Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The E word

Tu Bshvat..Happy Birthday trees
Full of beautiful memories
On a fig.nose scrunched..turned head
Wishing God had chosen oranges instead

In honor of Tu Bshvat I will write about one of Frum Judiasms favorite topics..the Environment.

This is a topic I’ve always been attracted to and been concerned about.
I would love eating at peoples homes in Yeshiva and I’d bring up global warming and the melting arctic ice caps and watch my hosts react as if I just professed my faith in Jesus.

Why is it that we are so skeptical and unconcerned?
As believers in Hashem we should want to protect this beautiful planet.

There are a few reasons for this in my humble opinion
A. The fact that the environment is generally touted by the Left Wing we tend to say the environment in the same breath as abortion and gay marriage.
While that might be true, it is also true that the Right Wing gets most of it's support from the very industrialists that gain from all those pollution spewing factories.
However, as the evidence mounts even those in the Center and Right are coming around and realizing the disaster we face by indiscriminate pollution.

B. There have been some a few posts lately noting the fact that frum people are so afraid of dogs. I think it's part of a larger phenomenon. For reasons I won't discuss here, we have become an Uber Urban people, totally disconnected from land and nature.
We run from animals..screech at bugs...dash from one air conditioned bubble to gardners to plant matching petunias...
We've created this artificial existence and are completely disconnected from nature.

When was the last time you'’ve felt...
The sweet breeze coming in from an open window while you're in bed.
The feel of moist soil on your hands as you bury a sapling in the ground.
Picking fresh dill for your soup marveling at the miracle of growth.
Walked barefoot on a thick lawn of grass..
Filled a bird feeder and then watched as birds of yellow, red, blue come eat from your food..

The natural world is a concept..far removed from our reality and so it's hard to love something so abstract.

Ki HaAdam Etz Hasadah..
We are connected so profoundly with the world.
Our souls under the Kisei Hakavod encompass the entire natural world.
Our bodies are from the earth and will one day return...

There'’s not much one individual can do to effect the environment.
But the first step is awareness.

Being connected to this beautiful place we call earth.


Blogger anonym00kie said...

i never connected to this holiday- actually i should say i never learned anything interesting relating to this holiday and youve just changed that.
youre so right about this attitude and i never understood it, but its such a breath of fresh air to find someone who loves torah and trees :)
beautiful :)

February 01, 2007 4:38 PM  
Blogger anonym00kie said...

but david.. why are they/we like that?
in the movie the Believer, they talk about jews being the poeple of the book, the poeple of ideas, the abstract. a wandering poeple, no land of their own, no land to work, not grounded, always floating.. i wonder if its related to that, the fact that we are so much more attached to the abstract, and the fact that we seem to be very disconnected from nature .. hmm interesting food for thought :)

February 01, 2007 4:45 PM  
Blogger rebeccabeth said...

Firstly, I agree with mookie- all week I was wondering what Tu B'Shvat really means to me- I didn't come up with much. This is great! And I could not agree more. Sadly enough, I have always pointed out and been disturbed by the fact that (in my opinion) the "frummer" the neighbourhood, the dirtier and more unkempt it is!
Especially in Israel- hundreds of stacked apartments, few trees in sight and two dinky, sandy play-grounds..
Very beautifully written. I really appreciated it.

February 01, 2007 5:11 PM  
Blogger Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

You are so poetic, just reading your art on nature makes me feel like I'm in that special place. I hate the city.

I think the reason believers are so turned off by the Global Warming bahala is because Global warming suggests that the entire planet earth is at stake. That if WE, the people, don't take it into our own hands we should not think what could come of this place.

A believer doesn't feel like he is responsible for the survival of earth. You know that God won't send another flood if he promised to. You believe that there is a higher power that won't let the world drown in itself. You believe that you are not the one that has every string to the world in your hands.

That's how it became a left wing issue.

Doesn’t mean we have to go about wrecking the planet. After all, look what man has done to it (yes, I know you don’t like the city, but if you look at how technology transformed us we must appreciate it). It’s amazing how much we can manufacture out of nature. We just have to learn to balance having both…

February 01, 2007 8:42 PM  
Blogger megapixel said...

i myself am a tree lover.
cry whenever i hear that song "chop em down chop em down"

February 01, 2007 11:24 PM  
Blogger chaverah said...

I am so NOT for nature! I try and try but I'd rather be at the mall!

February 02, 2007 1:06 AM  
Blogger chana said...

Kudos to you! I agree on so many levels. Thank G-d, my parents raised us G-d fearing and nature loving - National Geographic was always a basic at home, and I fully intend to do the same with my own children. Farms are a favorite place of mine, and Yosemite is a dream vacation spot.

Though I think respecting our planet and taking care of the environment is important, I kind of agree with Shpitzle on the note that the fate of the human race and Earth are very much not in our hands. G-d has a plan. According to the Torah, the world was only created to last 6,000 years. Be connected to nature, look after the planet, but I believe being overly concerned with the politics of the issue is not necessary.

On the total opposite side of the coin, Global Warming is an interesting mashal for how each of our actions have global repercussions… how one small Mitzva can have cosmic effects… the Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that everything we encounter must serve as a lesson in avodas Hashem. Just a thought.

Keep inspiring people (me :) to think. I’m a serious fan of your blog!

February 02, 2007 1:07 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

I think B is a very logical explanation.
There is another explanation I think.
People who are devoted to the environment, pursue a ideal.
As frum Jews, we have daily pursuits already.
From davening, to finding time to learn etc.
Big environmental idealists, are often wealthy heirs who have no 'real' purpose in life.

February 02, 2007 4:27 AM  
Blogger the_laamb said...

trees are boring they grow they produce fruit yipee! There just a creation of Hashem which is interesting and to learn out things from

February 02, 2007 6:27 AM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Thanks...and yes I do love trees..
Although there are plenty of mystical reasons for this day..this is a

as for that observation..That makes sense...
I'll chew it ver..(with the fig)

You're so right. Its like you could tell...when you move from one nighborhood to the next.
But..t be Dal L'Kaf Zchus I'll say the the frum women are alot busier with homemaking/childrearing than the secular...and therefore have less time..
But thats no excuse for throwing papers on the floor..and letting a neighborhood look the way some of them do..

Thanks...I can relate..
As for your comment..
A. Hashem only promised not destroy the world himself..Here it's humans that are destroying it...and so that goes into the debate of can humans through the power of their free will effect the course of the world..which many seem to hold is true.
B. Global warming will not wipe out civilization..just severely alter it..with rising temperatures..rising coastlines..many more diseases and species extinctions (which by the way is the reason behind the prohibition of killing a parent and child animal on the same day according to many Rishonim)

lol..yea..tell that to the develepors in this town..

oh man..
at least youre honest..

February 02, 2007 9:17 AM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Thats wonderful that your parents raised you that way. I also grew up with National Geographic..and the like.
See my comment to Shpitzle...
Great lesson though..about how we all effect...the world..although spiritually we're far more powerful than that. There's not much one person can do in terms of global warming..
Hey..Just warning you..I dont work well under pressure..

Many bored celebrities have also taken up Hunger, Disease and Muscular Dystrophy..Doesnt lessen their importance..
I'm not saying we should be on Greenpeace boats in the ocean..Just saying we should be aware...of the problems..and support whatever needs to be done.

and one other little thing the trees give us...

February 02, 2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Only you can come up with this topic from Tu Bshvat! Very creative! I love the environment meaning appreciating scenary, trees, sunset...I still do not like dogs!!!Sorry David. Funny how you stuck dogs into this, you are so into frum jews not liking dogs, you must have had at least 5 posts including that ROFL!:)

February 02, 2007 11:07 AM  
Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

There are actually Issurei D’Oraysa involved with cutting down fruit trees for no pressing reason. Obviously the Torah doesn’t want us to ruin all nature.

February 02, 2007 3:35 PM  
Blogger ann said...

another great post... certainly thought provoking. Despite someone's comment about the frummer areas of Israel being somewhat dirtier and tree free, that is only one part. I'm sure given the choice those people would prefer to live in a leafier and greener environment... needs must.

However don't forget our never ending planting of trees in Israel.

Shabbat Shalom

February 02, 2007 6:35 PM  
Blogger The Dreamer said...

I'm not an environmentalist, but I do appreciate the beauty of G-d's world. Can spend hours watching the waves roll into shore. Same goes for examining the inner workings of a lemon.

Thanks for the beautiful post.

February 04, 2007 2:54 AM  
Blogger the only way i know said...

nothing eloquent to add... but to say I enjoyed the read.. and may I say a good chuckle!

February 04, 2007 4:56 AM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

I will not rest until you like


well if there truly was desire for that..then the builders/planners would design accordingly..

The dreamer....
I dont think I'm an environmentalist either...I'm not sure what ne has to do to become one..

Thanks...glad u liked!

February 04, 2007 10:39 AM  
Blogger It's All Good Now said...

I'm with TOWIK on this one. Nothing to add but enjoyed the read.

February 04, 2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger The Dreamer said...

Well, it doesn't sound like you're on any "save the world" committee, so I guess you aren't one.

Just to add to your post - As many of us live in cities, nature is a bit more difficult to come by. One dreads the snow because is soon turns into gray sludge. One dreads the grassy parks because they become slimy mud. One dreads th rain because it causes you to be late for work.
And there's nary a tree in sight.
And grass means a 2x2 patch of lawn.
And going barefoot outside means you're not tzanua.

February 04, 2007 11:17 AM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

hmm you always have something to

well then..I guess I'm not an environmentalist then...although everything is frun circles even talking about it..would make u one..
Youre so right about city life..which is exactly why I fled the city...

February 04, 2007 11:54 AM  
Blogger Bonnie B said...

I live in the country so fresh air and "nature" is rather mundane. The trick for me is keeping it fresh so I appreciate it everytime I drive up the canyon and see the rocky shadows and the tall pine trees. Lately what has made me crazy are the people who move here because they want to "get away from the city" and then proceed to bring the city with them because there waren't enough amenities. Do we really need a Wal-Mart and a shopping mall? I moved here to get away from boxes.

Anyway, my philosophy with the environment is that the individual has lots of power when it comes to this issue. We can start by cleaning up our own houses and neighborhoods, make them more energy efficient, pick up litter,carpool (or better yet walk). You can ultimately only comtrol yourself, so make the decisions that reflect the kind of person you want to be and the kind of world you want to live in.

February 04, 2007 12:45 PM  
Blogger kasamba said...

Can I be with all those who said they loved it???

February 04, 2007 4:46 PM  
Blogger knaidel maidel said...

David-- very nice point.

Dreamer-- I feel your pain. I am graduating college at least a semester later than I would have had to simply because I cannot stay tied to the city in the summer! Cheer up, though-- nature is still in sight. I can marvel at a glass of filtered city water for quite a while. And pesticided supermarket fruits still retain miracles. In fact, you even have a greater variety here. And there is something poignant and reassuring about watching nature quietly and firmly take a stand in the city, especially when you see that it's not just you but other city-people take notice.

Rebecca-- about the dirty frum neighborhoods: I'm getting two different messages-- first you say it's dirty and unkempt. That would make it seem that people are simply treating it irresponsibly. Then you mention the stacked apartments, few trees, and dinky playgrounds. Those are a direct result of the lower socioeconomic status held by most frum families in Israel, whether because of a higher number of children or because the father learns or works in a low paying field such as teaching. Israel is a tiny, poor country and their priorities can't afford to include big leafy trees. The population is very dense in the areas you're talking about, and they try to provide lots of affordable housing for the growing families. Also note that it is costly to maintain trees in public areas in Israel, because the climate is naturally arid. They're not going to waste water on trees except in the secular areas where people are willing to make other sacrifices ($$$)

February 04, 2007 6:20 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

That is certainly true that we can do individuals..But as individuals..we dont effect much.
Thin of the htousands of factories in China spewing black smoke day and night...

you just made the

I think rebeccas point is...that the designers of housing and developments design them to sell...and they know that to this group..these are simply no important..

February 04, 2007 7:56 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 04, 2007 7:56 PM  
Blogger Toby Katz said...

It would be better if people in crowded urban neighborhood were more careful about trashing their own neighborhoods. A few selfish litterbugs can make a whole neighborhood look seedy. But Yerushalayim still looks mainly beautiful to me. Of course it is a city. A city view is not a country view. Each has its own beauty.

As for global warming -- you are contemptuous of frummies who don't take global warming seriously, but the joke's on you.

Yes, you may know a bit more about the daily news and may have read a few newspapers and magazines than the frummies, but they instinctively know the truth: namely, that the whole global warming scare is baloney.

The real truth has to be ferreted out by highly educated people, through exceptionally wide reading and skeptical reflection, and this is the real truth: the global-warming scare is a politically hyped-up project that is based on an anti-American and anti-free enterprise ideology, and the actual science underlying it is thin and skimpy.

Yeah, yeah, the globe is a little warmer than it was a hundred years ago, but cooling and warming cycles have been going on forever. Such cycles track the sun's cycles far more closely than they track any human activity.

The same people who are so eager to wreck America's economy and take away other people's creature comforts tend not to worry too much about the environment themselves.

Al Gore wants you to drive a smaller car but he travels around the country on a private jet, which uses more oil on one trip than a dozen SUVs use in a year.

February 07, 2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

I'm glad that ur part of a fast shrinking minority in this world..

February 07, 2007 11:52 AM  

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