The Ten Commandments From the Earth

Dictated to Rain Zohav

(Words in italics are directly from the earth, words in plain text are the “practical rabbinics” of the commandment, dictated by the various elements most effected by this particular commandment)

  1. I am the Earth, your home, who contains all the elements necessary for your life. I was here before earthlings arrived.

    Think about what we would do differently if we really thought about the earth as part of creation rather than our possession.
  2. You Shall Have No Other Earths Beside Me. You are not to worship a false, human identified perfection such as a “perfect” lawn, or a fruit that has not been shared with an insect, for I am an impassioned earth, visiting the sins of the parents upon the children, upon the third and fourth generations, but showing loyalty and abundance to those who love me.

    If you do not stop using pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, in the service of the gods of greed, convenience and comfort, your sins will surely be visited upon the third and fourth generations, manifested by poisoned rivers, clogged bays, and in balances in the natural order that will eventually lead to crop failure. Right now, the bees that pollinate most of your fruit tree, nut trees and grain crops are threatened. Stop using these products on your lawns and gardens. Work with others to get your businesses, schools, towns and states to stop using these products. Buy organic produce.
  3. Do Not take The Name of the Earth in Vain.

    Although some plastics are able to be recycled, using plastics is not ultimately an earth friendly activity. They are all made from non-renewable, petrochemical bases and can never biodegrade. Stop using Styrofoam altogether and work to eliminate its use from your businesses, schools, and synagogues. Ask for paper bags at the grocery store, or better yet, bring your own cotton string bags or canvas bags with you. Buy a few good wooden toys instead of the endless plastic you are used to. Don’t call yourself an environmentalist unless you are taking steps to protect the earth for future generations.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day of your car. Six days may you drive, but on the seventh you shall walk, bike or take public transportation. In fact, do not do anything on the Shabbat day that changes earth. I, the earth need a rest from your ceaseless activity. It took eons for me to evolve, but you can destroy so much in one generation. By not driving you can help preserve me.

    If you find that there is no grocery, cleaners, barber shop, pizza place, bank, video rental store, day care, bank , etc. in walking distance to your house, you may need to work with others to change the zoning laws in your neighborhood to allow such businesses to exist. Cars are the single most destructive consumer product that you use, being a huge factor in sudden, unpredictable global climate change. Check out the website: Walkscore.com to see how your location compares to others as a good walkable location, or to investigate where you might want to move to. Check out the website: walkable.org to see how to improve where you live now.
  5. Honor Your Mother Earth and Your Father Sky, that You May Long Endure on the Land which the Universe is Giving You.

    One way to honor the earth is to plant trees. During its lifetime, the average tree absorbs enough CO2 to offset the amount produced by driving a car 26,000 miles. (However, if we do not drastically reduce our output of CO2, Americans would have to plant 4,500 trees per person to absorb all of the CO2 we put into the atmosphere). Another way to honor the earth is to plant a variety of flowers, herbs and trees that are native to the area where you live.
  6. You Shall Not Murder Other Species.

    Rain forest destruction is the biggest destroyer of species happening at the moment. Don’t buy products made from tropical hardwoods such as teak and mahogany. Don’t eat beef grown on former rain forests. It is possible to find out where your food comes from. Switching to a vegetarian diet, or reducing your meat consumption also helps reduce pollution of rivers and bays, thus saving marine species, helps conserve water and contributes to a larger grain supply to help feed the world’s hungry people. Yes, grain surpluses do occasionally reach the Third World.
  7. You Shall Not Be Unfaithful in Your Marriage to the Earth.

    What really would this look like? All of the above and all of the below and anything else you can think of to love, cherish and protect the earth. What are you already doing and what is one more thing you can commit to doing for the earth?
  8. You Shall Not Steal From the Earth.

    When we use non-renewable resources up and when we use renewable resources up at a rate that is faster that can be replaced; we are stealing from the earth. About 25% of the earth’s mineral resources and nonrenewable energy is used by the United State, which only comprises 4.6% of the world’s population. One proposed solution to this trend is to include the full cost of using these materials in the price. Full cost includes a calculation regarding limited supply and environmental destruction. Conservation methods are a way of stealing less from the earth. Don’t run the water when you are brushing your teeth. Hang up laundry on sunny days. Use recycled products. Recycle paper, glass, aluminum, plastic. Encourage people at work and at school to recycle. Using renewable energy sources is another option. Investigate using a solar panel for your hot water. Some people have even been able to sell electricity back to the electric company. Find out how to eliminate your junk mail at: https://mailstopper.tonic.com/
  9. You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against the Earth.

    In the United States there has been a huge disinformation campaign regarding global warming and other environmental crises. This campaign has been paid for by major polluters and users of nonrenewable resources, or users of renewable resources at unsustainable rates, such as oil companies, mining companies, the timber industry, automobile manufacturers, etc. There actually is no major disagreement about environmental issues in the general world-wide community of scientists. If you see or hear a scientist saying that the threat of global warming has been exaggerated, for example, it would be wise to find out who is paying his grant money. Don’t repeat this misinformation that leads to complacency.
  10. You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Planet. You Shall Not Covet Your neighbor’s House … or Anything that is Your Neighbor’s”. This includes your neighbor’s sports utility vehicle (a huge gas guzzler), Your neighbor’s three story high vaulted ceiling (another huge energy waster), your neighbor’s power lawn mower, leaf blower, saw, or lush green lawn grown with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

    In the words of Kurt Vonnegut: “Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship.” Even if each of you only chose one thing to change, together, we could make a difference. For instance, between 1972 and 1992, the estimated percentage of rivers and lakes in the United States that have become fishable and swim able rose from 36% to 62%, thanks to enactment and enforcement of water pollution laws.

Much of the environmental material in this document was culled from the textbook, Environmental Science, G. Tyler Miller. Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California, 1997.

The original inspiration was of course, The Torah, Exodus 20: 1- 14.