The Jewish Education

Jewish Wisdom: It’s A Sin To Waste

The environmental crisis is calling the attention of many.  Climate change, food shortage, and pollution are just a few of the issues that make us worry, damage our health, relationship, and property.   Religion plays a significant role in our life for us to find peace and hope amidst the life calamities brought by these changes.


Religion And Environment

Some people involved in the preservation of the environment turn to religion to find wisdom on how to appreciate, care, and preserve the earth and why we should do that.  Someone who practices his religion knows that it is a must to be one with everything around him, especially things that we did not make ourselves.


As Jews, we are bound by our laws and ethical systems.  We should always act in reference to God, other people, and the environment.


Jewish law prohibits wasteful consumption.  When a Jew wastes resources, he is violating the mitzvah of Bal Tashchit (do not waste).  Producing so much waste is not good for the environment.  The simple things, such as the unwise use of water or excessive purchase of food we do not actually consume, depletes its supplies.  By this, we are depriving other people to have the chance to enjoy these blessings, especially the future generations.


Wasteful Consumption Of Anything

Jews even from a young age are taught not to waste clothes, household goods, buildings, money, food, money, time, water, almost all things (literally).  It is a recognition that those things are not ours but of God.  Recklessly consuming anything is damaging what He has created. It is violating our obligation to make use creation as our rightful blessing.


Modest Consumption, A Jewish Value 

As Jews, we are to avoid eating, drinking, or wearing clothes excessively.  We are obligated to “carefully consider” our needs and not our wants when making a purchase.


Our grandmother would always tell us stories about what happened to her and her siblings and friends during the Holocaust. The way the Nazis treated them (both young and old, men and women) was a horrible thing.  They were three siblings and she was the only one who survived.  She was lucky that they kept her alive as a slave.  They were not treated well and not adequately fed.  She would tell us while tears are falling down her cheeks. What barely kept her alive were the crumbs on the floor.  How she would patiently and discreetly gather them in her pocket to share with others.


Her stories remind us how the Jews were enslaved for hundreds of years and survived by following God’s instructions through Moses.  She taught us the value of how to be wise and sensible in our actions. Observing this rule contributes a lot to Jewish people who flourish in their career and have become successful in life.


Do Not Destroy Fruit Bearing Trees, Even More, Its Fruits

As you throw food into your waste bin, you are also throwing away your money, energy, and water.  It affects not only you but others and the environment.  Disposing of your waste costs the government billion dollars.  In low-income countries, their wastes are disposed of in unregulated dumps.  Sometimes, their garbage is openly burned.  This practice causes health, safety, and environmental hazards.


For Jews, buying too much food and just letting them rot on the fridge and then dispose of it is an apparent desecration of Bal Tashchit.


Be A Mindful Consumer

Being aware of how much food we buy and consume first those that do not get refrigerated or those that will go stale first helps us to have less waste.  It even allows us to go for days without food in our fridge that rots.  It means a clean and safe fridge for me and my family’s health.


We need to be mindful of our tendency to be wasteful.  By committing to this goal, we will be able to produce ecological, social, financial, and spiritual benefits.  We become stronger persons.  We can win over spiritual and environmental threats.


God commands the Jews (and all of us) to care for each other and the earth.  For my grandmother, God taught her why it is a sin to waste food and all other things that help us survive.  From the grim nightmare of the Holocaust up to her last breath, it’s the wisdom she imparted to us.  Learning not to waste shows how deeply you have rooted in your faith and what a genuinely compassionate creation you are.

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