People in the local Publix already know me, the famous person that I am... I am the “no bags please person”. I am that crazy guy who would bring a bunch of Publix Green bags to avoid wrapping anything in plastic bags. Crazy because who wants to bother with bringing their own bags to do the shopping at a grocery store. In all honesty, I do see people bringing their own bags to Publix every once in a while but they are far and few in between.
Does that mean people do not care about Mother Earth? Of course they do. It’s just that in our busy life we have so many things to worry about that the welfare of Mother Earth is not regularly on our minds. Besides, with everything around us made of plastic and so little being recycled, does avoiding a few plastic bags really matter?
The “Save the Earth” advocates among us say that what creatures who lived on earth over hundreds of millions of years were unable to do, we humans managed to do in about 100 years or less. We have begun to put Mother Earth in a true existential threat. With our non degradable, often toxic materials dumped on Mother Earth by the tons every day all over the world, how long can we continue being nonchalant about it?
One of the most important Jewish principles taught by our sages over many centuries is based on recognizing the vulnerability of our Mother Earth. While generations ago there was not much toxic or non-degradable material to worry about, our sages did recognized the need to guardMother Earth from deteriorating.
That Jewish principle is called “Bal Tashchit”, which basically translates as “Be Careful Not to Destroy.” Judaism has always advocated that we are here on earth as a privilege. When our time comes to depart, we should leave Earth in as good condition or better than the way we found it.
Indeed, the ideas of “Tikun Olam,'' repairing the world, encompasses human relations as well as Human-Earth relations. The State of Israel is a shining example of this principle. Within a few decades of existence the Israelis have been turning a barren desert into a viable land growing fruits and vegetables on it. Israel leads the world in water conservation and recycling as well as reforestation on a large scale. Israeli scientists are working on ways to disintegrate plastic. Imagine being able to inject certain plastic consuming bacteria into thousands of landfills all over the world…
How is that for repairing the world?
This is what Tu B’Shvat, (Feb. 10th this year) the Jewish 3300 years old Arbor Day is all about. In fact, I believe Tu B’Shvat is a more important holiday now than ever before. It reminds us that we must be more aware of our Mother Earth’s welfare. It reminds us that doing the smallest thing for for the sake of our Earth should not be overlooked.
Besides, It’s a wonderful Mitzvah.
Plant a tree in Israel for Tu B’Shvat!
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