Member since 2011

Richard Schwartz

Featured Causes: Judaism and Vegetarianism, climate change


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Some Challenging Questions

I believe there is always a need to consider if we are doing all we can to apply our Jewish teachings toward creating a better world. This can help avoid  complacency and self-satisfaction. Therefore I would like to pose some respectful questions (aimed at least as much at me as at anyone else). * What would the prophets say about our society today? about Judaism in our time? about Synagogue activities? * Why so ...


Imagining a Vegan World

The late Senator Robert Kennedy often stated: "Some see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that have never been and ask why not?" Yes, why not? Why not a vegetarian world? Or, even better, since we are dreaming, why not a vegan world? When one considers all the negatives related to the current widespread production and consumption of animal products, it is hard to believe that so few people have seen the importance of shifting to ...


Veganism’s Essential Role In Preventing an Unprecedented Global Catastrophe

This article was originally written in 2009 and has been updated in 2017, with conditions in 2017 far worse than in 2009. Synopsis: The world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global climate change and other environmental threats, and a major societal shift to plant-based (vegan) diets is an essential part of the necessary responses to avoid that catastrophe. Since methane emitted by farmed animals is in the atmosphere for less ...


Vegetarianism/Veganism and the Jewish Dietary (Kosher) Laws

Since Judaism is a religion that speaks to all aspects of life, it has much to say about one of life's most commonplace activities, eating. The Jewish dietary laws, also known as the laws of kashrut or kosher laws are extremely important in Judaism. They regulate virtually every aspect of eating for members of the Jewish community (the only dietary law given to non-Jews is to not eat a limb from a living animal). Kashrut includes: (1) which foods may ...


My Response to a Negative Review of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

Below is my response to a review of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values t Halp Heal Our Imperilled Planet" by Rabbi Natan Slifkin (“The Zoo Rabbi”), with my comments interspersed (in bold font). Material starts below. Several weeks ago, in a post entitled "How Frum Is Your Food?", I lamented how the Orthodox Jewish community (and particularly the ultra-Orthodox community) pays very little attention to ...


Frequently Asked Questions on Jewish Teachings on Animal Sacrifices and the Messianic Period

1. If God wanted us to have vegetarian diets and not harm animals, why were the Biblical sacrificial services established? During the time of Moses, it was the general practice among all nations to worship by means of sacrifice. There were many associated idolatrous practices. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides stated that God did not command the Israelites to give up and discontinue all these manners of service because "to obey such a command...


Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) Related to Judaism and Animal Treatment

There has recently been much interest in animal issues, especially related to diet, animal experimentation, and the wearing of fur. What should be the reaction of Jews to this subject? The following, in question and answer form, provides some background, and perhaps will help begin a respectful dialogue on this increasingly important topic. 1. What does Judaism teach about the proper treatment of animals? Judaism teaches that we are forbidden to ...


Frequently Asked Questions About Judaism and Vegetarianism

1. What is Jewish about vegetarianism and veganism? Note that when the word vegetarianism is used below it implies both vegetarianism and veganism. he word vegetarian implies both vegetarian and vegan. All the reasons for becoming vegetarian can be connected to important Jewish values. These include taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, helping hungry people, and seeking and ...


Jewish Teachings on Hunger and Diet

This is factsheet five of a series of five factsheets related to Jewish teachings related to vegetarianism. ---------------- A. Jewish Teachings About Reducing Hunger On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, while Jews are fasting and praying for a good year, we read in the haftorah the words of the Prophet Isaiah that fasting and prayers are not sufficient; we must work to end oppression and provide food for needy people: "Is not ...


Factsheet on Judaism and Resource Conservation

This is Factsheet four of a series of five fact sheets on Jewish teachings related to vegetarianism. ------------------ A. Jewish Teachings on Resource Conservation The prohibition against wasting or unnecessarily destroying anything of value, bal tashchit, ("thou shalt not destroy") is based on the following Torah statement: "When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy (lo tashchit) ...


Factsheet on Jewish Environmental Teachings

This is the third factsheet in a series of five A. Jewish Environmental Teachings The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. (Psalm 24:10 The Talmudic sages assert that people's role is to enhance the world as "co-partners of God in the work of creation."(Shabbat 7a) They indicate great concern about preserving the environment and preventing pollution. They state: "It is forbidden to live in a town which has no garden or greenery" ...


Factsheet on Jewish Teachings on Animals and CurrentTreatment of Animals

This is factsheet 2 of a series of five factsheets A. Jewish Teachings Regarding Animals God's tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalms 145:9). The righteous person regards the life of his/her animal. (Proverbs 12:10) It is prohibited to kill an animal with its young on the same day, in order that people should be restrained and prevented from killing the two together in such a manner that the young is slain in the sight of the mother; ...


Factsheet on Judaism and Health

A. Some Jewish Teachings on Health v'nishmartem meod l'nafshotechem ("Be extremely protective of your lives.") (Deuteronomy 4:15). You may not in any way weaken your health or shorten your life. Only if the body is healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit's activity....Therefore you should avoid everything which might possibly injure your health.... And the law asks you to be even more circumspect in avoiding danger to life and limb ...


Is the Sixth Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder”?

Is the Sixth Commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" or "Thou Shalt Not Murder"? Vegetarian and vegan activists are increasingly convinced that a shift away from animal-free diets is a societal imperative because of the significant negative health and environmental effects of such dietse, and a religious imperative because the production and consumption of animal products violate basic religious mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with ...


Are Jews Obligated to be Vegetarians?

In promoting vegetarianism since 1977, I have been arguing that Jews have a choice as to whether or not to be vegetarians. In support of the view that Jews need not eat meat today is the Talmud (Pesachim 109a states that since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jews are not required to eat meat in order to rejoice on festivals), scholarly articles by Rabbi Alfred Cohen and Rabbi J. David Bleich that indicate additional sources and arguments ...


Environmental and Vegetarian/Vegan Lessons from the Shabbat Morning Service

While there has been recent progress on Jewish consideration of environmental and vegetarian issues, much more needs to be done. One approach is to show how central these issues are in the Jewish tradition. This article discusses several statements in the Shabbat morning prayers that point to Judaism's great concern about animals and the environment. In the Baruch Sheh'amar prayer, it states that, "Blessed is the One (God) Who has compass...


Is Eating Meat a Mitzvah that Comes from an Aveirah (Sin)?

Judaism places much stress on performing mitzvot, carrying out God's commandments. However, a "mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah" - a mitzvah based on an aveirah (sin or "illegitimate means") - is forbidden and is not considered a mitzvah. For example, if one uses a stolen lulav and esrog on Sukkot, it is not a proper mitzvah. Similarly, if money is stolen, it cannot be used to give tzedakah (charity). In fact, the sages indicate that it is better not to do ...


Vegetarianism: Essential for Jewish Renewal

Spirituality has led to a growing awareness of the unity of all beings, of our fundamental interconnectedness. For some this reflection has stayed on the level of purely personal enlightenment without much manifestation in behavior, but for others this understanding has led to a greater sense of responsibility, first toward all other human beings, and second toward animals. One form that this awareness takes is a growing move toward vegetarianism and ...


Rabbinic Teachings on Vegetarianism

Introduction: Many Jews think that vegetarianism and animal rights issues are not part of basic Judaism. To counter this belief the following quotations of important rabbis are presented. Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael While not a vegetarian, Rabbi Hirsch, one of the most important Orthodox rabbis of the 19th century, expressed very eloquently and powerfully ideas based on Torah values that are consistent with ...


What foreign policy is most consistent with Jewish values?

This is Chapter 7 of the 2nd edition of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values t Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet." -------------- "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." — Dwight D. Eisenhower "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the effect of ...