Sometimes religion doesn’t catch up to current circumstances as fast as it needs to, says Tanhum Yoreh, a scholar of religion and environment and an assistant professor in the School of the Environment in the Faculty of Arts & Science.
Yoreh’s new book, Waste Not: A Jewish Environmental Ethic, aims to build bridges between ancient wisdom and contemporary global challenges so that faith communities have accessible pathways to environmental engagement.
“Faiths and religions haven’t really been at the tip of the spear of the environmental movement,” he says. “But religion is an organized structure that can have a strong impact on the hearts and minds of people who are connected to it — if faith leaders wanted to activate that power.”
Focusing on the Jewish concept of bal tashḥit — a prohibition against wastefulness and destruction — Yoreh’s book traces how the prohibition has been historically interpreted and how it might be relevant to today’s climate crisis.
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