Jewish Energy Guide: Thou Shalt Conserve Energy

By Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb

Through the Talmud and other scholarly works, Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb examines the implication of bal taschit, “thou shalt not waste,” and how this commandment of conservation can be adhered to today.

Thou shalt conserve energy” is not a biblical commandment, narrowly speaking, but it’s close. After all, the Torah’s 529th (530th by some counts) commandment, bal taschit, has long been commonly understood to mean “thou shalt not waste,” a principle that as far back as the Talmud specifically includes not wasting energy. Other laws and ideas point in this direction as well. While of course energy conservation is not the consistently overriding consideration in such a gloriously wide ranging tradition where other values are also at play, but conserving energy is squarely within our tradition — a central concern.

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The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL's Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology's Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy. The guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.

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