Parashat Vayeshev

Shepherd Consciousness

The thoughts of a shepherd may be sublime, but they cannot take him away from the task at hand.

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This is the source of many of the environmental problems we face today. A society that is driven by consumption and industrial development can overlook deforesting the rainforests or irrevocably and negatively impacting the climate. It is precisely the accessing of our inner selves that enables us to encounter the larger picture of our own reality.

Much of today's environmental crisis stems from laziness, detachment, and simply cutting corners, not malicious destruction. If all people, from the average consumer to the corporate CEO, dedicated time each day to rekindle their own inner-potential as vehicles for God in the world, their use of the natural world would be informed by their relationship with the Creator of the natural world.

It does not really matter if one is controlling a multi-national corporation or running a household, the reality is that mindfulness of the bigger picture is an essential tool for any individual who cares about the world in which we live.

We do not each need to become shepherds to learn the lesson of "shepherd consciousness." A simple commitment to withdraw from the world for a brief period and engage the more spiritual realms will provide us with a broader perspective on our own lives and the decisions we make.

We need to focus on being human beings, not human doings. If we are to stand a chance of returning to ecological balance, we need to regain the inner spiritual balance and clarity of vision of our ancestors.

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Fivel Yedidya Glasser has been involved in Jewish environmental teaching and guiding for 6 years with diverse groups including Yeshivat Torat Chaim, Teva Adventure, Camp Yavneh, Brandeis Bardin Institute, and Machon Nesiya. He is currently on a hiatus from teaching and has returned to full-time Torah study at the Bat Ayin Yeshiva.