THE JEWISH NEWS
FEB. 7. 1992
To Jewish Living
Regaining Our Love Of Creation
By RABBI ARNIE SLEUTELBERG
Our Jewish heritage is rich with
references about the relationship
between humankind, the earth, and
God. The Torah as well as the rest
of Tanach, the Talmud,
Commentaries and wisdom literature
are replete with laws and parables
teaching us how to live
harmoniously with all of God's
creations. Many of these references
concern our relationships to animals
The rabbis knew well that
human survival was dependent on
all other species in God's world.
Many citations call on us to plant
trees. In fact, we are taught by
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai that "If
you are in the midst of planting
when word reaches you that the
Messiah has arrived, do not
interrupt your work; first finish your
planting, and only then go out to
welcome the Messiah."
Numerous other laws tell us
how to respect trees and never to
destroy them unless absolutely
necessary. Ecclesiastes Rabbah
7:28 teaches us: "In the hour when
the Holy One created the first
human being, God took the person
before all the trees of the Garden of
Eden, and said to the person: 'See
my works, how fine and excellent
they are! Now all that I have
created, for you have I created.
Think upon this, and do not corrupt
and desolate My world; for if you
corrupt it, there is no one to set it
right after you' "
Though we are taught that God
created the world for our use, the
land remains the possession of its
Creator. From a source unknown,
"Two people were once fighting
over a piece of land. Each claimed
ownership, and each bolstered the
claim with apparent proof-. After
arguing for a long time, they agreed
to resolve their conflict by putting
the case before a rabbi.
The rabbi sat as an arbitrator
Was 1 Asleep . . . Or What? Or
How I Became A Recycling Nut
By BETSY WINKELMAN
It didn't happen overnight, and
yes, I had been prOgrammed as a
kid not to waste and all that. I
remember my grandmother and
parents saying "lights cost money"
while trying to change the kids'
habits of leaving lights blazing and
unused throughout the house.
Although those were voices of
more frugal times, and they were
right, that's only part of the story.
We've learned lights cost more than
just money. Making all the electricity
to fill our society's insatiable
appetite has had some bad
environmental side effects.
Perhaps we need to control our
appetites and to look creatively at
developing "friendlier" sources of
power. By the time an American
becomes 75 years old she or he will
have used five times the world
average of electricity.
But back to my story — what
happened to me over the years? I
so easily fell in step with all those
"convenient" wasteful ways of living
of which we've all become
accustomed, until a special few
weeks several years ago. Our son
Steven was at home between
semesters at college, and life really
changed at our house. He went
around the house turning off lights
we weren't using. We couldn't throw
away ANYTHING. He would say, in
a voice reminiscent of my
childhood. "You can only throw —
and listened carefully, but despite
years of legal training, he could not
reach a decision. Both parties
seemed to be right. Finally the rabbi
said, "Since I cannot decide to
whom this land belongs, let's ask
The rabbi put an ear to the
ground, and after a moment stood
up. "My friends, the land says it
• •• ■■ •••
belongs to neither of you — but that
you belong to it."
So it is. We are but dust. The
land endures far beyond our own
days upon it. We, of course, did not
inherit the land from our parents.
We are borrowing it from our
Oftentimes we consider some
Continued on page L-2
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there is no away"
Oh boy, was it radical! Bringing
my own bags to the grocery to
REDUCE the number used.
Continued on Page L-2