Now that it’s summer, I get to go out into my back yard and pick, literally, the fruits of my labor. That would be a fig tree. My wife and I look forward to this time of year when we are inundated with a delicious fruit that contains B vitamins, iron and potassium, among other things, as well as that all-important fiber.
We also have a date palm, but we don’t really deal with it that much. In ancient Israel, they did eat a lot of dates and in fact make beer out of it. In the front yard we have an orange tree. I’m not really too sure about this because those oranges are very tart and it’s really tough to eat them. I’ve found that I can take this wonderful source of vitamin C and squeeze it into hot water—since they usually ripen mid to late fall—and have a wonderfully tart hot beverage.
What does this have to do with Judaism?
Let’s consider the fact that we live on a planet where, if we are careful and attentive, we have our needs provided for us. Earth provides all sorts of delicious food. We have a variety of grains—wheat, rice, barley—that provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbohydrates; fruits (some of which we just mentioned); vegetables as well with their respective nutrients.
This planet provides a variety of animal life (including fish and fowl) that also provide food. Some of these animals provide dairy. Many of them are capable of “heavy lifting” provide power for farming tools.
Finally, we have all sorts of natural resources—like trees to provide wood and a variety of metal ore—that we can use for building and providing the raw materials for building and technology. All of which makes our lives easier and more pleasant.
What are the odds, then, that all this just happened? What are the odds that the same planet that provided for human life, also provided for the sustenance of that life? Did all this happen by chance, a cosmic roll of the dice?
It would be easy to say that without all of things coming together, there would be no life. And of course, let’s not leave out the fact that our planet is just the right distance from the right type of star that provides just the right amount of light and heat. This is probably why many people do not believe in extraterrestrial life; what are the odds of all this coming together in other places in the galaxy, let alone the whole Universe?
But this is not a treatise or discussion on aliens from other planets. This, of course, is a treatise on the existence of G-d. Certainly, there is a validity—as much as I would hate to acknowledge—that this planet and all its life and bountiful materials—is the result of a roll of the dice. A trillion to one odds, maybe.
Or, this is the result of a Supreme Being with Omniscience, that designed the whole thing. Consider that the Divine Being, whom we come together each week to acknowledge, praise and worship, put all this together just for use. He (or She) wanted material physical beings created in His Divine Image with His Divine Spark to do His work in the physical realm. And to sustain us, he gave us everything we’d need to survive and growth.
This, then, is a treatise on two ideas. The first is the existence of G-d, that there is more going on than just odds. The other treatise—and it is mentioned in this week’s Torah portion—is that since Earth is here for our benefit and our use, we need to care of it. We need to treat it as G-d’s creation. To do any less would be to disrespect HaShem. We need to use the resources to the best of our ability with the utmost respect.
This leads to another concept. As we respect and treat our environment with respect and manage optimally our ecosystem, so are we to do with our own bodies. Our bodies are created in the Divine image as well and are a gift from G-d. We are really only “borrowing” these bodies, and when we’re done with them, we give them back.
One interpretation of Deuteronomy 4:15 is to take care of ourselves, our bodies. If we are not in the best health, we can’t worship HaShem fully, as the Shema commands us. Some consider this an admonishment to not smoke or drink, or eat bad foods.