Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield
Original Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield
Published:  2001
Language:  English
Pages:   434

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About the Book

Martin D. Yaffe's Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader is a well-conceived exploration of three interrelated questions: Does the Hebrew Bible, or subsequent Jewish tradition, teach environmental responsibility or not? What Jewish teachings, if any, appropriately address today's environmental crisis? Do ecology, Judaism, and philosophy work together, or are they at odds with each other in confronting the current crisis? Yaffe's extensive introduction analyzes and appraises the anthologized essays, each of which serves to deepen and enrich our understanding of current reflection on Judaism and environmental ethics. Brought together in one volume for the first time, the most important scholars in the field touch on diverse disciplines including deep ecology, political philosophy, and biblical hermeneutics. This ambitious book illustrates—precisely because of its interdisciplinary focus — how longstanding disagreements and controversies may spark further interchange among ecologists, Jews, and philosophers. Both accessible and thoroughly scholarly, this dialogue will benefit anyone interested in ethical and religious considerations of contemporary ecology.



Part I: The Historical Question
1. On Classical Judaism and Environmental Crisis
2. The Hebrew View of Nature
3. Concepts of Nature in the Hebrew Bible
4. The Forestry of the Prophets
5. The Agricultural and Ecological Symbolism of the Four Species of Sukkot
6. Judaism and the Practice of Stewardship
7. Man and Nature in the Sabbatical Year
8. Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1

Part II: The Ethical Question
9. Our Covenant with Stones: A Jewish Ecology of Earth
10. Created in the Image of God: Humanity and Divinity in an Age of Environmentalism
11. Is Gaia Jewish? Finding a Framework for Radical Ecology in Traditional Judaism
12. "One, Walking, and Studying...": Nature vs. Torah
13. Bal Tashchit: A Jewish Environmental Precept
14. Contemporary Problems in Ethics from a Jewish Perspective

Part III: The Philosophical Question
15. The Unnatural Jew
16. Comments on the Unnatural Jew
17. Some Thoughts on Nature and Judaism
18. Judaism and the Sanctification of Nature
19. Judaism and Nature: Theological and Moral Issues to Consider while Renegotiating a Jewish Relationship to the Natural World
20. Nature's Healing Power, the Holocaust, and the Environmental Crisis
21. Ethical Issues of Animal Welfare in Jewish Thought
22. Judaism and Animal Experimentation
23. Vegetarianism and Judaism
24. Sanctified Eating: A Memorial of Creation


For decades Judaic environmental ethics has stood in the shadow of unfruitful debates about Christian responsibility for the environmental crisis. This collection puts those debates into perspective and begins the discussion of Jewish environmental philosophy in its own right, by bringing together materials that would otherwise be difficult to obtain, if not unavailable, to most readers of the book. It provides the best starting point for anyone, researchers and laypersons alike, interested in learning more about this important subfield within environmental philosophy.

--- Eugene Hargrove, University of North Texas

This important book invites the reader to delve more deeply into the ethical and philosophical questions that underlie our environmental dilemma. It provides a lucid analysis of Jewish texts that speak to environmental concerns, and inspires the reader—regardless of religious orientation—to think critically about environmental issues.

--- Ellen Bernstein, Founder, Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth, and Editor, Ecology & the Jewish Spirit

Unlike most collections about Judaism and the environment, this one takes the former at least as seriously as the latter. Martin Yaffe's extended and deeply thoughtful introduction provides a perfect setting for the stimulating readings that follow; he steadfastly refuses to be content with merely donning the latest green lenses to view five thousand years of tradition. Instead, he identifies the deep questions that turn his carefully chosen selections into a lively debate about God, nature, and human responsibility.

--- Charles Rubin, Duquesne University

Yaffe skillfully and intelligently guides readers through the complex thicket of issues raised by the articles on Judaism and environmentalism. ... He makes subtle suggestions about how to think more clearly and less ideologically about some of the most contentious problems that animate the various authors and stir the contemporary discussion.

--- Kenneth Hart Green, University of Toronto

This book brings together works of the highest intellectual quality and philosophical merit addressing the problematic relationship of Judaism and the contemporary environmental crisis. The alleged alienation of Jews from nature is honestly confronted and just as honestly contested. The potential of biblical and other Judaic resources for developing a powerful environmental ethic is fully and satisfyingly explored. The wide-ranging collection of essays is brilliantly integrated by Martin Yaffe's graceful, but critical, introduction.

--- J Baird Callicott, University of North Texas, University Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and formerly Regents Professor of Philosophy, University of North Texas

Realistic about the variety of perceived eco-friendly and non-friendly strains in Judaism, the essays in this reader enter a conversation that contemplates the present environmental situation. It is a conversation well worth entering and, in fact, a conversation central to the role of the Jewish person in an age of environmental crisis.

--- Judaism

Required reading for continuing studies in religion and ecology.

--- Alternatives Journal: Canada's Environmental Voice

Jewish writings on environmental issues are sufficiently rare that any work on this subject is greeted eagerly by those of us who are engaged both by Judaism and environmentalism. In the case of the new collection of essays edited by Martin Yaffe, one is thrilled by both the quantity and the quality of the offerings.

--- Environmental Ethics

In the case of the new collection edited by Martin Yaffe, one is thrilled by both the quantity and the quality of the offerings.

--- Environmental Ethics

Judaism and Environmental Ethics is a substantial collection of essays brought into dialogue with one another in Yaffe's careful introductory overview. For someone teaching a course on Judaism and environmental ethics, this book is obviously an invaluable resource. But for anyone interested in exploring relationships between religion and nature in general, and Judaism and nature in particular, this book provides an insight into the many and complex attitudes to nature that have emerged within Jewish traditions.

--- Journal of Jewish Studies

Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader, edited by Martin D. Yaffe, is an anthology that endeavors to represent fairly the 'state-of-the-art' on Judaism and environmental ethics in a philosophically respectable manner. In large measure, it succeeds…. Convincingly demonstrates that Judaism is capable of formulating an ecological theology and environmental ethic relevant to the contemporary global environment crisis.

--- Philosophy East and West

The Hebrew faith originated with a land ethic—a covenant people in a land of promise, to be inhabited with justice and charity. In this searching anthology, contributors press point and counterpoint, analysis and synthesis, text and exposition, principle and practice. Judaism here claims its rightful place in environmental ethics, helping us all discover Earth as a planet with promise.

--- Holmes Rolston III, Colorado State University