The Bible Says What? Everything on earth is there for human consumption!
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The Bible Says What? Everything on earth is there for human consumption!

Rabbi Elana Dellal takes a controversial topic from Jewish texts and applies a progressive response

Fruit on a tree (Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash)
Fruit on a tree (Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash)

And God said: “They shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

Throughout time, many have used our Torah to argue that because humans were created last, as the pinnacle of God’s work, everything that came before was put on earth for our consumption.

Indeed, in Genesis, we read God’s words to Adam and Eve: “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea,
the birds of the sky and every living creature.

“I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food.”

The creation story has therefore been used to justify humans taking too much control over other living creatures and the natural resources around them.

However, this is not the rabbinic tradition and not our Liberal tradition. Our texts encourage us to be humble in the face of the natural world around us.

The rabbis taught: “Man was created on the eve of the Sabbath – and for what reason? So that in case his heart grew proud, one might say to him: ‘Even the gnat was in creation before you were there.’”

We are living in unprecedented times. We see storms, which were once rare occurrences, ravaging parts of our world regularly, forest fires destroying sacred trees and land, water levels rising, drought, hunger and famine.

Our children and our children’s children will want to know what
we did to stand up against the destruction that we are causing to their world. 

What will you tell them?

  • Rabbi Elana Dellal is a member of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors

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