While the approach is somewhat nuanced, on the whole Jewish tradition is quite supportive of environmental protection and friendliness. It begins with recognizing an inherent tension between human societal development and responsible stewardship of the earth. The verse in Genesis/Bereishit 1:28 directs humanity to “conquer” the land. Ramban explains this as a mandate to use the world to our benefit, and the example he offers is mining copper out of the ground. Yet at the same time, Genesis/Bereishit 2:15 charges Adam with protecting the Garden in which he lives. Humanity is from the beginning of time placed in the role of guardian that cares for the earth, for it does not belong to us. "The earth and all that is in it belong to G-d” (Tehillim/Psalms 24:1).
Additional verses found in Deuteronomy/Devarim 20:19-20 offer further clarification. In the context of war and laying siege to an enemy city, the Torah prohibits the cutting down of fruit trees to make battering rams or to cause the enemy dismay. Rather, we are instructed to use non-fruit bearing trees. The Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah #529) explains that this prohibition against needless destructive impact is not just for trees, but rather for the needless destruction or waste of any item.
Human beings are allowed to make use of the environment, but only with legitimate cause and with care not to cause undue damage. For example, while as a rule the saving a human life trumps concerns of ecological impact, the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 155) places limits on industry that causes pollution to a city.
This delicate balance is well put by the Midrash Kohelet/Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7: “When Hashem created Adam, He took him and showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him, ‘See my works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. Everything that I created, I created for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy my world, for if you do - there will be nobody after you to repair it.’” Answered by: Rabbi Judah Dardik (Emeritus)
I assume you are asking about Jewish view on protection of the environment and not about a particular (“political”) movement.
The Jewish view assumes that God has ultimate stewardship over the earth and has given the earth to humanity to tend (Genesis 2:14). Humans are part of creation and are created in the image of God b’zelem elohim which gives infinite value to human life and also gave us great power. This power can also be used to destroy creation. Many of the environmental disasters we see today are caused by humanity. But the Bible has also given us multiple commandments to be careful with creation and not to destroy it. For one, the Sabbath is one commandment that tells us to refrain from our usual activities of creating and consuming: we walk to synagogue; we do not shop, cook or travel.
Each time we eat we are commanded to say a blessing and thus reminding us where the food comes from. It can be a moment of great awareness and a tool to help us reconnect with nature.
But the Torah is even more explicit: in Deuteronomy 20:19-20 it tells us the proper behavior even in a time of armed conflict (which usually is a time when many ethical rules tend to be neglected):
“When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? Only trees that you know do no yield food may be destroyed; you may cut them down for constructing siege works against the city that is waging war on you, until it has been reduced.”
This is the source for the principle of “bal tashchit” (do not destroy/do not waste). The medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides expanded this in this Mishne Torah to also include the needless destruction for instance of clothes, food, buildings (Laws of Kings and Wars, 6:8, 10). It also includes being moderate in the consumption of food and drink or display of wealth (something I wish some Bnei Mitzvah celebrations and weddings would be more mindful of).
There is a peculiar law recorded in the Bible known as “shiloach haken” (sending away the mother bird). In Deuteronomy 22:6-7 it says:
“If along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother with her young. Let the mother go, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life.”
What sounds cruel at first reveals great environmental concern: If it is necessary to take the eggs of bird (e.g. for food) make sure to not also kill the mother bird and to send it away. She will be able to nest again and hence preserve the species.
That the reason for this is not only ethical (to spare the mother bird the pain of seeing its eggs taken) as some commentators have held can be seen in the following commentary by the medieval philosopher Nahmanides who wrote in his commentary to the Torah:
“This also is an explanatory commandment of the prohibition you shall not kill it [the mother] and its young both in one day (Leviticus 22:28). The reason for both [commandments] is that we should not have a cruel heart and not be compassionate, or it may be that Scripture does not permit us to destroy a species altogether, although it permits slaughter [for food] within that group. Now the person who kills the mother and the young in one day or takes them when they are free to fly, [it is regarded] as though they have destroyed that species.”
Nothing is superfluous in creation we learn in Genesis Rabbah 10:7 “Our Rabbis said: Even those things that you may regard as completely superfluous to Creation – such as fleas, gnats and flies—even they were included in Creation; and God’s purpose is carried through everything—even through a snake, a scorpion, a gnat, a frog.”
We learn that everything in creation has its value even if we might not be aware of it. Destroying it would be denying God’s creation. We are prohibited from mistreating animals and causing them unnecessary pain, this principal is known as “tzaar baalei chayim”. Unfortunately, especially in an age of mass-produced meat there have been examples where kosher slaughterhouses also have violated this principle for the sake of profit. And more and more Jewish consumers and organizations are demanding change and becoming involved in environmental action. Doing so is living the principles of torah.
This is a question with a fairly simple answer: The Torah and Jewish Tradition is 100% in favor of efforts to protect the environment and preserve our natural resources. The first couple of chapters of Genesis make it clear that The Earth is there for humanity to use, but also to make sure that we don’t use it up. We are not to rule over the natural resources (animal, plant and mineral) but to make sure to care for them.
Midrash Rabba, an early collection of Jewish legends and teaching, in the commentary on Ecclesiastes makes this as clear as could be: “Before creating this world, God made world after world and discarded them saying: This does not please Me. At last God created this one and said: This one is good. God then made Adam and showed him all the world. God said: Look at this beautiful world! Take good care of it... if you ruin this one, there will be none to follow it.”
Furthermore, our tradition is clear that even the most important of tasks should be done with care for the natural world: “If you should happen to be holding a sapling in your hand when they tell you the Messiah has arrived, first plant the sapling and then go out to greet the Messiah.” (Avot D’Rabbi Natan).
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