The Obligation to Create New Generations Produces an Obligation to Preserve the World for Them

Inspired not so much by the spectacle of diplomats and heads of state riding their jets to Glasgow for a climate-change conference as by the fact that this year is shmitah, during which the Bible forbids reaping and sowing, Rabbi Benayahu Tavila reflects on what duties ḥaredi Jews have toward the environment. Tavila sees as a key source for such a duty a classical rabbinic commentary to Ecclesiastes, which has God telling Adam, “Beware that you should not destroy and ruin my world.” But this duty is not absolute; rather it stands in tension with the biblical command to “fill the earth and subdue it.”

What is the cost of humanity’s extractive invasion of nature? One cost is to our self-image. Having conquered technological peaks that were hitherto science-fiction at best, we now see ourselves as being capable of virtually anything. Society sees neither technological nor (given the great benefits) moral limits to its progress, and therefore no limits to how much human beings ought to manipulate nature. But we should always remember that we do not own the earth. God does. He made the world a certain way. Harm to creation consists in destroying the capacities with which it is endowed by God.

There is a point at which the planet will not be sufficiently able to replenish itself for our children and grandchildren to enjoy what we enjoy. Technological progress without restraint means living at the expense of the unborn. This is neither halalkhically acceptable nor morally permissible.

Thus, unlike some secular environmentalists who see human procreation as itself a threat to the planet, Tavila sees in the divine command to populate the earth an obligation to preserve it:

The human’s ability to rule the world derives from his similarity to God. . . . But the commandment of conquest and dominion follows from an earlier instruction to to “be fruitful and multiply.” The plain meaning of the text refers to another, additional aspect: the ability to create, and especially to procreate. Adam himself creates “in his own image and likeness.” Even man creates in God’s image.

Our basic responsibility to the world derives from our responsibility to observe the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” . . . and this commandment itself requires us to ensure we leave future generations with resources.

Read more at Tzarich Iyun

More about: Environmentalism, Genesis, Haredim, Jewish environmentalism, Judaism, Shmita, Technology

 

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security