Eco Rabbi: Stones and Health


It once happened that a farmer was removing stones from his field and putting them onto a public thoroughfare. There was a certain pious person who challenged the farmer: “Why are you taking stones from what is not yours and putting them onto what belongs to you?” The farmer just laughed.

Some time afterward, that farmer fell into need and sold the field. Walking along in that very place, the farmer stumbled on the rocks, and said, “It was not for nothing that the pious one said to me, ‘Look, you are removing stones from what is not yours and putting them onto what belongs to you!’”

Tosefta Baba Kamma 10:2

At the beginning of the industrial revolution we learned to throw out our garbage into the public thoroughfare: into the seas, the air, buried in the ground… Today we are stumbling over the stones we have littered our thoroughfare with. Living in a green lifestyle is about rediscovering what to do with the stones when we come across them, when we find them in our own field and littered across our path in the thoroughfare.

Here’s another story..

Two people were once fighting over a piece of land. Each claimed ownership, and each bolstered the claim with apparent proof. After arguing for a long time, they agreed to resolve their conflict by putting the case before a rabbi. The rabbi sat as an arbitrator and listened carefully, but despite years of legal training the rabbi could not reach a decision. Both parties seemed to be right. Finally the rabbi said, “Since I cannot decide to whom this land belongs, let’s ask the land.” The rabbi put an ear to the ground, and after a moment stood up. “My friends, the land said it belongs to neither of you – but that you belong to it.”

Folk tale, source unknown.

There is a medieval belief that we are created by the land we live in. In the right environment the perfect human can be cultivated. It is through this belief that the belief that one race is better than another is justified, they just developed inferior.

I would not take it to that extent, however, we belong to our land and it has a much greater influence upon us than we are aware. A healthier environment, I am sure, will create healthier people. Let us clean up our fields and thoroughfare, perhaps we can even use the stones to build with…

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3 thoughts on “Eco Rabbi: Stones and Health”

  1. james says:

    great piece Jack. It has a very Celtic flavour too (not just the pic, which looks like North Scotland, or maybe Eire) … promoting similarities between An Gaelige & Eretz Israel: cultural & philosophical ties, maybe?

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