Bal Tashchis – The Torah Way
Moshe continued, with more war instructions. Surprisingly it’s all about trees! “When you go to war,” he said, “do not chop down any of the enemy’s fruit trees. That would be a waste of good, nutritious food. And anyway, what could trees have possibly done wrong that they deserve to be destroyed?!”
This do-not-chop-down-fruit-trees-Torah-law is not only a Mitzvah for wartime, it’s also important every single day of the year. It’s called Bal Tashchis, meaning ‘do not destroy.’ Whether in battle or not, HaShem doesn’t want us to waste things.
After all, HaShem gave us a perfect, beautiful world, and it’s our job to keep it that way. Think about it… if you are invited as a guest into someone else’ s home, do you have the right to destroy it? Absolutely not! Indeed, we humans, here on Planet Earth, are guests of HaShem, the Creator of the world, and we must do everything we can to avoid useless waste and destruction… otherwise it’s Bal Tashchis!
Here are some examples:
Dump Food? – No Way!
If you eat only half an apple, don’t just toss the rest in the garbage! Save the uneaten part for later (nothing wrong with leftovers). Remember, nowadays, with modern refrigerators and freezers, storing food is easy.
Save Water? – Yes!
While brushing your teeth, turn off the faucet to save water. When you let precious water run straight down the drain, it’s just that – “down the drain” – a total waste!
Recycle Recyclables? – Absolutely!
Empty soda cans and plastic water bottles and are perfect examples of recyclable items. When you recycle, instead of ending up in the garbage… these cans and bottles can be used by others. And if they recycle, the cycle continues… others are able to use it again. And if they recycle, others are able to use it again. And if they recycle…. I think you get the point (or shall we say the cycle?)
Respect HaShem’s World! – Unquestionably!
For example, don’t break off a tree’s branches, or peel its bark, or do anything else that needlessly damages it. Trees are one of the many gifts of HaShem. Without trees, we’d be in BIG TROUBLE!
Can you think of more Bal Tashchis examples?