Parashat Toldot

Digging Wells, Conserving Water

Now is the time for the Jewish people to respond to regional and global concerns about water scarcity.

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On the other hand, this could be a very fine hour for the Jewish nation to solve this regional and global concern. Israel's resourcefulness has already proven to contribute many solutions to water scarcity. Drip irrigation is an Israeli invention that caused a revolution in agriculture, and Israel boasts the largest desalinization plant in the world.

If Israel would continue to invest its intellectual prowess towards this complex issue, it could not only solve its regional issues but also bring well-being to the entire globe.

First, it could minimize the amount of deaths that occur each year from thirst and water contamination. It could also rehabilitate regions in the world that have exhausted their natural resources as a result of ignorant water management. Finally, it could increase the global output of food by unleashing the latent power that nature possesses.

Furthermore, Israel could lead the way in fostering a new culture: One that promotes a sustainable relationship to water consumption and our environment. Israel could model a culture that incorporates future realities in the decisions of today; a culture that consumes a more modest and humble share of the planet's limited resources; a culture wherein humans understand that they are the crowns of creation and have a responsibility to actively protect and preserve the planet; a culture that does not destroy our planet's resources out of political interests, and instead cultivates resource in order to future world peace.

From "Scorched Place" to "Pond"

This idyllic culture and the peace that it merits is described in our prophecies concerning the end of days:

"Then the lame man will skip like a gazelle and the tongue of the mute will sing glad song. For water will have broken out in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The scorched place will become a pond and the parched place--springs of water. The abode where the jackals rested will become grassland with reeds and bulrushes." (Isaiah 35:6-7)

Although this passage is allegorical, we are not allowed to ignore the literal meaning of the text. The "blossoming desert," turning Israel into a powerhouse of developing new water sources for herself and for the whole world, is not only a metaphor for the redemption of humankind--it is the redemption itself.

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Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva, is a graduate of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a retired major in the IDF. Rabbi Cherlow was amongst the founders of the Tzohar Foundation, a central Modern Orthodox foundation which works to build bridges between the religious and secular worlds.