I don’t know if you saw the news article from the Washington Post on Wednesday, but there was a distressing article about the amount of trash washing up on remote islands these days. One beach alone, was littered with 414 million pieces of garbage—most of it plastic.
What are we doing to our planet? What are we doing to make it better?
The Torah itself wants us to take care of our home because it’s the only one we have. In the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden, God told Adam that the world was his to work and guard. This is not a coincidental use of words. From the very beginning, the Creator made clear that we are to make us of the planet, but we must also see to it that we do so in a responsible way. It needs to be healthy for generations to come.
Our weekly Torah portion, Behar, touches on this same theme. We are introduced to the laws of the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee. During the Sabbatical Year, field were supposed to lie fallow and trees and bushes untended. Does this sound like modern crop rotation techniques today? The Torah tells us that this would occur once every seven year; it is still observed in a modified way in Israel to this day.
We may not be able to observe the Sabbatical Year in the USA (and in fact the mitzvah only applies in the Land of Israel), but there is much more we can do to care for the planet. Remember: reduce, re-use and recycle. Your Mother Earth will appreciate it…and so will coming generations!