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Religion and Permaculture-Jewish Law  RSS feed

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Location: Ohio, USA
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I've hummed and hawd about writing this for a while, and I'm not sure if it's even in the correct forum, but I have read up here, albeit occasionally, people talking about Jewish law as contradictory to permaculture or ecology, perhaps someone is just confused. Anyway, I have studied the Jewish laws of agriculture and studied ecological farming on and off for like 7 years. Over the winter I did an intense review of the Mishnah's discussion on seeds, and taught a class on Halacha (Jewish Law) and gardening/farming.

I want to briefly outline my points and how Halachah and Permaculture are actually pretty well supporters of each other for those who may be confused on the topic. I'm not a rabbi, but here's what I found:

- Shabbat: You can work 6 days, on the 7th day you do not work. Work is defined as acts of creation/ manipulating creation (loosely). So, for 1 day you are forced to observe creation, not manipulate it. Observation is a key point in Permaculture.

-Kelayim: Mixtures of seed/breed, harnessing unlike animals together/grafting unlikes together. This is sometimes used to justify monocot crops, but the actual Mishnah talks about planting species within several handbreadths of each other (i.e about the width of your palm). The plots look like something out of Square Foot Gardening. The idea of this halachic section appears to be to keep your seed supplies from contamination and all seed/animal stock purchased capable of breeding more. So, if this halacha was implemented, then when you would buy a sweet apple from the store and plant the seeds there would be a 0% chance that the new apples wouldn't be sweet.

-maser, maser sheni, maser oni, peah... lots and lots of rules about giving to others from your harvest. In other words, only take your fair share.

-Shmitah: You cannot grow new things on your land and anyone can harvest from anyone else's land. The result is community, you are better off with a system like this with perennials and self-seeding annuals than an intense major agro business. Again, there's an element of fair share.

-Yovel: You can lease but not sell land - everyone has land. All land needs to be returned to it's original owners every 50 years. That means everyone has the potential to obtain a yield.

-the holidays align with the harvests and often contain elements in the ceremonies related to the adjacent harvest/season.

-Don't harm animals. In fact, so much so don't take eggs from underneath a broody hen or a baby goat from it's mommy while it's still suckling.

Anyway, a long time ago in a land far far away I was a bit confused about these things, and am now just simply impressed out how ecologically friendly Judaism really is. I should also note that a lot of these laws are nearly impossible to understand without actually seeing them in action, but the Gemara (another one of those old Jewish documents) says your meant to learn the laws to do these things on earth.

Well, I hope this helps/is educational, you know- all rainbows and bunny rabbits.

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Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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hey amit...

thank you. i ve been thinking about this myself. but from a different point of view.

i read a piece of travel desciption from around 1870 or so. the writer said, the land was "cursed". erosion, deserts, swamps etc. ... not much possibilities of food production. the land had been neglected and not been managed properly for centuries (or so).
compare that to the harvests of earlier times, say of King David.

the land needs to be managed wisely or it ll turn into desert or swamp. as far as i know, they had lots of perennial there. grapes, pomegranates, figs ...
they did water-collection and storage. i think, they did mob grazing (the shepherds went with their flock, grazed a piece of land and then moved on).

it s about land-management/stewardship... and that s where the judaic law and permaculture come together...

remember, where it all started? in a garden with fruit and edible seed... food forrest? there are many pictures/parables of restoring barren land and greening the desert, meant both literally and spiritually

be blessed and have nice holidays
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