Rabbi Ben-Zion Algazi
Rabbi Ben-Zion AlgaziArutz Sheva

Tsurba Institute founder and head of the Beit Midrash of the Ramat Gan hesder yeshiva Rabbi Ben-Zion Algazi spoke at the Arutz Sheva studio in Jerudalem about the UN climate summit which is currently being held in Glasgow, Scotland and Judaism's attitudes towards the climate and environment.

Rabbi Algazi rejects the view that sees environmental issues as far removed from the world of religious Zionism. "It hurts and it is very painful to attribute all global responsibility to one side of the map. This is not the case. The world of halakhah in Judaism does not overlook anything from parts of our way of life. Preserving the climate and the environment is also part of the world of halakhah and Judaism."

The rabbi presents halakhic sources which deal with these issues, the first of which is the fact that the first man was created in heaven and was given a responsibility to not corrupt the world, a directive that is broader than keeping from sin and means keeping the whole world from being corrupted and destroyed.

Rabbi Algazi clarifies that he does not refer to what is currently defined as the 'climate religion' but to the responsibility of the individual to exercise environmental responsibility from the world of halakhah.

Is it possible to rule on new laws around issues of climate and environmental protection? Rabbi Algazi says that as part of the Tsurba institute's activities, the 'Tsurba in Parsha' is being held for the third year in a row in which one halakhic theme is taken from this week's parsha and this theme is studied and developed for many different channels. In this year, the shemita year, the subject taught is man and his environment.

"Every week I take one topic from an affair related to the human environment," says Rabbi Algazi. "For example, this week I am dealing with animal hunting following Yitzhak's request, is hunting according to Halakha permissible or forbidden, should a person eat meat in the first place or is it a lust, as 'because your soul desires to eat meat', killing an animal on Shabbat, hunting as a hobby, etc. Every week we deal with one issue from the parsha and I have not yet dealt with one parsha that does not deal with environmental issues."

Rabbi Algazi mentions the chapter in Baba Batra that deals with how to build a city through the environmental aspect of the issue, how to direct the smoke in the city, how to deal with environmental disturbances such as garbage collectors and more. The issue of disposable tools can certainly be included in such questions, and out of a clean halakhic approach and regardless of contemporary political noise. "When noises start, something sounds bad, but when it comes from real experts, it's different," says Rabbi Algazi.

In his remarks, a lot of Algazi compares the appeal of the world of halakhah to medical experts on questions such as eating on Yom Kippur to the duty of consulting the world of halakhah with experts also on environmental issues before deciding a ruling in real time. Just as a person's private decisions on personal health requires questions to an expert, a doctor, so too the question of the health of the many requires a question from an expert and his opinion.

Another example Rabbi Algazi mentions about the prohibition pf needless waste that originates in the Torah is the prohibition on destroying trees. Another source is the duty to put railings on roofs which concerns not only the railing but the duty of the person to prevent damage caused by him and his property. "The destruction of the whole world also requires a railing for the roof of us all. We need to open our eyes and see what is happening with the whole world that we pray for every Rosh Hashanah. We have a national and global personal responsibility."