Member since 2011

Richard Schwartz

Featured Causes: Judaism and Vegetarianism, climate change


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Do Torah Teachings Justify Animal Exploitation?

DO TORAH TEACHINGS JUSTIFY ANIMAL EXPLOITATION? Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Many apologists for the exploitation of animals seek justification in scripture, but their presumption is largely due to the misunderstanding of two important Torah verses that, when properly conceived, actually endorse the struggle to improve conditions for animals. The first misunderstanding is that the Torah teaching that humans are granted ...


A Fictional Dialogue on Shavuot Night About Vegetarianism

Richard Schwartz For many years Danny Shapiro looked forward to staying up all night at his synagogue with his friends on the first night of Shavuot, hearing talks about and discussing Torah teachings. This year he especially anticipated this annual commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, because Rabbi Greenberg would be meeting with Danny and other college students for an hour at 3 AM to answer any questions on ...


Shavuot and Vegetarianism

Shavuot and Vegetarianism By Richard H. Schwartz There are many connections between vegetarianism and the important Jewish festival of Shavuot: 1. Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the season of the giving of our law (the Torah)). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, dietary regimen: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all ...


A Shavuot Message: Applying Torah Values To Our Diets

A Shavuot Message: Applying Torah Values To Our Diets By Richard H. Schwartz Since Shavuot is z'man matan Torateinu (the commemoration of the giving of the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai), many dedicated religious Jews admirably stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to hear talks about and discuss Torah teachings. Among these Torah teachings are that Jews should preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, ...


Some Jewish Environmental Thoughts for Earth Day

Some Jewish Environmental Thoughts for Earth Day Richard H. Schwartz And the Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him into the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.--Genesis 2:15 The earth was not created as a gift to you. You have been given to the earth, to treat it with respectful consideration, as God’s earth, and everything on it [must be seen] as God’s creation, and [animals recognized as] your fellow ...


Lag B’Omer and Vegetarianism

Lag B’Omer & Vegetarianism: Making Every Day Count Daniel Brook & Richard H. Schwartz Lag B’Omer, which begins after sundown on Saturday, April 27 in 2013, is considered a minor Jewish holiday, but even a minor holiday provides valuable lessons and is worth celebrating. A great way to celebrate Lag B’Omer is through vegetarianism, as Lag B’Omer has many vegetarian connections. Lag B’Omer represe...


Jewish Teachings on the Environment (Part 1)

Jewish Teachings on the Environment (Part 1) by Richard Schwartz With Earth Day approaching (April 22), it is a good time to consider some of Judaism’s powerful teachings on the environment. Some people argue that humankind has been given a license to exploit the earth and its creatures, because God gave us “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creeps upon the earth” (Genesis ...


Imagining a Vegan World

Imagining a Vegan World


Environmental Connections to Passover

Environmental Connections to Passover By Richard H. Schwartz In view of the many current environmental crises that face the world today, this is a good time to consider environmental messages related to Passover and the events and concepts related to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt: 1. Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues: * When we consider the threats to our land, ...


Freeing Ourselves at Passover From Harmful Eating

Freeing Ourselves at Passover from Harmful Eating Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Jews commendably go to extraordinary lengths before and during Passover to avoid certain foods, in keeping with Torah mitzvot. But at the same time, we continue eating other foods that, by Torah standards, are hardly ideal. On Passover, Jews are prohibited from eating, owning, or otherwise benefiting from chometz. Chometz are foods such as ...


Parshat Tzav: How Meat Consumption Today Differs from 
The Time of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the Wilderness

Parshat Tzav: How Meat Consumption Today Differs from 
The Time of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the Wilderness Richard H. Schwartz, PhD And that which is left thereof [from the meal-offering] shall Aaron and his sons eat; it shall be eaten without leaven in a holy place; in the tent of meeting they shall eat it. . . . it is most holy as the sin-offering and the guilt-offering. 
Leviticus 6:9.10

 When the Jewish people were in the wilderness ...


Passover and Vegetarianism

Passover and Vegetarianism By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Passover and vegetarianism? Can the two be related? After all, what is a Seder without gefilte fish, chicken soup, chopped liver, chicken, and other meats? And what about the shank bone to commemorate the paschal sacrifice? And doesn't Jewish law mandate that Jews eat meat to rejoice on Passover and other Jewish festivals? An increasing number of Jews are turning to vegetaria...


Environmental connections to Passover

Environmental Connections to Passover By Richard H. Schwartz In view of the many current environmental crises that face the world today, this pre-Passover period is a good time to consider environmental messages related to the holiday and the events and concepts related to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt: 1. Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues: * When we consider the ...


A Vision for Judaism in this Time of Multiple Crises

A Vision for Judaism in This Time of Multiple Crises Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Here is my long-held vision for Judaism in this time of multiple crises: To be a Jew is to see the world through the eyes of God, to be unreconciled to the world as it is, to be discontented with the status quo and unafraid to challenge it. To be a Jew is to be a co-worker with God in the task of perfecting the world, to know that the world remains unredeemed ...


A Vegetarian Purimshpiel

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? A Vegetarian Purimshpiel Richard Schwartz Reb Henna taught: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Clearly, the chicken. How do we know this? We learn from the Book of Esther that when Mordecai asked Esther to go before King Ahashveros to plead for the Jewish people, she was 'chicken,' fearing for her life. Only when Mordecai 'egged' her on, telling ...


Purim and Vegetarianism

Purim and Vegetarianism By Richard Schwartz There are many connections between the joyous holiday of Purim and vegetarianism: 1. According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus. She was thus able to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. 2. During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not evyonim" (added charity to ...


Celebrating Tu Bishvat as if Environmental Sustainability Matters

Celebrating Tu Bishvat as if Environmental Sustainability Matters Richard H. Schwartz Since Tu Bishvat, the “New Year for Trees,” has increasingly become a “Jewish Earth Day,” why not use Tu Bishvat Seders as, among other things, a time to consider how we can effectively respond to current environmental crises that threaten all life on the planet? The world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe, severe food, water, and ...


Turning Tu Bishvat Into an “Environmental Shabbat”

TURNING TU BISHVAT INTO AN “ENVIRONMENTAL SHABBAT” Richard H. Schwartz Many contemporary Jews are increasingly looking at Tu Bishvat as a Jewish “Earth Day,” and using Tu Bishvat seders as occasions to discuss how Jewish values can be applied to reduce many of today's ecological threats. This is more important than ever today in view of the many environmental problems currently facing Israel and our planet. ...


Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism

Tu B'Shvat and Vegetarianism Richard H. Schwartz Tu B'Shvat is arguably the most vegetarian of Jewish holidays, because of its many connections to vegetarian themes and concepts: 1. The Tu B'Shvat Seder in which fruits and nuts are eaten, along with the singing of songs and the recitation of biblical verses related to trees and fruits, is the only sacred meal where only vegetarian, actually vegan, foods, are eaten. This is consistent with the diet in ...


Why Is This Night Different? Thoughts on Tu Bishvat

WHY IS THIS NIGHT DIFFERENT? THOUGHTS ON TU BISHVAT Richard H. Schwartz One of the highlights of the Passover Seder is the recitation of the four questions that consider how the night of Passover differs from all the other nights of the year. Many questions are also appropriate for Tu Bishvat, which starts on Friday evening, January 25 in 2013, because of the many ways that this holiday differs from Passover and all other days of the year. While ...