between
two conflicting interests —
the community's needs
verses the need for trees,"
Rabbi Feder said. "I think
the Jewish response, or what
I hope would be the Jewish
response, comes from the
last of the texts. In my eyes
there is no doubt what the
proper response is," said
Rabbi Feder, before reading
aloud from a text written
150 years ago by Jewish
scholar Samson Raphael
Hirsch called "Respecting
All Being as God's Property.
"Only if you use the things
around you for wise human
purposes, sanctified by the
word of My teaching, only
then are you a man and have
the right over them which I
have given you as a man,"
the text states. "However, if
you destroy, if you ruin — at
that moment you are not a
man, you are an animal and
have no right to the things
around you. I lent them to
you for wise use only; never
forget I lent them to you."
Man must do "what he can
to protect the earth," Rabbi
Feder said. "The world is our
responsibility. There isn't
going to be anyone after us
to clean up the mess."
Although the "Central
Corporation's" expansion
would be of economic benefit
to the city, such benefits
should not come at the ex-
pense of the environment, he
"I think we must do what
we can to protect the envi-
ronment. Our job is to make
sure what we have gets
passed on to the next ge-


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