Chapter 1 deals with partnership; the first word in the tract is "ha-shutafin" (lit: the partnership). The subject is the ability of a society's - relatively small though it may be - to perpetuate relationships of partnership and mutual responsibility. An important doctrine that relates indirectly to our topic in this chapter is: "Partners of a courtyard must share in the expense of building a gate or a door to it. ... An inhabitant of a city has to share in the building of a wall around the city, with the doors and the bolts." (Baba Batra I, 5). Theoretically, what is described here is a process that contradicts accepted environmental procedures,

2 Two essays are significant, we believe: The third chapter in Nahum Rakover: The Environment - Ideological and Legal Aspects in Jewish Sources, Jerusalem, 5754 (pp. 47-76), deals with environmental pollution, and contains a sub-heading on air pollution (pp. 65-70), where the Halachic approach is clearly expressed. In Mansfred Gerstenfeld's book, The Environment in Jewish Tradition - a Sustainable World, Jerusalem, 2002, the emphasis is directly ideological, a development of ideas that may be relevant through maximal use of the Bible (one interesting example is the discussion of the Manna - the perfect food, pp. 81-82). The author also has tried to take the same approach in his essay, Y. Rozenson: And It Was Very Good, Jerusalem 5762.

the fortification of a society within its own defined and limiting boundary - those of the land within the land and those of the city within the city - alongside the demarcation ("a gate or a door," "a wall around the city, with the doors and the bolts") that protects them from the threatening exterior. Simplistically read, the exterior represents flesh-and-blood enemies; taken on a more symbolic level, it represents the opposite of civilization, which threatens to intrude upon and disrupt the daily life of an urban setting. In fact, there is no intention of being involved in this exterior or to change it, but rather to protect one's self from it in the manner in which a civilization normally protects itself. We should reiterate that protecting civilization from its outside enemies is a task undertaken by force of mutual responsibility. A society's self-organization, which is based on the model of protection and partnership to the point where the means of protection may be enforced upon the individual (him), may serve as the foundation for protection against a new enemy of society - the ecological hazard. The walls that are erected by this protective organization will, of course, be of a totally different kind, as we will clarify here.


The tract deals with substantial hazards - one of which will be the topic of our next section - and the general collaboration for their prevention. In dealing with the general structure of these chapters, one should stress that the issue of Hazaka (lit: occupancy), that is, the determination of private ownership over assets, only arises later on, in Chapter 3: "The law of hazakah is, if one has occupied any property for three years from date to date ... and this applies to houses, pits, excavations, caves, pigeon-coops, bath-houses, press-houses, dry land, slaves, and the same is with all other articles which bring fruit frequently." (Baba Batra III, 1) Thus, the structure is as follows: (1) partnership and its expression in an area; (2) partnership as a way of dealing with various hazards; (3) occupancy.

We will not deal herein with the actual law, but with the implications of the arrangement, and we assume - of course - that the literary order of the tract is manifest and meaningful. The tract is not a coincidental conglomeration of doctrines! And we attach great ideological importance to the precedence of rules of partnership to those of occupancy - a form of purchase, the formation of private ownership: first comes the ability to generate a relationship based on responsibility toward one's fellow man and society, and only then the means of private purchase. Through methodical study of the tract from beginning to end, one internalizes first the idea of partnership as a prerequisite for ownership; within this framework and on its basis, communal ability to mobilize for the prevention of hazards is incorporated; the latter derives from partnership and precedes ownership, since responsibility precedes ownership.

These simple ideas, entrenched in the tracts formulation, do not directly bear upon the problems of atmospheric hazards; but they offer a wide ideological basis for discussing the topic.


The principles that may guide an educational discussion on the problem of global warming can be derived from specific doctrines. Here, we will deal with one of them "A barn must not be placed within 50 ells of the town; the same is the case if one wishes to make a barn on his own property - he may do so, provided he has 50 ells of space on each side of it. One must also remove a barn from the plants and from the newly ploughed field of his neighbor ... to prevent any harm to the plants or the field" (Baba Batra II 8).

This doctrine allows for the following association. On the left, we have disassembled the doctrine to its elements, and on the right we provide a basic ecological interpretation to the elements: Thus, the city, which in the previous chapter - by force of partnership - was enclosed by a protective wall (Baba Batra I 5), is now protected through entirely different means: not using a physical wall that may prevent manifestations of external violence, but through the legislative prevention of a trivial hazard deriving from simple activities - a hazard that is theoretically unpreventable: who could imagine life without a barn?!3 A barn, indeed, bears little relationship to global warming; but it presents us with an ideological basis for comparison, if only thanks to the atmospheric association, but mainly because the heat is a result of essential circumstances that are basic benefits to humans, and which - however - need to be distanced from others (Table 1).

Table 1. Old terms and their meanings.

A barn must not be placed within fifty ells of the town

If one wishes to make a barn on his own property, he may do so, provided he has fifty ells of space on each side One must also remove a barn from the ... field of his neighbor to prevent any harm to the plants or the field

A sustainable hazard related to the air An acceptable ecological reality is created Quantification/explanation of that reality An inhabited area/civilization Creating an acceptable ecological reality is the responsibility of the individual The terms

The responsibility is on the individual The rationale

3A similar interpretation may also be widely applied to the following doctrine: "Carcasses, cemeteries, and tanneries must be removed to a distance of fifty ells. A tannery must not be established except on the east side of the city; R. Akiva, however, maintains that it may be established on every side except the west, and a space of fifty ells is to be left" (Baba Batra II 9). However, this is beyond the scope of this discussion.

The structure of this specific doctrine is also noteworthy: in brief, the use of indicative expressions - "must not be placed," "if one wishes," "he has (left) 50 ells of space." There is a movement from the general to the specific. At first, reference is to the general (public): it "must be placed." Then, moving on to the private individual: "if one wishes." Finally, symmetrically, we return to the distancing, but in singular: "he has left." The kernel of the structure is the limitation: "must not be place;" but this is enveloped in the distancing that indicates the individual's ability to restrain and concede.

The movement in the doctrine from the general to the individual ("it must be" - "he has") is the same movement that reflects the situation of the individual within a communal society. Here, we have, not only the obligation that falls upon some form of communal authority, but also - and perhaps primarily - upon each of the community members to avoid harming a neighbor or a friend. This is an individual task and not just a public duty. The structure is conditional upon limiting personal attributes and psychologically fostering a structure that generates feelings of closeness and empathy. Under these circumstances, a technical ecological ruling becomes a means of augmenting membership and communal fraternity.

It is possible to consider the ramifications of the above on global warming. On the basis of the presentation of the above doctrine, we can imagine a metaphorical development from a small example to a greater one. The barn is a super-structure that represents damage to space and air - the atmosphere. But it is also important to demonstrate that this is a personal problem: each one of us is instructed to distance -not merely the collective or the central authority. We shall now take a sample hazard/nuisance and - based on this example - examine the wider implications.

Theoretically, a clearly utilitarian approach is being demonstrated - ecology for humans, the need to rally around the ecological banner; otherwise human benefit within the community will not be achieved. We must demonstrate restraint through partnership, relinquish rights so that others - and consequently ourselves -will be able to continue existing. Can we, through the power of such ecology, protect the planet in general? Can the barn represent a different kind of hazard than that in which its activities are traditionally rooted? This may be the case and - as in the barn whose basic danger (the chaff) is inherent - the basic fear of global warming may be raised. Indeed, the inherent danger can be presented as greater than that of the barn itself. Nevertheless, such greater problems may require another kind of argumentation.

Here, therefore, we have presented a utilitarian ecology,4 but it is of greater educational import. It may even be said to have added educational value: through maintaining the ecological dimension in reality, one may strengthen values of

4 Regarding related questions, see Shwartz E Response (2002), mastery and stewardship, wonder and connectedness: a typology to nature in the Jewish texts and tradition. Judaism Ecol 93-108, Cambridge, MA.

partnership; upon the ecological platform, communal unity is strengthened. However, this simplistic relationship between education and ecology is insufficient and it lacks another moral dimension, one which is presented in the story of the Garden of Eden, and which may serve as a lever for making the world an entirely better place.

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