Home » D'var Torah » Eco-Kosher’s Biblical Roots

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R’EIH, DEUTERONOMY 11:26–16:17

For almost twenty-five years, since his article, “Toward an Ethical Kashrut,” was published with Rebecca Alpert in the journal Reconstructionist in the spring of 1987,1 Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been talking about standards of kashrut that extend beyond the traditional ritual requirements. In his book Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life,2 he asks some questions that illustrate his extended definition of what could be included in an expanded, more contemporary understanding of kashrut:

  1. Are tomatoes grown by drenching the earth in pesticides “kosher” to eat, at home, or at a synagogue wedding reception?
  2. Is newsprint made by chopping down ancient and irreplaceable forest “kosher” to use to make a Jewish newspaper?
  3. What about windows and doors so built that the warm air flows out through them and the furnace keeps burning all night? Are such doors and windows “kosher” for a home or for a Jewish Community Center building?
  4. Is a bank that deposits its depositor’s money in an oil company that befouls the ocean a “kosher” place for me or for the UJA to deposit money?

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