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Plastic does not degenerate and is difficult to recycle. Given worlds enough and time, the planet will eventually be overrun by plastic. By Jonathan Rosenblum
Is worrying about such matters an indication of a mind addled by having seen too many exhibits at the Monterey Aquarium last summer of different species endangered by rampant pollution? Or are these legitimate Torah concerns?
The convenience of using plastic dishes are obvious. Plastic offers freedom from sinks brimming with unwashed dishes and fights about whose turn it is to wash the dishes. Against the convenience is the infinitesimal impact any change in our individual behavior would have absent similar changes by millions of others.
Here we come to an old problem in moral philosophy known as the Tragedy of the Commons. Let us say there are a variety of shepherds sharing a common grazing area. It is in the interest of each shepherd to increase the size of his herd. But if each shepherd follows that strategy the common grazing area will eventually be depleted bringing disaster to all.
Another example. The most rational strategy for an individual parent would be not to vaccinate his child to protect against the slight chance of serious adverse reaction. But that is true only so long as all other parents vaccinate. But if other parents make the same calculation, smallpox and whooping cough will soon return and pose a far greater threat to every child.
In short, if each person pursues his own rational short-term interest, the result can be long-term disaster for all.
Environmental consciousness is not yet high on the chareidi educational agenda. Part of the reason lies in the anti-human bias that permeates so much of the secular environmental movement and the nonsense perpetrated in the name of environmentalism. The United States is currently foregoing drilling for ten billion barrels of oil on .01% of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. It has chosen, at the behest of environmentalists, to send the money for those ten billion barrels money to foreign supporters of international terrorism rather than disturb a couple of moose.
And yet the Torah does charge us to be guardians of Hashem’s world: “When Hakadosh Boruch Hu created Adam HaRishon, He took him and showed him all the trees in Gan Eden and said to him: ‘See My works, how pleasant and beautiful they are… . Make sure that you do not ruin and destroy My world, for if you ruin it, no-one will repair it after you’” (Koheles Rabba, 91 .) A recent volume entitled Hasviva B’halacha Ve’machshava, published by the Sviva Yisrael organization demonstrates that environmental concerns are dealt with extensively in the halachic literature. The greatest of poskim wrestled with issues such as whether, and under what circumstances, it is permissible to cut down a tree. In the Chasam Sofer (II:120) we find a strong presumption in favor of preserving natural resources like trees, even if it means uprooting and replanting them elsewhere.
Apart from the pure halachic considerations, a serious consideration of the future consequences of our actions on the environment is part and parcel of a Torah worldview. As Torah Jews, who worry not only about the World to Come but about the world that we will leave to our children, our orientation is towards the future.
The late Rabbi Moshe Sherer liked to point out that the word metzachek, in the present tense, hints to the cardinal sins (Rashi to Bereishis 21:9). Yet the same root, in the future tense, forms the name of Yitzchak Avinu. Teaching our children to contemplate the future is thus part of instilling a proper Torah perspective.( Not by accident was UTJ’s Rabbi Moshe Gafni voted the most environmentally concerned MK.)
Environmental consciousness also makes us aware of the cumulative impact of many small acts for good or bad. When Sviva Israel makes its presentations in chareidi schools, the children are fascinated to learn what a large environmental “footprint” each of them leaves.
Learning to contemplate the cumulative effect of small actions has implications, both mundane and sublime.
Anyone who has ever worked their way out of overdraft or managed to lose five kilos will tell you that the process starts with dozens of little decisions –– withstanding an importunate teenager’s demand for a cell phone, cutting back on cigarettes, foregoing a bottle of soda for the Shabbos table, or washing dishes instead of using plastic.
And so it is with any improvement in our middos. Small actions are the key to personal transformation. Reaching into one’s pocket a thousand times in response to the outstretched hand, writes the Rambam, does more to turn a person into a giver than writing a single check for the same amount. In the same vein, the ba’alei mussar counsel that spiritual aliyah should take place in small, incremental steps rather than by leaps and bounds.
The key to how alive we are as Torah Jews is the significance that we attach to the most commonly repeated acts –– to every beracha and the most commonly performed mitzvah. As Rabbi Chaim Volozhin stresses, even the smallest actions hold the potential to open up pipelines of Divine blessing to the world or its opposite. We do not serve in order to receive a prize for ourselves, Rav Chaim writes (Ruach HaChaim I:3), but we do seek that each of our actions should open up conduits of blessing to the world.
Instilling in ourselves a consciousness of the significance of seemingly small actions, then, is part not only of natural ecology, but of our spiritual ecology as well.
Does this mean that the Rosenblum family will be giving up all plasticware? Not necessarily. As one of the contributors to Hasviva B’halacha Ve’machshava points out: Getting rid of plastic can be good for the environment but bad for your marriage. Still I hope that a few more dishes will get washed , being careful to turn off the tap between each dish, of course – even if I’m the one doing the washing.
Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2008/07/31/think-green/#ixzz1NxGFMHAh
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
Since the industrial revolution, people have become disconnected from the very life forces that sustain us. Rather than seeing ourselves as an intricate and essential part of life’s cycle, we believe that we have power over Earth’s ecosystems. As indicated by mounting scientific research from all corners of the globe, that approach is simply not sustainable, and our current way of living must be overhauled.
During the next century, as population doubles and resources available per person drop by one-half to three-fourths, humankind will have to drastically alter fundamental ways of thinking and operating in order to survive. The number one challenge that will face today’s children as they enter adulthood will be how to reconcile the impact of their daily lives with the limitations of our global ecosystems.
Green design is one of the ways we can limit our impact on the world’s systems.
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Chained to Work
A friend of mine was give an “irresistible” offer. He could “make a living” at his current place of work if only he worked a 70 hour work week for the next 6 to 12 months. Thankfully his place of work allows him to work as many hours as he would like so making that living wage is certainly doable.
The question of course is WHY? Why can it not be in Israeli society that a person could work, not say 40 hours, but lets say 45 or 50 and have time for his family, his kids, his/her spouse?
Now, please don’t get me wrong. No employer has a direct responsibility to allow his Israeli employees “make a living” Its not the employers fault that the Israeli economy is structured such that for the vast majority of working Israeli homes there is no such thing as a disposable income.
On the other hand though, no employer should take advantage of that fact either.`
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Sunday, October 28 – the 11th of Cheshvan – was the 3554th anniversary of Matriarch Rachel’s death.
Rachel, the beloved wife of the Patriarch Jacob died in childbirth. Jacob chose to bury his wife in Bethlehem rather than at the Patriarchs Tomb in Hebron because he foresaw that his descendants would pass this site during their exile into Babylon and that Rachel would pray for their safety and ultimate return.
For millennia, Jews have made pilgrimages to Rachel’s Tomb, considered the third holiest shrine in the Land of Israel. The site has absorbed countless tears of barren women beseeching G-d in the merit of Mother Rachel, who herself had been barren for many years. Jews have poured out their hearts there, praying for everything from world redemption to a suitable marriage-partner.
This year’s Yahrtzeit coincided with the Israel Defense Force’s entering of Bethlehem in an attempt to wipe out terrorist factions who have been regularly shooting at the surrounding Jewish neighborhoods.
Bullet-proof Egged buses were allocated for hopeful visitors, leaving Jerusalem for Rachel’s Tomb on an hourly basis on Saturday night, the eve of the Yahrtzeit, and throughout Sunday. In addition, the Gush Etzion Municipality volunteered its own bullet-proof buses on a half-hour basis. Though government officials were skeptical about whether the buses would be filled, thousands of Jews disabused them of their doubts. Saturday night, instead of stopping at midnight as scheduled, the buses continued transporting the steady tide of worshippers back and forth from Rachel’s Tomb up until 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning.
In 1995, Bethlehem was handed over to the Palestinian Authority. This resulted in many changes. A fortress was erected around the Tomb to protect Jewish worshippers from Arab snipers. Bullet-proof buses now pull up to the Tomb and discharge their passengers behind a concrete wall closing off the Bethlehem street from the Tomb. For the past seven years, two yeshivot have been established at Rachel’s Tomb, ensuring a continuous Jewish presence at this holy site.
When the current Intifada broke out last September, access to Rachel’s Tomb was denied. The Barak government seemed willing to relinquish the holy shrine as it had Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, after Palestinians destroyed holy books and turned the Tomb into a mosque. It was indeed a difficult and dangerous site to protect.
What was not taken into account, though, was the strong spirit of the People of Israel, who were simply unwilling to give up the holy place.
A group of Jewish women from Hebron set up a tent at the Gilo-Bethlehem junction, remaining there until the Tomb was reopened. Last year, shortly before Mother Rachel’s Yahrtzeit, a group of 20 women from Hebron, including grandmothers and mothers with babies in strollers, stood at the IDF barrier at the entrance to Bethlehem, with the intention of holding prayers there since they had been denied entrance to Rachel’s Tomb. The group decided to walk through the IDF guarded barrier and enter Bethlehem by foot and walk to Rachel’s Tomb. The guard was taken aback by the determination of these Jewish women.
“It took us a little over ten minutes to walk to Rachel’s Tomb”, says Shelly Karzan from Hebron. When we arrived there, an Israeli soldier was standing guard. ‘Shalom’, we said. ‘We are here to pray at Rachel’s Tomb’. The soldier rubbed his eyes in amazement and assumed that we must have received authorization to have gotten this far. He opened the door and we entered. We were greatly moved at the thought of actually being at the tomb when, for over a month, Jews had been denied entrance. Tearfully we prayed with the utmost devotion, imploring Mother Rachel to once again intercede and make the Land of Israel safe for her children.”
This incident, along with pressure from Jews around the world, had their desired effect, and entry to Rachel’s Tomb was officially granted. The holy site had been closed for forty one days. In Hebrew letters, the number forty one equals the word “eim,” or Mother.
This year, I joined the thousands of Jews who visited Rachel’s Tomb on her Yahrtzeit. On the bus was a mixture of men and women in Chassidic garb, North African women wearing colorful headcoverings, and residents from the neighboring settlements who regularly visit Rachel’s Tomb to help ensure Jewish presence at the site. After driving through a Bethlehem overrun with tanks and soldiers, we arrived at the Tomb. We quickly got off the bus and were ushered in by the IDF.
The Tomb was packed with people. I entered the women’s section of the shrine where Psalms and private prayers were being recited. Some of the women wailed out loud while others silently wept into their prayer books. The men’s section likewise reverberated with sounds of sobbing and prayer. Rachel’s resting place seems to evoke heartfelt tears.
” . . . lamentation, bitter weeping; Rachel weeps for her children;”
I left Rachel’s Tomb strengthened. The spirit of Am Yisrael is stronger than the harsh world outside the Tomb. Throughout the ages, Jews have come here to pray at the most difficult times. The thousands of Jews who chose to come on October 28 to commemorate Mother Rachel’s Yahrtzeit are proof of the continuity and determination of Am Yisrael, and a reaffirmation of our faith in our Jewish heritage.
“Thus says the Lord: Restrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from tears; your work shall have its reward, says the Lord; they shall return from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, says the Lord; the children shall return to their land.” – Jeremiah, chapter 31.”
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During the SS St. Louis Jerusalem reunion, Fuld said that he was getting calls from his nervous daughters in New Jersey to come home. His answer was simple and to the point: “My ship has finally docked in Israel. I see a country which is determined to defend its people. I again reminded my daughters that if Israel had existed in 1939, every passenger on the SS St. Louis would have been saved.
This year, just before Holocaust Remembrance day, I had the honor to meet a group of survivors from the ill-fated SS St. Louis ship, which embarked from Hamburg on May 23rd, 1939 carrying close to one thousand Jewish refugees seeking a safe haven from the hellish nightmare erupting in Europe. This year – yes this year – the SS St Louis survivors decided to hold their “reunion” in Jerusalem, at the Mount Zion Hotel, at a time when groups like the US Holocaust Council Board and the March of the Living delegation hesitated to come anywhere near Israel’s shores.
Each of the SS St. Louis passengers carried a visa to Cuba, yet they were nevertheless denied entry there. The United States and Canada also turned away the human cargo, which included families with small children. The ship sailed the seas for three weeks, desperately seeking a country that would give them asylum. For five days, the SS St. Louis sailed along the sea shore of Florida. Yet, nobody wanted the Jews. Instead, the ship turned around and headed back towards Europe where they were granted temporary entrance into Belgium. Nearly half of the passengers of the St. Louis perished in the Holocaust.
The survivors who gathered in Jerusalem were men and women in their seventies. At the time of their voyage aboard the St. Louis they were small children. Some of them toddlers. Harry Fuld, now retired and living in Winsdor, New Jersey, whose father had been murdered a year before the fateful journey, on Kristallnacht, was ten years old when he boarded the ship with his mother and 13 year old brother. During the SS St. Louis Jerusalem reunion, Fuld said that he was getting calls from his nervous daughters in New Jersey to come home. His answer was simple and to the point: “My ship has finally docked in Israel. I see a country which is determined to defend its people. I again reminded my daughters that if Israel had existed in 1939, every passenger on the SS St. Louis would have been saved.”
The climate in the world of 2002 is reminiscent of the 1930′s in Germany. Once again, the Jews are being demonized as satans, devils, aggressors and racists. The daily diet of hatred and incitement pouring through the Palestinian schools and media and to the world at large has greatly escalated since the Oslo Accords in 1993. Yet the emergence of the Palestinian Arab human bombs coincided with the era of Israeli conciliation and peace making, recognition of the PLO, repeated concessions of territory, establishment of a nascent Palestine Authority, acceptance of armed Palestinian policemen – culminating in the unprecedented offer of an independent Palestinian state with a capital in a shared Jerusalem. In direct contrast to this most accommodating, conciliatory, most dovish Israeli policy, the Palestinian Arab people have responded with more than 12,000 recorded terrorist attacks over the past 18 months, against Israeli citizens and soldiers. There have been 435 murders of civilians, including babies, nursing mothers and pregnant women, and thousands of wounded. There is hardly a person in Israel who has not been directly or indirectly effected by the Palestinian terror. Meanwhile, the suicide bombers dispatched by the Palestinian Authority were hailed by Arafat as holy martyrs and the Palestinian Authority controlled media sang hymns of praise for the human bombs. Their families were interviewed on PA TV and stated how proud they were of their suicide bomber offspring. Now, Israel has finally concluded that Arafat has no interest in stopping the terror that emanates from the Palestinian Authority. Instead, Arafat calls for a million martyrs to pave the way with blood to Jerusalem.
In the early days of the Oslo process, as in the early days of Nazi Germany, Jewish leaders said that these were “only words”. Yet, the massive suicide bombing which killed 27 Israelis and wounded over one hundred at a communal Passover seder in Netanya this year was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who survived a concentration camp as a child, spent the better part of the Passover holiday in search of one Moslem cleric who would denounce the Passover Pogrom. Rabbi Lau took to the airwaves on the night after Passover to announce to the people of Israel that no Moslem would come forward to denounce the murder of Jewish families who sat down to a ritual ceremony.
As Rabbi Lau was speaking, an Arab infiltrated the Jewish community of Elon Moreh and murdered four members of the Gavish family -the parents, Rachel and David Gavish, their 25 year old married son Abraham, and Rachel’s father, Isaac. This was the same Elon Moreh where God had promised the Patriarch Abraham that the Jewish people will inherit the Land of Israel.
Na’ama Gavish, whose husband Abraham died later of wounds from this attack, teaches about the Holocaust at the local high school. Na?ama described what it was like hiding under the kitchen table while forcibly closing the mouth of her three year old daughter so that she wouldn’t make a sound. “I thought of the Holocaust”, she said, “From under the table I was able to see the dead body of our grandfather.” While the Gavish family and the Elon Moreh community counted their dead, the Palestinian Authority organized celebrations in the nearby village of Ascar, the town of the killer who had afflicted Elon Moreh.
Pressure mounts around the world to stop Israel. Violent demonstrations against Israel are being held all over the Islamic world, but not only in the Islamic world. Yet, there is a difference between the 1930′s and today. The Jews today have a Jewish state, created after the Holocaust, that gives protection to every Jew in the world. Israel is committed to the safety of its citizens.
The SS St. Louis finally docked in Jerusalem this week. Something that it could not do a generation ago.
Sara Bedein is a writer and translator who lives with her husband David and their six children in Efrat, Israel.
by Sara Bedein
Posted by admin under Green Charity
What’s “green” home? Well, its about energy efficiency, reduced construction materials, resilience and perhaps most importantly, attitude, or better yet, a way of life. This dome shaped home has all of these and more:
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Completing the Puzzle
“If we waited for poverty, disease, and social ills to be rectified before venturing out, we’d still be in caves”
Some tough words to swallow but this line from an article in the Jerusalem Post yesterday have much truth in them. To be honest, I do not agree at all with most if not all of the article, but the fact remains that if society, and each and every one of us as individuals does not see the need to be in a mode of constant progress, we are in trouble. Innovation, “progress”, investment in the financial growth of the world are THE FOUNDATIONS of bringing human suffering to an end.
Well, I guess the place to start would be to ask, what is Tzedakah? As we have pointed out, and cited many times before in the is blog, “Tzedakah” is not only about donating money. No!. Its about a lot more.
Tzedakah includes good deeds, free loans, emotional support, and a lot more. (And yes, also giving “money”). The n=bottom line is that its about relieving others of their pain. No, not in a medical way, though assisting waith that is also a big part of Tzedakah. Its about relieving people of their worries. Their struggles.
So where does “green” fit into all this. Where’s the environment’s place in the world of charity?
THE ANSWER IS that its in the area of second hand goods. From clothes to furniture and appliances to cars. The moment someone is ready to part with that old sofa, those old clothes, that used, but good refrigerator, there is always someone who is in need of just such items and can’t always afford to buy new.
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Tzedakah or Ṣ’daqah in Classical Hebrew (Hebrew: צדקה; Arabic: صدقة) is a Hebrew word commonly translated as charity, though it is based on the Hebrew word (צדק, tzedek) meaning righteousness, fairness or justice. In Judaism, tzedakah refers to the religious obligation to perform charity, and philanthropic acts, which Judaism emphasises are important parts of living a spiritual life; Maimonides says that, while the second highest form of tzedakah is to anonymously give donations to unknown recipients, the highest form is to give a gift, loan, or partnership that will result in the recipient supporting himself instead of living upon others. Unlike philanthropy, which is completely voluntary, tzedakah is seen as a religious obligation, which must be performed regardless of financial standing, and must even be performed by poor people; tzedakah is considered to be one of the three main acts that can annul a less than favorable heavenly decree.
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Karmey Chesed is active in avoiding waste and preserving our global environment! We relay donated items, appliances and furniture to the needy, thus avoiding unnecessary waste, trash and preserving our global resources. Our activities also ensure that the needy are not compelled to purchase new electrical items, which create added pollution in our atmosphere. Just another reason to donate to Karmey Chesed! Lots of people talk about ‘being green,’ but we do it!
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