What do Jews think about endangered species and preserving the environment?
The answer will surprise you. And it comes in this week’s Torah portion.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the great flood related in this week’s chapter is the fact that over 4,000 years ago Noah was commanded to gather and house pairs of animals in order to save them and repopulate a world destroyed by the raging waters – in effect, launching the first and greatest animal preservation effort ever. And one as relevant today as it was then.
But why? If God wanted to ensure the animals’ survival, He could have found many other ways to protect them. Why the need to have Noah go through the trouble of gathering all the species, certainly an arduous and complicated process? Indeed, caring for and coexisting with the animals on board the ark was quite dangerous and actually ended up injuring Noah.
Yet, this great effort contains fascinating – and surprisingly very contemporary and timely – lessons about our interdependent relationships with the animal kingdom and the environment in which we live.
As we read the story of Noah and his ark once again, it is a time to consider the value of the animal kingdom and what it has to teach us.
From birds, bees, insects, camels and elephants, we receive a plethora of lessons – how to co-exist, make the best use of our talents, and be more ethical as human beings.
How often do we look far and wide for answers to our big dilemmas, when the answer may be right before our very eyes?