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How must we as humans interact with our environment? We make blessings on bodies of water, trees, rainbows and thunder. All of these blessings teach us to be connected to His creation and guard it. If we are commanded to act with respect to animals and the environment, how much more weight does the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” receive? Rambam considers following a Torah law without understanding it as mindless an act as digging a pit. We may never know G-d’s ultimate reason for a commandment, yet it is our duty to strive to understand the Torah to the best of our abilities. We must look at the collection of laws in the Torah and see a larger picture of the world G-d instructs us to create. The way we treat animals, the environment and one another sometimes violates the spirit of Torah law. The letter of the law and the spirit of the Torah must be fused if we are to build a world in which G-d can reside.


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Rabbi Donn Gross, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press’s Olam Yehudi magazine, is the rabbi and founder of Bet Dovid, Caldwell, New Jersey’s Orthodox shul. On Facebook he is known as The Health Rabbi. He received his semicha from Yeshivat Pirchei Shoshanim and has a degree in Jewish education from Yeshiva University where he also studied at the Belz School of Jewish Music. He can be reached at