MembersJewish Views on Climate Change

Long before modern science had anything to say on the topic, Jewish sages were debating environmental protections

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Jewish Wisdom for the Everyday Man
What does Judaism have to say on climate change? Surprisingly, a lot.
Photo: Chen Leopold/Flash90

Part 2 in Jewish Wisdom for the Everyday Man: a “guide for the perplexed” through the modern maze of morality from ancient Jewish Sages.

More and more people are concerned about climate change, global warming, air pollution and threats to our environment.


The Sages on Ecology

Thousands of years ago, long before ecology became a concern, ancient Jewish sages discussed at length the questions and problems concerning the environment. They point to the first suggestion that mankind needs to think hard about our relationship with nature right from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1:28, where we are commanded to “fill the earth and subdue it.” 

Nachmanides (1194–1270), commonly known as the Ramban, one of Judaism leading Sephardic rabbinic experts, interpreted this verse to mean that G-d gave the earth for the needs of man to “do as they wish.” One of his examples includes digging up and stripping a copper mine, but just in case this sounded like a...

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