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Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Updating Jewish Law to include fighting climate change extinction

‘How many Orthodox rabbis does it take to change a lightbulb?’ ‘Change?!’

Some people assume that Jewish Law never changes. That’s only half-true.

One of the great values of Jewish Law is that it can’t be made to fit what’s most convenient or in vogue. Its foundation is built on eternal, unalterable, Wisdom of the (S)ages, Truth, Justice, and Virtue.

Yet, we live in a dynamic world. You can’t just give old legal answers if they don’t fit modern questions. The Framework of Jewish Law doesn’t change but the Reality we see through its window does.

A known example. It says in the old Books that women are exempt from counting the ‘Omer because generally, they’re weak in math. That’s clearly not true of the average Jewish woman anymore. So, the Law changed. Now we say that, based on our Tradition, women should count the ‘Omer in the morrow so that clearly, they do so without saying a Blessing over it.

Grounds for change. There are several ways that G^d talks to us, also now we have no Prophets around anymore. (You don’t need to be a prophet to know why some people today claim that G^d talks to them.)

  1. When the Torah is read, we hear G^d’s Word.
  2. When we pray from the bottom of our hearts, we think His response.
  3. When Jews argue about Jewish Law, we argue with Him.
  4. When Reality shouts us in the face, G^d talks to us in real-time.

Religious Jews mustn’t leave problems to G^d. ‘When you see a problem, it is your task to solve it.’ (It doesn’t say we should go it alone or will see success in our generation. But we should take leadership or support a leader already truly dedicated to rectification of the ill.) Examples:

When people are starving, we need to get them food. When people suffer from cold or heat or rain, we must find them comfortable shelter. When people are sick, we send for a physician. When people are lonely, we befriend them. When people are poor, we try to give them a paying job or interest-free loan. When people are in danger, we try to bring them (to) safety. When people are down, we try to cheer them up after listening to them at length. We don’t stay passive claiming G^d willed it like that. He willed our action in the face of evil, that’s what He willed.

Climate change 101. In the Northern part of Planet Earth lies a gigantic area that is permanently frozen. And, it is defrosting. That is extremely bad news. Locked in the permafrost is more CO2 than in all of the world’s air. When that gets out, we’re all dead meat. There is no solution yet. We live on the brink of extinction. Getting hopeless is as unhelpful as living in denial. When G^d demands action, we act. In addition, we must pray that our actions will succeed. But we don’t pray instead of saving our souls.

Our leading rabbis must learn physics and biochemistry fast so that they can tell us that we have to go green (small carbon footprint) in months rather than years, must become green activists, and force our politicians.

They must also order all Jews new to Science and activism to listen with much respect and learn fast and deeply from people long in the know.

Success isn’t ruled out, but we’ve no time to lose. We need drastic action.

Like: Advise not to vote for politicians unless they promise to make public transportation (but not planes) immediately completely free of charge.

Like: Advise to reduce meat consumption to a minimum. This food is too expensive, too unhealthy, but mostly too dangerous for the planet. When meat is obligatory for religious reasons (for those who like the taste), in an emergency, the required amount is just 18 cm3/gram per person per meal.

Like: Advise to vacation and shop locally as much as your budget allows. When local is more expensive, the difference you can consider charity.

Like: That climate-change deniers are like malsheeneem, Jews who falsely complain to Antisemitic authorities which could get us all killed.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble.
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