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Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:53pm - 3 weeks ago
For many years Danny Shapiro looked forward to staying up all night at his synagogue with his friends on the first night of Shavuot, hearing talks about and discussing Torah teachings. This year he especially anticipated this annual commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, because Rabbi Greenberg would be meeting with Danny and other college students for an hour at 3 AM to answer any questions on Judaism that they brought up. Danny had recently become a vegetarian and had done a lot of background reading on Jewish connections to vegetarianism and he wanted to find out what the rabbi thought about the issue.
When Rabbi Greenbe... Continue »
Posted on Friday, May 3, 2013, 9:31am - 3 weeks ago
Shavuot and Vegetarianism
By Richard H. Schwartz
There are many connections between vegetarianism and the important Jewish festival of Shavuot:
1. Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the season of the giving of our law (the Torah)). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, dietary regimen: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed - to you it shall be for food'" (Genesis 1:29).
2. To honor the Torah, many Jews stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to study Torah teachings. It is some of these teachings -to guard our ... Continue »
Posted on Thursday, April 25, 2013, 4:40pm - 4 weeks ago
A Shavuot Message: Applying Torah Values To Our Diets
By Richard H. Schwartz
Since Shavuot is z'man matan Torateinu (the commemoration of the giving of the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai), many dedicated religious Jews admirably stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to hear talks about and discuss Torah teachings.
Among these Torah teachings are that Jews should preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace. By becoming vegetarians, and preferably vegans, Jews would be partaking in a diet that is most consistent with these basic teachings. Please consider:
1. ... Continue »
Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013, 8:45pm - 1 month ago
Some Jewish Environmental Thoughts for Earth Day
Richard H. Schwartz
And the Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him into the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.--Genesis 2:15
The earth was not created as a gift to you. You have been given to the earth, to treat it with respectful consideration, as God’s earth, and everything on it [must be seen] as God’s creation, and [animals recognized as] your fellow creatures—to be respected, loved, and helped to attain their purpose according to God’s will . . . --Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Nineteen Letters, Letter 4
The world is severely threatened by climate change and many other environmental proble... Continue »
Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013, 6:14pm - 1 month ago
Lag B’Omer & Vegetarianism: Making Every Day Count
Daniel Brook & Richard H. Schwartz
Lag B’Omer, which begins after sundown on Saturday, April 27 in 2013, is considered a minor Jewish holiday, but even a minor holiday provides valuable lessons and is worth celebrating. A great way to celebrate Lag B’Omer is through vegetarianism, as Lag B’Omer has many vegetarian connections.
Lag B’Omer represents the 33rd day of the counting of the omer, the 49 days from the second day of Passover and Shavuot, reminding us of the link between these two holidays. While Passover celebrates our freedom from slavery, Shavuot celebrates our receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. During Passover, Jews brought barl... Continue »
Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013, 8:57pm - 1 month ago
Jewish Teachings on the Environment (Part 1)
by Richard Schwartz
With Earth Day approaching (April 22), it is a good time to consider some of Judaism’s powerful teachings on the environment.
Some people argue that humankind has been given a license to exploit the earth and its creatures, because God gave us “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creeps upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). However, the Talmudic sages interpret that dominion as one of guardianship or stewardship, serving as co-workers with God in caring for and improving the world, and not as a right to conquer and exploit animals and the earth (Shabbat 10a; Sanhedri... Continue »
Posted on Thursday, April 4, 2013, 10:19am - 2 months ago
Imagining a Vegan World
The late Senator Robert Kennedy often said: “Some see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not.”
Yes, why not? Why not a vegetarian world? Or, even better, since we are dreaming after all, why not a vegan world? When one considers all the harm that comes from the current widespread production and consumption of animal products, it is hard to believe that many more people have not recognized the importance of moving toward such a world.
What would a vegan world be like?
It would be a world with far healthier people. Numerous studies show that plant-based diets can sharply reduce the risk factors for hea... Continue »
Posted on Monday, March 25, 2013, 5:17am - 2 months ago
Environmental Connections to Passover
By Richard H. Schwartz
In view of the many current environmental crises that face the world today, this is a good time to consider environmental messages related to Passover and the events and concepts related to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt:
1. Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues:
* When we consider the threats to our land, water, and air, we can easily enumerate ten modern "plagues". For example: (1) global warming (2) rapid melting of glaciers and polar ice caps (3) destruction of tropical rain forests (4) acid rain (5) soil erosion and depletion (6) loss of biodiversity (7) ... Continue »
Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013, 4:56pm - 2 months ago
Freeing Ourselves at Passover from Harmful Eating
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Jews commendably go to extraordinary lengths before and during Passover to avoid certain foods, in keeping with Torah mitzvot.
But at the same time, we continue eating other foods that, by Torah standards, are hardly ideal.
On Passover, Jews are prohibited from eating, owning, or otherwise benefiting from chometz.
Chometz are foods such as breads, cakes, and cereals that are made from one of the five grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats) that ferment from contact with liquid.
Many Jews spend weeks before Passover cleaning their houses, cars, and other possessions to make s... Continue »
Posted on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:41pm - 2 months ago
Parshat Tzav: How Meat Consumption Today Differs from
The Time of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the Wilderness
Richard H. Schwartz, PhD
And that which is left thereof [from the meal-offering] shall Aaron and his sons eat; it shall be eaten without leaven in a holy place; in the tent of meeting they shall eat it. . . . it is most holy as the sin-offering and the guilt-offering. Leviticus 6:9.10
When the Jewish people were in the wilderness before they entered the land of Israel, the consumption of meat was associated with holiness. Every piece of meat consumed came from an animal sacrificed in the Mishkan (Sanctuary), an act... Continue »