A Jews Responsibility to the Environment: Nature Vs. Human

Published: 2021-09-14 00:55:08
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A Jews Responsibility to the Environment: Nature vs. Human
Does Judaism address the relationship between persons and nature? Yes, the question is not whether Judaism addresses this issue, but what precisely it is that the Jewish tradition teaches. From common concepts, we know that in the Jewish religion Nature and Humans have respect for each other by following the bible. The challenge ahead of us is the common challenge of science and religion together, such as to discover and implement the means of assuring the physical survival of humanity on Earth and assuring the spiritual survival of a more humble and more modest humanity on this, G-d's earth.
The framework for Judaism's teachings on the environment emerges from the dynamic tension between two verses at the beginning of Genesis. In Genesis 1:28, G-d blesses the newly created humans, "...Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it; have dominion over...every living thing...." This apparent grant of absolute power is a basis for the extraordinary assertion that the Bible was at fault for human exploitation of nature. In Genesis 2:15, G-d takes the newly created human,"... and placed him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate it and to guard it." This verse imposes upon humans a stewardship relationship to the world in which they live.
First off, the human's right to exploit nature is severely circumscribed in the Bible. For example, one of the most essential religious institutions of Jewish civilization is the Sabbath. The central character of the Jewish Sabbath is prohibition against melacha, which is usually translated as "work", on the Sabbath day. Jewish tradition insists that the notion of melacha does not relate to the physical effort expended and to the creative result of the behavior. Rather, the Rabbis insist, the prohibition is addressed to the attempt to prevent the productive transformation of objects, whether natural or man-made. Therefore, while it may be permissible to rearrange the furniture within one's home, it would not be permissible to turn on a light switch or drive a car, etc. The point is that the essence of the prohibition against melacha on Shabbat is to teach us that the productive manipulation of the environment is not an absolute right.

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