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Judaism and nature: theological and moral issues to consider while renegotiating a Jewish relationship to the natural world.

Since the advent of the modern environmental movement some thirty years ago,(1) dozens of articles have been written exploring the relationship of Judaism and the environment, attempting to articulate a Jewish response to the environmental crisis.(2) Many of the articles came in the wake of the environmental movement's attack on the Judeo-Christian ethic, whose biblical injunction to "fill the earth and master it" was seen by many in the environmental movement to be the theological and ethical source for an anthropocentric and ultimately exploitative relationship to the natural world.(3)

Articles were also written to defend tradition, often by presenting Judaism's environmental credentials. Although translations of Jewish culture into terms acceptable to the larger cultural milieu have often sacrificed authentic Jewish perspectives at the altar of cultural relevance, in the case of Judaism and the environment it seemed as though no trade-off was necessary.(4) Finding "green" traditions within Jewish sources is not difficult. Such traditions are strongly anchored in normative Judaism. Bal taschchit, tzar baalei chayim, shnat Shemita, yishuv haaretz, to name a few of the Jewish value-concepts(5) most often quoted by environmentally concerned Jews, are all pointed to as representing authentic Jewish environmental perspectives.(6) As they are.

Still, the need to validate a Jewish environmental ethic, to show Judaism's credentials, as it were, stifled a true airing of Jewish positions.(7) Judaism's relationship with the natural world is far more ambivalent than that with which many Jewishly committed environmentalists would feel comfortable. Too few have delved into the complex and intricate relationship between Judaism and the natural world, a relationship which, while containing the "green" traditions often quoted, also contains the admonition in Pirkei Avot that

One, who while walking along the way, reviewing his studies, breaks off from

his study and says, "How beautiful is that tree! How beautiful is that plowed

field!" Scripture regards him as if he has forfeited his soul. (Ethics of the

Fathers, 3:7)(*)

(*) See Jeremy Benstein, "One, Walking and Studying...': Nature vs. Torah," Judaism, Vol. 44, no. 2 (Spring 1995).

For Jews to confront the environmental crisis as part of a rich and complex Jewish tradition, it is necessary to come to terms with both sides of the tradition and to understand the interrelationship between them. Only by understanding the theological, philosophical, and moral concerns which are an integral part of the Jewish relationship with nature can Jews offer a voice that will not simply mimic already articulated perspectives, but will offer unique attitudes to help guide the task of tikkun olam while confronting issues too long avoided by Jewish thought.

By surveying the literature previously written on Judaism and the environment, I hope to influence the direction of future writing by pointing to places that need exploration. My not-so-hidden agenda is to reassert the Jewish perspective in the encounter between Judaism and the environment with the conviction that a Jewish contribution to the growing debate on environmental ethics can only come from a response strongly rooted in all the ambivalences and ambiguities of the Jewish relationship to the natural world. Perhaps even more importantly, I believe that the reevaluation by the environmental movement of our modern cultural relationship to the natural world, which challenges some of the basic values of our modern culture, deeply confronts ingrained trends in Jewish thought, as well. To engage the points of tension, and not only the points of confluence, will facilitate a dialogue from within the tradition that can lead to a reawakening of the natural world as a central category in our Jewish understanding of what we mean by both the human and the Divine.

Paganism and Judaism

Any serious confrontation of the Jewish relationship with the natural world must confront the Jewish relationship with paganism. The conventional wisdom of modern Jewish thought maintains that Judaism came about as a radical distancing of the Holy from immanence within the world.(8) In this account, idolatry is defined theologically as viewing God as being contained within the material world, whereas Judaism came to assert the transcendental, wholly other nature of the Holy. Paganism, both in its biblical and Hellenistic manifestations, understood God as being contained within Nature. Jewish monotheism distanced the Holy from paganism and its concept of nature.

Such a presentation of the Jewish relationship to nature by way of its polemic against pagan idolatry suggests an antagonism to nature, and the theological affinity between paganism and Nature. Indeed, the modern environmental movement is filled with writings that have picked up on such a reading, calling for a rejection of monotheistic approaches to the world, and a rebirth of paganism. Lynn White sees paganism as the alter-ego to the Judeo-Christian theologically sanctioned exploitation of nature;(9) some ecofeminists have called for a renewal of pagan customs of May Day, celebrations of the moon, and witchcraft;(10) one of the more radical biological theories of our day holds that the earth is a living organism, and has named her Gaia, the name of the Greek earth goddess.(11) This reassertion of pagan theologies, customs, and language understands paganism as a world view which sees Nature as Holy. Eastern religions are often included in the list of religions of Nature, as well, with the many significant theological and cultural differences between the various historical cultures glossed over. These are juxtaposed to an archetypical monotheism which sees God as transcending nature. The operative conclusions are clear: paganism, seeing Nature as sacred, respects the natural world; monotheism, desanctifying nature, abuses it. The rebirth of paganism is a call for the assertion of the natural over the supernatural, Mother Earth over Father King, holistic Nature over the hierarchical dichotomy of Heaven and earth.

Aharon Lichtenstein, writing about Judaism's approach to nature, accepts this typology, as well.(12) While not reaching the operative conclusion that Judaism abuses nature while paganism respects it, he certainly accepts the theological distinction of a monotheism that sets God apart from by contrast with the linking of paganism with present environmentalism. Lichtenstein indeed holds much of the environmental movement, which views nature as Holy, to be idolatrous. And while there might be some practical commonality in action conceivable for a time between the two in order to respond to the immediate manifestations of the environmental crisis, the theological (and what may be assumed, moral) gulf between them is no different than that between Judaism and Greco-Roman paganism.

Everett Gendler can be seen as representing the other end of the continuum of modern Jewish responses to the "pagan" critique by the environmental movement.(13) Gendler holds that there is a latent nature tradition within Judaism, a tradition suppressed due to the ancient polemic with paganism, exile from the land of Israel, and subsequent historical forces. Gendler sees this tradition expressing itself in the nature motifs of Jewish festivals, in female rituals surrounding the blessing of the new moon, and in the reassertion of connection to nature in the Zionist movement. Judaism has suffered due to its exile from the natural world; it is time to reassert the role of nature in our understanding of the human spirit.

Gendler is, in effect, asserting a place for an immanental religious tradition within Judaism. Both he and Lichtenstein accept the idea that a relationship with the natural world has tremendous implications for the life of the spirit: Lichtenstein holds Jewish religious life to be transcendental and apart from the natural world, while Gendler believes Jewish religious life has always had a place for a complementary model(14) of spirituality contained within the relationship of the Jew to the natural world.(15)

Lamm elaborates on the content of our continuum by presenting a range of authentic Jewish relationships to nature whose poles he defines by the Hasidic/ Mitnagdim controversy.(16) Hasidut, while "utterly different" from pagan thought, nevertheless also had manifestations that affirmed the holiness of nature. Such views, most pronounced in Beshtian Hasidism, but present throughout the Kabbalistic tradition, held that the spirit of the Creator is immanent in the Creation, and thus God can be approached through the natural world. While this is different from saying that God is the natural world, a pantheistic/paganistic approach, it does suggest eliminating the hierarchical differences between sacred and profane, and recognizing the theological possibility of the sacred in the profane. From here it is a short distance to antinomian beliefs and behavior, and to seeing Holiness in the most profane of actions. Nevertheless, Hasidut remained safely within the halachic structure, perhaps partially because of realizing the dangerous antinomian tendencies inherent in such belief.

The Mitnagdic school of the Vilna Gaon, also rooted in the Kabbalist tradition, believed that Hasidut had indeed begun to cross the normative halachic framework. The Mitnagdim re-emphasized the transcendence of God from the point of view of the human being, and separated holiness from the world, "allowing for the exploitation of nature by science and technology."(17) Halacha, on this side of the pole, acts to prevent ecological abuse in a philosophical system that otherwise legitimates it. In short, the Hasidic tradition came dangerously close to turning the world into the sacred, the Mitnagdim dangerously close to removing Divine presence from the world.

For Lamm, there is a dynamic tension between the two approaches: created in God's image, the human being is both part of the natural world but also transcends it. living with the paradox of the two approaches, without compromising either, is what it means to be human. Extrapolating from such a view, paganism and its environmental supporters err on the side of the natural in the human; modern Western culture on the side of the transcendent. Judaism has traditionally offered a plurality of approaches, each moving dangerously close to the extremes, but with safeguards to insure remaining within acceptable boundaries. Gendler, using Lamm's terminology, represents the Hasidic tradition; Lichtenstein, the mitnagdic tradition.

Lamm never addresses the question of where Judaism's modern variations stand on his continuum, perhaps suggesting that such a creative tension continues to exist between various modem Jewish approaches. Schorsch contends that, in response to intellectual currents in the larger cultural setting, modern Judaism was pushed beyond Lamm's mitnagdic pole:

We must dare to reexamine our longstanding preference for history over


The celebration of "historical monotheism" is a legacy of nineteenth century

Christian-Jewish polemics, a fierce attempt by Jewish thinkers to distance


from the world of paganism. But the disclaimer has its downside by casting

Judaism into an adversarial relationship with the natural world. Nature is


for the primitiveness and decadence of pagan religion, and the modern Jew is

saddled with a reading of his tradition that is one-dimensional. Judaism has


made to dull our sensitivity to the awe inspiring power of nature.

Preoccupied with

the ghosts of paganism, it appears indifferent and unresponsive to the


challenge of our age: man's degradation of the environment. Our planet is


siege and we as Jews are transfixed in silence.(18)

For Schorsch, modern Jewish historians projected a distance between Judaism and the pagan world that is overstated. This modern version of a "one-dimensional, Judaism is a distortion of the reality of premodern Jewish thought and life.

If Schorsch is correct that the pagan taboo has contributed significantly to the lack of a healthy Jewish relationship with nature, in which I concur, then only by coming to terms with the content of the conflict can we avoid "throwing out the baby with the bath water." In order to rethink our relationship to nature, or to re-search our traditional relationship with nature, without committing the same transgression of interpreting Judaism solely according to the cultural milieu of the day -- historical monotheism then, the emerging environmental movement now -- the Jewish relationship with paganism needs to be reexplored.(19) The taboo against paganism in Jewish thought is so deep, and the linkage between paganism and nature is so taken for granted, that to seek to distance ourselves from paganism has meant distancing ourselves from nature, and conversely, any attempt to reconcile Judaism with nature appears to flirt with paganism. Only by exploring the content of the antipagan Jewish polemic can we hope to understand what is truly at stake.(20)

Living in fear of paganism has not only exacted a heavy price on the Jewish relationship with nature. Feminists have argued that the cultural linking of nature with female has meant that a distancing of culture from nature is linked to a distancing of culture from its feminine components.(21)Judaism's fear of paganism, therefore, has potentially led to a distancing of Judaism from its feminine components. The dominance of male God-imagery and masculine formulations of theology over the centuries can be viewed as one outcome of the fear of paganism. Loss of humility through the loss of our ability to wonder and experience awe at the beauty and vastness of the natural world is another. And losing our sense of place, of being a part of the world is still another. To confront the byproducts, it is essential that the root of the debate between pagan and Jewish culture be confronted. And that debate has much to do with how we understand morality.

Time's Arrows, Time's Cycles

The Jewish polemic against paganism was not only theological but primarily moral. The theological conflict had deep moral implications. Nature worship was seen not simply as a theological/philosophical mistake, but a world view with deep immoral consequences. Schorsch's caution that we not blame nature for pagan excesses notwithstanding, it seems essential to explore what the moral conflict was while we are renegotiating our relationship with the natural world.

Mircea Eliade offers a helpful distinction between the different notions of time of historical religions and nature religions.(22) Eliade maintains that religions focusing on history have a linear view of time, those focusing on nature, a cyclical view -- what Stephen Jay Gould calls time's arrows and cycles.(23) Eliade holds that Judaism was responsible for contributing a linear sense of history to the world, that is, a progressive sense of history.(24) While positing history as change, in fact, while creating the very possibility for history, such a perspective, when not counterbalanced with a sense of cyclic time, can lead to history without a sense of purpose. So Eliade sees our modern period.(25) Linear history, with its beginning and end, needs to be understood in terms of cyclical history, with its transcendent and repeating truths. Or in Jewish terms, the march forward of Egypt to Sinai to Zion must be understood in terms of our continual return to Egypt, Sinai, and Zion in each generation. Time has both its arrows and cycles.

While Eliade believes that the modern period lives in the moral danger of losing sight of the purpose of history through losing a sense of time's cycles, the moral critique works in the other direction as well. An overemphasis on time's cycles can lead to a history without change. Time is understood only in terms of the natural cycles of the world. Seasons come and go, the sun rises and sets, and change is illusory. Time stands still. A sense of history demands that human beings break out of the cycle, and accept the responsibility of a history which can move forward and backward. Time's cycle is connected with what is, time's arrows -- with what can be. Focusing on a religion of nature, one focuses on the cyclical nature of time. A religion of history offers the moral responsibility that is the meaning of its arrows. While Eliade holds that arrows without cycles leads to a history without meaning, an emphasis on arrows has often been understood to mean an emphasis on human responsibility.

Schwartzchild understands the pagan-Jewish debate as exactly one of differing views of nature coupled with different views of morality.(26) Nature represents what is. Morality is born in the question of what ought to be. Judaism is profoundly at odds with the natural world, which functions according to certain laws to which history is then subject. Judaism sees the human being as transcending those laws of nature, with the power to impose a moral order on an otherwise amoral natural reality. Through human judgment between "good" and "evil," that which makes the human "in the image of God," moral thought can impose its order on the natural disorder, completing the process of creation.(27) Schwartzchild recognizes that the tradition is not monolithic in this regard. The "heretical, quasi-pantheistic tendency" found expression in medieval Kabbalah, Hasidut, and modern Zionism.(28) However, this view remained a tangential idea, contrary to the traditional Jewish perspective on nature.

Wyschogrod follows Schwartzchild's argument.(29) The heart of the pagan-Jewish controversy is the moral question of whether what is, should be. And Wyschogrod, like Schwartzchild, sees the modern environmental movement as resurrecting the pagan notion of morality as equated with the world as it is. While there are certainly many environmentalists who understand the need for change in anthropocentric terms-the need to protect our health and the earth's resources for future generations -- "deep" environmentalists subscribe to what Wyschogrod calls "the higher ecology," an environmentalism which attempts to shift our culture from an anthropocentric to a geo/biocentric world view.

Wyschogrod contends that Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement were deeply influenced by such a perspective.(30) Borrowing heavily from Nietzsche, Hitler believed that nature teaches us the basic laws of morality: that the strong kill the weak and through such a process, nature moves forward. Wyschogrod notes that "Evolutionary morality is the right of the stronger to destroy the weaker. Nature wants the weak to perish. The weak contribute to the march of evolution by perishing; and when they refuse to perish, then the weaker have triumphed over the stronger."(31)

However, Judaism (and Christianity] interfere with the natural order by letting the weak survive.(32) A morality which changes the natural order prevents nature from taking its rightful course. Such a perspective on morality Wyschogrod also locates in Plato. In his ideal state, modeled after an organism, there is no place for protection of the weak. Imperfectly born infants are to be disposed of.

Of course, attempting to understand morality as an outgrowth of the natural order does not necessarily demand understanding morality as "survival of the fittest." Nature's lessons were interpreted in radically different ways by its social Darwinist interpreters.(33) But, regardless of the particular interpretation of nature's morality, there is a categorical difference between a morality based on the natural order, however that "natural order" is understood, and a morality based on values whose source is outside of materialist understandings of the world. And in the confrontation between the morality of "the world as it is" and "the world as it should be," both Wyschogrod and Schwartzchild understand judaism as the flagship of a morality that imposes itself on the natural order.

Yet, in spite of his antagonism to a "higher ecology," Wyschogrod acknowledges that the moral philosophy of judaism, which demanded the desacralization of nature, has contributed to the destruction of nature. Returning to a religion of nature is profoundly dangerous, yet, given that, a reconsideration of the human interconnection with the natural is demanded by the ecological crisis.

Wyschogrod's articulation of the link between a religion of nature and an ethics in which what "is" is defined as what "ought" to be, finds expression in the environmental movement. Indeed, the burgeoning field of environmental ethics continues to confront the question of whether ethics are learned from the natural order. In the debate between animal protectionists and deep ecologists, one of the main points of conflict is whether the interests of the individual should take precedence over the needs of the community. For example, should a herd of deer that overpopulate an area due to the extinction of its local predators be hunted in order to protect the flora that they eat, which, as the primary producers in the energy chain, maintain the health of the ecosystem as a whole? Animal protectionists abhor the idea of hunting as the unnecessary suffering of sentient beings. Some environmentalists have supported hunting at least potentially as part of the laws of nature which maintain the health and well-being of the ecosystem. Some have tended to idealize hunting as a return to the primal state of the human being, a return to the natural world, and have criticized what is popularly called "the Bambi syndrome" -- the projection of a human code of morality onto the workings of the natural world.(34) Aldo Leopold, a forerunner of biocentric environmental ethicists, taught the need to learn to "think like a mountain," to think like nature.(35)

The implications for all of this in terms of human existence has been one of the most sensitive subjects of environmental ethics. Parts of the "deep" ecology movement, notably the Earth First! movement, have expressed what Schwartzchild and Wyschogrod's interpretation would suggest: "Some Earth First!ers, who are supposedly motivated by deep ecological ideals, proposed Draconian birth control measures, spoke approvingly of AIDS as a self-protective reaction of Gaia against an overpopulating humanity, used social Darwinist metaphors, and displayed apparent racist attitudes. Earth First! cofounder Dave Foreman even stated that humans `are a cancer on nature.'"(36)

The ideas expressed by a particular part of a movement should in no way be chosen to reflect the thoughts of the movement as a whole. Nevertheless, the predictive ability of Schwartzchild and Wyschogrod's thesis forces us to recognize the danger inherent in philosophies currently prevalent in the environmental movement, which foreground moral questions that have been part of the internal environmental debate for over a decade.(37)

The response to such a morality of nature need not be a denial of the place of the natural within Jewish world views. Ehrenfeld and Bentley,(38) for example, while understanding Judaism as having a strong anthropocentric component, maintain that "the great chain of being"(39) does not place man at the pinnacle, but rather God. The human place in the God-given scheme of things is caring for God's creation, the role of steward. It is the secularization of the world, the removal of God from the hierarchy and placing the human being at its pinnacle, which results in what Ehrenfeld calls "the arrogance of humanism."(40) The stewardship argument is heard often in the environmental ethic debate, changing the perspective from anthropocentric to theocentric.(41) It is but one attempt to deal with the tension between a hierarchical model of creation and an egalitarian model. The former sees the human being as primarily a spiritual being standing apart from the natural world while the latter sees the human being as a material being existing as part of her. Reducing our understanding of human purpose to a material, deterministic view of the world has been shown to be a problematic option. But the environmental movement has suggested that a view of human purpose which ignores the material base of human existence is equally problematic. The dualistic notion of the world which sees human purpose in that which differentiates the human from the rest of creation, implicitly devalues the material, natural side of human existence. Boyarin claims that such a spiritual/ material dichotomy was never part of normative Rabbinic Jewish thought.(42) The Jewish emphasis on the body as a category of spiritual existence suggests the need for a far more complex understanding of the interrelationship of the material and spiritual. Any reassessment of the Jewish relation to nature demands a reevaluation of the interrelationship of the spiritual and the material, including the possibility of foregoing such a dichotomy altogether.(43) In answering Disraeli's question whether the human being is ape or angel, emphasizing our affinity to the world of the ape need not by definition distance us from the spiritual. It might even bring us closer.

The environmental crisis offers both a challenge and an opportunity to modern Judaism. All cultures will be judged in future generations by the depth of their response. A Judaism that refuses to respond through its unique language to modernity's spiritually bankrupt relationship to God's world will be judged for its silence. This is also an opportunity, because far too often Judaism has been forced to speak within the narrow confines offered. The environmental crisis challenges modern culture, and offers the opportunity for other voices, long delegitimized, to reassert themselves within the larger culture. Speaking from within the tradition, and confronting the manifold challenges that a reappraisal of Judaism and nature demands, means a renewal of our relationship with our world. It means evaluating how we relate to the world around us, but no less importantly, how that world around us touches our lives. The environmental crisis is not only a crisis of technology, nor a crisis of human values, but most assuredly also a crisis of the human spirit. How we respond to the challenge and opportunity that the environmental crisis presents has implications not only with how we deal with our world, but also with how we deal with ourselves, our fellow human beings, and our God. This is the context in which a Jewish articulation of an environmental ethic must be considered.


(1.) Traditionally understood as 1960, the year of the initial publication of portions of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in The New Yorker.

(2.) Marc Swetlitz (ed.), Judaism and Ecology 1970-1986: A Sourcebook of Readings (Wyncote, PA: Shomrei Adamah, 1990).

(3.) Lynn White, Jr., "The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis" (Science 155 (March 10, 1967): 1203-07), remains the classic presentation of this position. See Jeremy Cohen, "On Classical Judaism and Environmental Crisis (Tikkun, Volume 5, No. 2) for a review of the early environmental movements polemic against the Judeo-Christian ethic.

(4.) Scholem's resurrection of the field of Kabbalah as a legitimate part of Jewish tradition is not simply a rediscovery of historically prominent trends within Judaism, but marks a change both in the larger culture's mood, as well as a change in the relationship between Judaism and the larger culture.

(5.) On the justification for extrapolating universal values from particular discussions in Rabbinic thought, see Max Kadushin, The Rabbinic Mind (Philadelphia: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1952), pp. 1-58.

(6.) On bal tashchit see David Ehrenfeld and Philip J. Bentley, "Judaism and the Practice of Stewardship" (Judaism, 34 (1985):301-11); Eric Freudenstein, "Ecology and the Jewish Tradition" (Judaism, 19 (1970): 406-14); Robert Gordis, "Judaism and the Spoliation of Nature" (Congress Bi-Weekly, April 2, 1971); Jonathan I. Helfand, "Ecology and Jewish Tradition: A Postscript" (Judaism, 20 (1971): 330-35); Norman Lamm, "Ecology and Jewish Law and Theology," in Faith and Doubt (New York: Ktav, 1971). On tzar baalei chayim see Ehrenfeld and Bentley; Gordis. On yishuv haaretz see Helfand. On shnat Shemita see Gerald J. Blidstein, "Man and Nature in the Sabbatical Year" (Tradition, 8 (1966): 48-55); Ehrenfeld and Bentley, The Sabbatical Year-Holiness or Social Welfare? The Hartman Institute for Jewish Studies [Hebrew Publication].

(7.) A similar argument is made by Bradley Shavit Artson, "Our Covenant with Stones: A Jewish Ecology of Earth" (Conservative Judaism, Vol. 44, No. 1 [Fall 1991]).

(8.) Yehezkel Kauffman, The Religion of Israel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 1-148.

(9.) White, "The Historical Roots" p. 1205.

(10.) Starhawk, "Power, Authority, and Mystery: Ecofeminism and Earth-based Spirituality" in Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orensten (eds.), Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1990).

(11.) James Lovelock, The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth (New York: Bantam Books, 1990).

(12.) James Lichtenstein, "Man and Nature: Social Aspects" in Judaism in Our Modern Society (Israeli Ministry of Education: The Branch for Religious Culture, 1971 [Hebrew Publication]).

(13.) Everett Gendler, "On the Judaism of Nature" in James A. Sleeper and Alan L. Mintz (eds.), The New Jews (New York: Random House, 1971). See also "The Earth's Covenant" (The Reconstructionist, November-December 1989) for a restatement of his views.

(14.) The idea of complementary models, mutually exclusive models which describe parts of the same reality, was originally presented by Niels Bohr. For a discussion of Bohr's theory and its implications for religious thought, see lan Barbour, Myths, Models and Paradigms: A Comparative Study in Science and religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1974), pp. 71-92.

(15.) Michael Rosenak "On Ways and Visions: The Theological and Educational Thought of Irving Greenberg" (The Melton Journal, Spring 1992). The environmental movement is, among other agendas, a call for the reassertion of the Rosenzweigian category of creation in theological discussion. Such a model is helpful in understanding some of the subtle ways environmentalism is in tension with traditional jewish categories. I believe that the environmental crisis offers an opportunity for a reasserting of Creation theologies, while having no effect on the larger culture's openness to theologies of Revelation. Arthur Green's recently published elegant presentation of his own theology is an excellent example of such a tendency. I hold it to be largely a theology of creation, strongly influenced by environmental themes. Arthur Green, Seek My Face, Speak My Name: A Contemporary Jewish Theology (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1992).

(16.) Norman Lamm, "Ecology and Jewish Law and Theology," in Faith and Doubt (New York: Ktav, 1971), pp. 173-77.

(17.) Lamm, p. 177.

(18.) Ismar Schorsch, "Tending to our Cosmic Oasis" (The Melton Journal, Spring 1991), taken from his "The Limits of History," in "Proceedings of the 1989 Rabbinical Assembly Convention."

(19.) See Carolyn Merchant, "Epilogue: The Global Ecological Revolution", in her Ecological Revolutions (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).

(20.) See Levenson's challenge to Yehezkiel Kaufmann's antimythical portrayal of ancient Israel in his "Yehezkel Kaufmann and Mythology" (Conservative Judaism, Vol. 36(2) [Winter 1982]).

(21.) For the classic anthropological presentation, see Sherry B. Ortner, "Is Female to Males as Nature is to Culture," in Michelle Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (eds.), Woman, Culture, and Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974). For a variety of perspectives in the environmental movement, see Diamond and Orenstein (eds.), Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism. Also, Carolyn Merchant's, The Death of Nature (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1980).

(22.) Mircea Eliade, Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York: Harper and Row, 1959).

(23.) Stephen Jay Gould, Times Arrow, Times Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time (London: Penguin Books, 1988).

(24.) Eliade, p. 104.

(25.) Eliade, p. 151.

(26.) Steven S. Schwartzchild, "The Unnatural Jew" (Environmental Ethics, 6 (1984): 347-62).

(27.) In Midrash Tanhuma, Parshat Tizroah, there is, for example, the exchange between the Roman General Turnisrufus and Rabbi Akiva. When asked whether God's creation or human creation is superior, Akiva anticipates the challenge to the Jewish practice of circumcision, and argues for the superiority of human actions, in that they complete the unfinished work of creation. Thus even the human body, perfect in Greek-Roman aesthetic perception, is born imperfect, so that the jew through mitzvot can participate in acts of creation.

(28.) No one articulated the pagan sympathies of some Zionist thought better than Saul Tschernichovsky. See Saul Tschernichovsky, "Before a Statue of Apollo," in Saul Tschernichovsky (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968), pp. 97-98. See also the chapters "Proto-Judaism," pp. 36-41, and "Fusion of Judaism and Hellenism" pp. 41-52 in the same volume.

(29.) Michael Wyschogrod, "Judaism and the Sanctification of Nature" (The Melton Journal (Spring 1992): 6-7.

(30.) For an elaboration of the connection between Nazism and nature see Robert A. Pois, National Socialism and the Religion of Nature (London: Croon Helm, 1986). Pois sees a direct connection between Nazi ideology's pagan beliefs and Nazi Germany's policies.

(31.) Wyschogrod, "Judaism" p. 7.

(32.) Wyschogrod and Schwartzchild differ in their evaluation of Christianity's position on morality and nature. Wyschogrod sees Christianity as a partner in the Jewish polemic against a nature morality. Schwartzchild believes that Christianity is to be found on the pagan end of the moral divide.

(33.) Antonello La Vergata, "Images of Darwin: A Historiographic overview," in David Kohn (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 958-962. Robert M. Young, "Darwinism Is Social," in Kohn (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage.

(34.) "The Bambi syndrome, is named for the Disney movie Bambi, in which the natural world is pictured as an idyllic Eden save for the encroachment of human beings. It refers to the human misconception of nature as peaceful and nonviolent as a result of viewing nature as Bambi portrays her, and thus the misplaced repulsion of many people to hunting. See Matt Cartmill, A View to a Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature through History (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1993.)

(35.) Aldo Leopold, The Sand County Almanac (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949), p. 129.

(36.) Michael Zimmerman explores the link between Heidegger, his Nazi sympathies, and the deep ecology movement. Heidegger has been portrayed as a forerunner of deep ecology. Zimmerman, by acknowledging the philosophical link between Heidegger and National Socialism, confronts the need to disassociate deep ecology from those philosophical assumptions of Heidegger's thought which lead to sympathy for Nazism. See Michael E. Zimmerman, "Rethinking the Heidegger-Deep Ecology Relationship, (Environmental Ethics, Vol. 13 (Fall 1993): 205).

(37.) The debate between social ecology and deep ecology essentially centers around this moral question. For the social ecology position, see Murray Bookchin, "Why This Book Was Written" in Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future (Boston: South End Press, 1990).

(38.) David Ehrenfeld and Philip J. Bentley, Judaism and the Practice of Stewardship" (Judaism, 34: 301-11).

(39.) Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964).

(40.) David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981).

(41.) Wendell Berry, "The Gift of Good Land," in his collection of essays The Gift of Good Land (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981), pp. 267-81. Berry's poetic piece, defending the Judeo-Christian land ethic from White's frontal attack, is a classic of environmental theology.

(42.) Daniel Boyarin, Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).

(43.) Mary Midgely, Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978).
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Author:Schwartz, Eilon
Publication:Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought
Date:Sep 22, 1995
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