Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ecology and the Jewish Spirit Where Nature & the Sacred Meet

Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature & the Sacred Meet, edited by Ellen Bernstein, is an interesting if somewhat uneven collection of essays about the intersection of Judaism and the modern ecological movement.

For readers very familiar with the source texts often used in Jewish ecology there is little new in this book.  You will read the famous Torah injunction not to destroy the fruit trees of your enemies in war, even if the wood is required to win the battle, very many times.  

By far the more useful portions of this collection are from scholars who take parts of the rabbinical tradition, those books of the Talmud which deal with agriculture and the waste of resources, and expand and transform them for our time.

That is the true work of Rabbinical Judaism: the constant reformation of laws, rules and customs to fit the times.   

When Bernstein presents essays of this sort, this collection provides the reader with some provocative ideas.   When she does not, the collection is uneven and not in the least groundbreaking.

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