What’s Our Response to Environmentalists.

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    Avram in MD


    “But are we commanded not to do actions which harm the environment?”

    This is an excellent question, and I think it gets to the heart of the matter. It seems that your position is that actions that change the environment are forbidden if they harm humans – garbage on the head or toxic pollution being some concrete examples. AGW is more complex, because the effects on people are unclear and long term. Akuperma wants to argue that warming will be a net benefit to humanity. Climate change doomsayers focus only on the perceived threats. But only Hashem knows and controls the results.

    Environmental thought seems to fall into two camps. One camp views human interference with the environment as a bad thing, and their ideal of environmental action is to lessen humanity’s footprint on the planet. The most benign policies from this camp are the carving out of wild, natural areas. The most malignant policies advocate for human population reduction. A crazy loon shot up the Discovery building in Silver Spring, MD years ago because the television network aired reality shows featuring large families, and he demanded the voluntary extinction of the human species. This camp is antithetical to Torah.

    A second camp acknowledges the damage humans cause to the environment, and advocates for humans to continue molding their environment, but to do so with better thought and planning – i.e., instead of the extremes of wild nature or high pollution, build clean gardens that benefit both people and other life. If the focus is on benefiting people, I don’t see this position as a conflict with Torah thought.

    “It would be similar to a scientific prediction that a meteor is about to hit earth in 25 years”

    The simplistic difference between a meteor and AGW is that the latter is presumably caused by people, and thus it is within the scope of human ability to change it (though even if human CO2 and methane emissions went to zero today, various planetary systems are still slowly responding to warming that’s already baked into the system). Whether something is within our abilities to handle or not, we should certainly daven and do teshuva.

    As far as moon colonies – that leads to some other interesting questions that I’ll have to think about before articulating,

    Avram in MD

    emes nisht sheker,

    “the word “mabul” was in quotes (single quotes) because it was a hebrew word. If you look I put “environmentalists” in double quotes to give emphasis to that word. The single quotes was to indicate the change in language. Hope that makes sense.”

    That is an atypical usage of quotation marks, and I have never seen them used in that manner before. Double-quotes are used for quoting, and single-quotes are used for quotes within quotes. For informal usage in forums like this one, quotation marks are frequently applied to words that are not actual quotes, with the intention of indicating doubt, casting aspersions, or to distancing the writer from what is written. For example, imagine a Trump supporter writing “Liz Cheney, the former ‘Republican’ representative from Wyoming”. The function of the quotes around Republican is to indicate that the writer does not believe she is a real Republican. Now imagine a Democrat writing “the annual ‘March for Life’ recently wrapped up in Washington, DC.” Again, March for Life was not a quotation, but the writer put it in quotes to imply that s/he does not support that name. This is how I initially interpreted your quotes, and it confused me.

    Avram in MD


    “Same as when a person is sick – is it a gezera or a cure is possible?”

    It’s both – the two are not mutually exclusive.

    “Maybe, you have a similar cognitive dissonance with the meteor: you clearly need to know physics and engineering to confront the meteor, but this would require you to admit that going to college is useful, and you would rather have the whole world destroyed than admit you were wrong. Understandable. “

    This broadside is not apropos to the discussion – I think AviraDeArah was trying to come up with an example of a prediction of unavoidable destruction and how we should respond as Jews. He did posit leaving Earth as a potential solution that he then rejected, which is also a separate yet interesting discussion.


    Aaq, Hashem told that to Moshe. Moshe did what a Jew does, he davened. And Hashem told him peh el peh that now is the time to trust my promises of miracles and jump into the sea. Same with Doctors. Chazal derive it from a pasuk, verapo yirapeh, otherwise it would have been assur, because it’s a gezerah.

    So do we have a pasuk and a command from Hashem to exercise hishtadlus in climate issues? No. Or if we do, please provide a source.

    Shimon Nodel

    Avira, maybe you should go drink water from the East River. The Torah doesn’t say it’s contaminated, so go for it


    Shimon – does the torah say to look into the bri’ah and see what harms it and adjust our lives accordingly? Have any Jews ever done that?

    At the most, even if there is an issue, it would be no better than rav moshe’s “shomer pasaim Hashem” heter regarding smoking.

    No, I don’t think anyone should smoke….that’s not the point. learn the teshuvah, it’s seminal in the area of the halacha being discussed.


    “Maybe you should go drink water from the East River. The Torah doesn’t say it’s contaminated, so go for it

    The best location is the pier by the tennis courts just north of the Williamsburg Bridge….slight mineral taste with citrus overtones. B’Taovon


    Avira > do we have a pasuk and a command from Hashem to exercise hishtadlus in climate issues?

    Elisha providing environmental cleanup in Yericho – I suggest drink there before Hudson.

    The bears who ate the business-men (boys/naarim) who were upset that they lost lucrative water delivery business.

    Meam Loez, based on Yaakov’s behavior, says it is etza tova when you are visiting a place, find something that you can improve in that place to make people’s life better.

    numerous Gemoras that discuss how to make people healthier and more prosperous.

    Shimon Nodel

    I don’t think Avira quite understood my message.

    Gadol, I hear under the Manhattan Bridge just past Chinatown has a very unique flavor. Also the water just off Rikers supposedly is something really special


    “There is only 216 and a half years until the latest time for Moshiach to come and the end of the world as we know it….

    Azoy. There is this tall guy with a beard who has been walking back and forth in front of our firm’s NYC office in Hudson Yards holding a big sign saying that the “world is ending” and its time to “return to G-d”. He is affectionately known as “Doomsday Don” and always has a smile and positive greeting. When I checked on my last trip to NYC several weeks ago, his target date was roughly 2028 (depending on certain “astrophysical cycles” that were well beyond my rocket science credentials). Perhaps your guys can consult with him and come up with a consensus date for your nevius. In the interim,many of us will avoid throwing trash out of our 53rd floor windows (that don’t open) on your thesis that none of this “environmental green stuff” matters given the imminent arrival of moishiach.


    In 1999 technology people were telling everyone that when clocks hit the year 2000, it will break almost all computers in the world and we will see a massive doomsday. 2000 came and went without a hitch and everyone laughed at Bill Gates. The thing that they didn’t see is the legions of programmers working tug unt nacht to make sure that 2000 will come and go without a hitch.

    In the 1960s environmental people were telling everyone that people are consuming too many resources too quickly, burning up the atmosphere, and creating too many chemicals that cannot decompose into the environment. They said that at the current rate, there will not be enough food and resources to keep people alive in 30 years. Those thirty years came and went with nary a hitch and everyone laughed at those Malthusian fools. The thing that the didn’t see was the massive amount of efforts that went on both in public and behind the scenes to make sure the governments and corporations massively cut down on environmentally damaging actions along with huge changes to how food is grown and how resources are harvested.


    AAQ, there are many ways to improve peoples’ lives. I asked you – is there a source that says that we are to repair or investigate or even be aware of climate issues whatsoever, aside from localized air pollution from billowing smoke and smog which makes people visibly cough?

    Don’t skirt around the question – is there a source or isn’t there. Talking about improving irrigation, transportation, harvesting, etc…has nothing to do with this yes or no question.


    Yserb, do you think Hashem would tell us “lesheves yatzarta” and command us to have as many kids as possible, in the mitzvah of “ulerev al tanach yadecha” after being mekayam pru urvu, if by doing so we would have depleted the food supply?

    Are you aware of how anti torah your whole premise is?


    I was not clear on your position – so you would agree on pollution, but not with “climate issues”?

    I don’t think our positions differ much then. I also think that most of the climate hype is an aveira, with people pursuing their political instincts and/or financial interests. It is easier to scare people by some future unknown threat into taxation and submission than solve actual problems.

    I think I disagree that this highly visible group of alarmists represent “scientific community”. Most of the latter continue solving world’s problems and do not get into NYT unless something bad happens.
    Historical example I used before Fritz Haber got a Nobel for contribution to fertilizer process, saving/creating billions of lives, but lost world recognition, and his wife to a suicide, for inventing poison gas for the German army. World is not paying attention to important things both in ruchniyus and gashmiyus.


    Volume 4 of the authoritative Shimon Meller Brisker Rav biography makes it clear that The Brisker Rav zt”l views the very midrash that others quoted here dismissively (Hashem taking Adam harishon around Gan Eden) as proof that humans can in fact destroy the world So he argues on Rav Avigdor Miler zt”l on this point. Plastics and pollutants are the result of excessive gashmius and not caring about others, which is ruchnius as well.
    So to get back to the original poster, the Brisker Rav would say that we don’t have a response, except to understand that pollution is the result of our spiritual impurities having an impact on the physical world. Maskim that this has become a new religion for many, but just because other sects abuse Moshiach, Eretz Yisroel, and Tanach doesn’t mean that we have to throw out the concepts completely. So the same applies here.


    Aaq, i was very clear earlier to distinguish between visible cause and effect issues, which while min hashomayim are no different than deciding to pour garbage on people from a window, and global level theoretical ideas which even if proven, are outside our purview. We have no mitzvah to investigate them, and if we’re made aware of them, we should say it’s up to Hashem. Why don’t we say it’s up to Hashem in other dangers? Because elsewhere we have a pasuk. Verapo yirapeh, veasafta deganecha, maakah, etc… If this were an issue we’d have a source for it somewhere.


    Lernt, no one dismissed the medrash – as i said above, it means just what you said, that we can destroy the world spiritually, with outlr aveiros, not our SUVs. That’s exactly what the mesilas yeshorim says on that medrash, that when we go after olam hazeh, we are mekalkel it, and when we go after mitzvos, we elevate it. “It is a great elevation for the creations when they serve the uses of the adam hashalem…” In perek 1.

    Also as i said above, i have no issue with the idea (though I disagree, based on rav millet) that climate change is a real gezerah, and that our response should be to do teshuva and daven, like we would for any other gezerah. If there were/are other gedolim who think it’s a real gezerah… they’re entitled to. But no rabbonim from the mainstream world, as far as i know, have said to engage in compost, increase recycling, switch to Teslas, or anything else.


    I also disagree sharply that plastics are not caring about other people, because the idea is circular – you’re starting with the idea that we can harm the world with things other than aveiros, i.e..plastics, then proceed to say that it’s spiritual because it’s hurting others….which is only true if you accept first that it is actually hurting others. And to do that you need the global, theoretical investigation level which we don’t have a source for.

    I know of no gadol who limits their use of plastics. Do you? Are all of the gedolei yisroel guilty of not caring about others by using plastics? Sorry, but I don’t see anything convincing here.

    As for localized pollutants – see above, it’s a good point.


    Avira > global level theoretical ideas which even if proven, are outside our purview. We have no mitzvah to investigate them, and if we’re made aware of them, we should say it’s up to Hashem.

    I agree that there is a moment where speculation starts and pseudo-scientists misuse it.

    But, still, purviews are different. Probably, easiest to see in medicine. Should we still recommend bloodletting for most diseases, or is it OK to use MRI to diagnose and then treat accordingly? Is MRI going into something that is up to Hashem? don’t know your opinion, but most people seem to accept such things, even when they have no idea what it does. Now, many of these instruments are not 100% correct and predictive, but, on average, they are helpful.


    on care for environment:
    I recall reading about R Kamenetsky encountering some insect. Someone suggesting stepping on it. Rav inquired whether the insect is dangerous. When told that it is creepy but not dangerous, he stepped over it. I hope I got the details right.

    But, then, R Kamenetsky would not authorize driving around a bus, so I know many do not hold by his shitos.


    Avira, I believe that Rav Avigdor Miler zt”l would admit he’s not on the level of the Brisker Rav zt”l, and would concede to the Brisker Rav’s view. I thought you were pro Brisk, why is this different?

    Most gedoilim live a very simple, non-hedonistic lifestyle, and therefore do not have the same carbon and plastic footprint as us Americans. It’s gantz shayach that they would be moideh that we Americans are destroying the planet, like the Brisker Rav zt”l said.
    There’s a gantze perek in bava basra about making sure we don’t hurt others even as we mind our own business 2nd perek) and moving things away from others to limit the damage. Why should this be any different?


    Lernt, i never said it was a machlokes vetween Der Rov and Rav avigdor Miller. The brisker rov never said that we can destroy the world through using plastics and driving SUVs, or taking trains(he took them all the time)

    Saying that gedolim live simple lives and would agree that using plastics is an issue is like saying (and i heard this once) that the reason why gedolim move back and forth during davening is that they’re aware of an Eastern religious idea of… whatever it is) except here it’s worse because we have no proof that they’re even consciously reducing their carbon footprint at all!

    If you can find a gadol who says this openly, I’ll happily agree, so please ask around!


    The main difference between preventing hezek in chazal is that they never tell us we are to look into the briah and determine what harms the world itself, if such a thing exists.

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