Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word

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Jewish ecological discourse has shown that Judaism harbors deep concern for the well-being of the natural world. However, the movement has not articulated a Jewish theology of nature, nor has it submitted the sources of Judaism to a systematic, philosophical examination. This volume intends to contribute to the nascent discourse on Judaism and ecology by clarifying diverse conceptions of nature in Jewish thought and by using the insights of Judaism to formulate a constructive Jewish theology of nature. The twenty-one contributors consider the Bible and rabbinic literature, examine the relationship between the doctrine of creation and the doctrine of revelation in the context of natural law, and wrestle with questions of nature and morality. They look at nature in the Jewish mystical tradition, and they face the challenges to Jewish environmental activism caused by the tension between the secular nature of the environmental discourse and Jewish religious commitments.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson is Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Arizona State University.

Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard is Director of Organizational Development and Member of the Faculty at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

Eliezer Diamond is Rabbi Judah A. Nadich Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Michael Fishbane is Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, and Chair of the Committee on Jewish Studies, at the University of Chicago. Among his many books are Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israeland Judaism: Revelation and Traditions.

Stephen A. Geller is Professor of Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Jerome Gellman is Professor of Philosophy at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheba, Israel.

Neil Gillman is Aaron Rabinowitz and Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Jewish Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Lenn E. Goodman is Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

Arthur Green is Philip W. Lown Professor of Jewish Thought at Brandeis University.

Mark X. Jacobs is Executive Director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

Edward K. Kaplan is Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Research Associate of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry, and Chair of the Program on Religious Studies at Brandeis University.

Barry S. Kogan is Clarence and Robert Efroymson Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Religious Thought and Philosophy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Jon D. Levenson is Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School.

Shaul Magid is Associate Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Jewish Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

David Novak is J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto.

Shalom Rosenberg is Professor of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Elion Schwartz is Director of the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership.

Moshe Sokol is Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies at Touro College.

Elliot R. Wolfson is Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Introduction: Judaism and the Natural World
A Kabbalah for the Environmental Age 3
Toward a Jewish Theology of Nature 17
The Ecology of Eden 27
How Much Is Too Much? Conventional versus Personal Definitions of Pollutions in Rabbinic Sources 61
Jewish Death Practices: A Commentary on the Relationship of Humans to the Natural World 81
Response: Mastery and Stewardship, Wonder and Connectedness: A Typology of Relations to Nature in Jewish Text and Tradition 93
Nature's Answer: The Meaning of the Book of Job in Its Intellectual Context 109
Creation in the Bible and in the Liturgy 133
The Doctrine of Creation and the Idea of Nature 155
Response: Natural and Supernatural Justice 177
Concepts of Torah and Nature in Jewish Thought 189
Respect for Nature in the Jewish Tradition 227
What Are the Ethical Implications of Jewish Theological Conceptions of the Natural World? 261
Response: Construction, Discovery, and Critique in Jewish Ecological Ethics 283
Mirror of Nature Reflected in the Symbolism of Medieval Kabbalah 305
Nature, Exile, and Disability in R. Nahman of Bratslav's "The Seven Beggars" 333
Early Hasidism and the Natural World 369
Response: The Textualization of Nature in Jewish Mysticism 389
Reverence and Responsibility: Abraham Joshua Heschel on Nature and the Self 407
Can Judaism Make Environmental Policy? Sacred and Secular Language in Jewish Ecological Discourse 423
Jewish Environmentalism: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges 449
Select Bibliography 481
Notes on Contributors 487
Index 493
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