TEACHINGS OF THE ECOKOSHER REBBE
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ECOKOSHER PRINCIPLES

"Vaykhal Mosheh l'daber et-kol-hadvareem haeyleh el-kol-Yisrael. Vayomer aleyhem seemu levavkhem l'khol-hadevareem asher anokhee meyeed bakhem hayom asher tetzavum et-benaykhem lishmor et-kol-dibray haTorah hazot. (When Moses finished speaking all these words (of Torah) to all Israel, he said to them, "Place all these words (of Torah) in your hearts that I bear witness with you today, so that you will be able to instruct your children to keep all the words of this Torah carefully)." DEUTERONOMY 32: 45-46

ECOKOSHER TEACHINGS of the ECOREBBE

The Ecokosher Principles, while coming from a Jewish perspective, are principles that can be adapted by any person of any faith, religious tradition or spiritual path.

Ecokosher Principles are basically a way of living in an indigenous Jewish-spiritual motivated modality of harmony and balance with Nature and the Spiritual worlds.

Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill (the EcoRebbe), is an ordained Rabbi (Segan) with s’mikha from Rabbi Gershon Winkler, November 5, 1998. He practices and teaches the teachings based on the traditional, historic, Sephardic customs of Judaism that he was taught by his teachers.

The Torah teaches, in the Talmud, that it should be reinterpreted in each generation so that we might live in it and not die in it.

Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill believes in the visionary teachings and idealism as expressed in the philosophy of the Aquarian Age Jewish Renewal Rebbe and spiritual guide, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, (see his teachings in his book, PARADIGM SHIFT, Jason Aronson, 1993).

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was born in Poland in 1924. He was ordained as a Lubavitch rabbi in Brooklyn, New York by Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn. He was instrumental in creating the Jewish Renewal movement of which he is the Spiritual Guide and Rebbe.

Reb Gershon Steinberg-Caudill also follows the kabbalistic teachings and shamanic-indigenous traditions and rituals of his Walking Stick Rebbe, Rabbi Gershon Winkler (see his teachings in his book "THE WAY OF THE BOUNDARY CROSSER," Jason Aronson, 1998.)

Rabbi Gershon Winkler was born in Denmark in 1949. He was ordained (given s’mikha) as an Ultra-Orthodox rabbi by Rabbi Eleizer Bentsion in Jerusalem and later ordained as a Renewal rabbi by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi coined the term ECOKOSHER in the 1970s. He coined it from the two principles of (1) ECOLOGY and (2) KOSHER (kashrut).

Reb Zalman has suggested that we could add this new code of eco-kosher practices to our existing practices of KASHRUT, or various forms of dietary laws and habits, as a way of honoring our ecological environment and our spiritual connection to traditional Jewish kashrut or to other methods of the consumption of food products.

Reb Zalman states that food products that are grown using earth-destroying pesticides, while kosher, may not be eco-kosher. Newsprint made by chopping down an ancient and irreplaceable forest, while kosher, may not be eco-kosher. Products that are made out of irreplaceable natural resources, while kosher, may not be eco-kosher. Institutions that pollute the environment or use excessive amounts of fuel, or mistreat their work force through unfair labor practices or wages that are not high enough to live on, may not be eco-kosher establishments. It may not be an eco-kosher practice to have investments in companies that pollute the environment or are otherwise ecologically insensitive.

The recent Mad-Cow disease outbreak comes from violation of these common sense principles of ecologically balanced kosher concepts. Herbivores should not be fed meat protein by-products; it is just not natural!

The Renewal Jewish community, as an ecologically sensitive community, should be at the center of ecological campaigns, and should make eco-kosher principles a halakhic requirement.

Most Native American peoples lived in harmony with the environment. They knew the Way of the balance between humans, animals, plant, earth, and air. They knew when to plant, to nourish, and when to harvest. They knew not to waste of what they partook. They hunted only for what they needed to use for food and clothing, not wasting even the smallest bones, which were used for fishhooks. The Native Americans can be, by their example and by the example of their teachings, our teachers in how to treat our environment.

The Native Americans learned how to live in total connection with their entire environment. They recognized that everything in the universe was endowed with Spirit that needed to be acknowledged before it was used, even plants and rocks.

The Shoshoni (Newe) Native First American Indian word SHUNDAHAI means to be at Peace and in Harmony with all creation. It is a Native American Indian word that lends understanding to the English word "Ecology." The Navaho (Dine) have the words BIKEH HOZHO meaning Spiritual Beauty, which symbolizes the maintaining and restoring of the process of constant mental and physical effort of living daily life in harmony and balance with the life of the Cosmos at large.

These Native American Indian words are similar in meaning to the Hebrew meaning of the word SHALOM! (Wholeness, completeness, harmony) and to the meaning of the Arabic word SALAAM (Peace!).

SHALOM has as its root Sheen, Lamed, and Mem. This root implies COMPLETENESS, WHOLENESS, HARMONY, and BALANCE. Our own Indigenous Jewish ancestors also knew of these environmentally harmonious concepts.

****ECOKOSHER HOME CLEANING AND HOME BLESSING****

Reb Zalman's words in “Paradigm Shift” concerning the concept of Eco-Kosher ask us to consider the idea of cleaning our homes in a Eco-Kosher responsible manner.

In other words, use cleaning products that are kosher (with a hekhsher) and also safe for the environment. These products must also be products that do what they advertise and are not just "elbow grease" and orange juice with vinegar. One should not pay excessive prices for orange juice with vinegar.

Cleaning equipment must be the best that money can buy, or that we can afford. It is important that they are energy efficient and do not waste money or time. Buy vacuum cleaners that filter dust from the air that the vacuum cleaner puts back into the room. Many vacuum cleaners have filtration systems that are fine enough to filter allergens out of the air as well.

It is important, after every major job of home cleaning, to finish the job by giving the home a blessing that the Infinite Eternal will bestow upon this home protection, blessing, and shalom bayit (harmony in the home).

***ECOKOSHER FENG SHUI***

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art of being in connection with feng (wind) and shui (water), meaning the spiritual and the physical presence, and visual symmetry. It is an ecologically based art form of spatial arrangement that incorporates man made objects within natural surroundings. It is a means of defining ones place within the physical universe while improving upon it. It teaches that one can improve ones lot and have a happy family, a good marriage, a healthy and long life, a successful career, wealth, good fortune, etc., etc., if one creates the proper flow of chi (human spiritual karmic essence) in relation to the thing that one is seeking the proper feng shui of, and in the relationship of the thing within its natural surroundings.

The Navaho (Dine) have a similar concept known as Beauty Way. In the Navaho system, while the Beauty Way story is told, it is illustrated by use of songs, chants, sand paintings, prayer stick bundles, ceremony and process, on the individual level. But, the position of East in relationship to a dwelling, the way one enters and walks within a home and leaves it, the natural omens, the way one greets another, the place where one is in relationship to sacred places within nature, etc., all have bearing on the flow of purified healing energies (diyin dine') of Wind and Wind.

Within the Jewish KABBALAH tradition, the concept of ECOKOSHER can be seen to incorporate the basic ideas expressed within the traditions of both the Navaho Beauty Way and the Chinese Feng Shui.

This concept of ECOKOSHER teaches that through being in sync with the Jewish spiritual halakha of kashrut (the feng), for Jews, and through living in sync with our Mother Earth (the shui) from whom we were created, and to whom we will return after we die, as well, we achieve maximum spiritual-physical connectedness. For those of other ethno-spiritual paths, the esoteric traditions and teachings of the Masters of the tradition and the specific food laws and traditions of living according to the traditional life style of the ancestral Path works.

On a personal dwelling level, Ecokosher Feng Shui posits that a home be beautified and filled with the Spirit of being in connection with the Creator. Every door (except bathrooms) could have a mezuzah affixed on the doorpost.

In other non-Jewish faith-based paths, sacred objects, such as crucifixes or pictures of saints or other holy objects can be placed near entrance ways to create the sense of the holy nature of the dwelling place.

In the home, there should be many books that promote egalitarian, interfaith, non-sexist, non-racist, non-separationist concepts that allow a person to feel comfortable with their being Jewish (or of another religion or ethno-religious identity).

Reading materials need to be available that promote the new Rainbow Religious perspective, wherein all religions are seen as just as viable for the person who chooses to be of that particular path as for the person for whom Judaism is viable. There should be books adjusted to the reading skills of every person in the home.

The Rainbow Religious perspective of the EcoRebbe teaches that ALL religions are like the colors of the sacred rainbow. They are all needed together to make up the Rainbow Religion of Universal Mind; God. No one religion is better, in God's Eyes, than another to experience the joys of human existence with. It is what one does with ones religious perspective to bring about brotherhood, equality, joy, and love of the universe and all sentient things within Her that counts.

One might wish to set aside a meditation area or special praying place with a MIZRACH (a picture or sand painting) or a SHIVITI (a plaque or paper inscribed with Psalm 16: 8, often in the form of a picture, along with various ways of pronouncing the YHVH Name of the Infinite One) on the Eastern Wall to show the direction and kavanah for prayer. Both the Navaho and the Tibetan Buddhist join Jews in facing to the East, in the direction of the rising sun (and Jerusalem), when praying.

The ECOKOSHER Blessing Path incorporates as a regular part of family and individual prayers, blessings from the time we open our eyes, do our bathroom duties, get dressed, say blessings prior to and after eating, and/or drinking, see wondrous sights of nature (like Rainbows or an eagle), study Torah or other Sacred Books, go to sleep, etc. We are taught that there are one hundred blessings that we could acknowledge every day, if we but pay attention. We must learn to be able to see the MAGIC that exists in the ordinary day to day things that happen before our very eyes.

We are given the ability of releasing the Divine Spark of YHVH (Infinite Creative Power) within an object by blessing it. If I bless a stone, I release the YHVH Divine Spark within the stone that creates a positive aspect for the stone and includes me within that aura. Only then may I use that stone to decorate my dwelling or to heat my sweat lodge.

If we place A TSADAKAH (CHARITY) BOX, with a designated charitable purpose, in a conspicuous place and money is placed in it every day prior to going to bed, we create a positive blessing effect within our personal aura that draws blessings to us. On Holy Days (like Erev Shabbat and Festivals, or Sunday or other Holy Days) money is to be put in the tsedakah box prior to lighting the Shabbat or Festival candles, or prior to going to church or mosque. When the box is filled, it is taken to a food bank, homeless shelter, or other charitable organization and emptied. Daily use of the tsedakah box insures that the blessing goral (karma) created by our being a part of the Ecokosher Blessing Way Path remains revitalized and constantly recharged.

IT IS AN UNKNOWN SECRET OF THE JEWS that giving tsedakah brings wealth. When one blesses another, one is made part of the Blessing Way Path that also returns blessings back to the one who blesses.

Similarly, if one curses another, one is made part of the Cursing Way Path that returns a portion of the curse back on to the one who does the cursing of another.

To attach Ecokosher feng shui to a home, the walls of the home could have on them pictures that are of spiritual content and design. Family photos of ancestors, might especially be placed on western walls, as West is symbolic of the Place of Departed Souls.

Mirrors might be placed where a person could see their own image in it as the first thing they see upon entering the home or upon arising in the morning; thus reminding the person that they are created in the Image of God and are a Child of the Infinite One. Mirrors can also be used at the ends of halls to suggest the concept of infinity or eternal life.

Plants might be placed (be careful of plants that drop sap or draw insects) where they hide corners and remind one of their relationship to nature. Plants also revitalize the oxygen within a home. Fish tanks and bird cages (birds are quite messy) bring solace and serenity into a home where problems of illness and mental instability abide. These must be placed with the direction of a qualified Jewish shamanic-Rebbe of feng shui. Do not place live birds in a close area because the dust off of birds is a source of allergy to many people. It is better to have bird feeders and birdbaths outside for wild birds than it is to cage birds. It is also good to have gold fish ponds and small wild animal feeders.

The way we treat our garbage and refuse tells much about where we are in relation to the environment and to the Universal Mind.

We should properly dispose of our waste material and not simply litter our surroundings with it. We must teach our children to live as simply as possible, by example, wasting not. We should recycle EVERYTHING that is recyclable and compost as much as possible of organic food leftovers. We should live simply and in harmony with our environment and not overtax the land with our animals, buildings, or toxic waste.

There is place in the universe for humans to live and dwell at peace and in harmony with the rest of the environment. However, this requires taking into consideration the flow of rivers, the place of trees, the nature of a hill, the living places of wildlife and herbal life and honoring the right of other life forms to coexist with us.

What Ecokosher Feng Shui really is, then, is living with a deliberate sense of responsibility towards the entire biosphere within which one lives. If we are cognizant of our relationship with all of nature and of the affect that we have on the Four Elements of Air, Water, Earth, and Spirit, in our everyday living, we will be practicing Ecokosher Feng Shui.

Ancient Jewish teachings:

The Sanctity and Spirituality of the Earth

By Rabbi Gershon Winkler

"You find that when the Holy Blessed One desired to create the primeval human, she consulted the ministering angels and said to them: 'Should we make the human?' Said they: 'What is the human that you even bother thinking about them?' (Psalms 8:5).  Replied the Creator: 'The human that I wish to create, its wisdom is superior to yours.'  What did Creator then do?  She gathered all of the animals and wildlife and birds and stood them before the angels, and said: 'Okay, assign them names.'  The angels just stood there and didn't know what to call them. She then brought all of them to the primeval human and said to it: 'What are the names of these?'  Said the human: 'Master of all the universes! It is fitting to call this one Ox, and to this one it is fitting to call Lion, and to this one Horse, and to that one Camel, and to the other one Eagle' and so with all the other animals. Said Creator: 'And what about you? What shall be your name?' Said the human: 'Earth Being (Ahdam), because I was created from the Earth (Ahdamah).'" [Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 7:32]

The tradition in Judaism that the human was formed out of the earth is more than a simplistic metaphor or colorful homily. The theme runs continuously and consistently throughout the scriptural, legalistic, midrashic, and kabbalistic avenues of Jewish spiritual teachings. 

For example, in the Book of Genesis (2:7), the narrator of the creation story informs us that Creator formed the human out of the earth.  In the Midrash, the second-century Rabbi Shim'on ben El'azar taught that not only was the human created out of a clump of soil but out of earth gathered from all four directions (Midrash B'reishis Rabbah 8:1).

In the Jewish mystical tradition, the Book of the Zohar describes Creator as forming the human out of the earth of the site of the sacred space of the Holy of Holies atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, and that each of the four winds of the four directions were then summoned to gift the primeval human with each its particular power and attribute (Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 130b and Vol. 2, folio 23b). 

These and other sources imply that the human is a living microcosm of the entire planet earth, and whose very soul is imbued with the powers of the four winds. As the second-century Rabbi Shim'on ben Lakish put it: "All that the Holy Blessed One created in the human had been created in the earth to resemble the human." (Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 1:9).

The twelfth-century Rabbi Moshe ibn Maimon in the beginning of his codification of Jewish law and practice taught that the earth, the planets, the stars, suns, and moons, all of what we call inanimate or mineral, are as imbued with divine Soul as is any other living being (Mishnah Torah, Hil'chot Y'sodei Hatorah 3:9). His teaching is more a reminder to the reader than an introduction of anything new to Jewish tradition: "Praise the Creator, O sun and moon, all you stars of light; mountains and hills, fruit trees and all cedars; beasts, cattle, creeping-crawlies and winged beings; all of them praise Infinite One" (Book of Psalms 148:3-4 and 7-11).

"The Israelite does not distinguish between a living and a lifeless nature.  A stone is not merely a lump of material substance. It is, like all living things, an organism with peculiar forces of a certain mysterious capacity, only known to him that is familiar with it. The earth is a living thing." (Johannes Pederson in Israel: Its Life and Culture [Oxford University Press, 1959], p. 55).
 
Thus, the earth is not merely a sacred concept that exists outside of and separate from the human, which sacredness the human then connects to periodically through rituals and ceremonies. Rather, the earth is an integral component of the human composition.

More, the earth and the human are synonymous with one another.  They are one and the same. They are named after one another. What we do to the earth, we do to the human, and what we do to the human we do the earth (Genesis 6:11-13).  When Cain kills his brother Abel, the cry of the consequence of his action originates from the earth: "The cry of the blood of your brother calls out to me from the earth."(Genesis 4:10).
 
The human's relationship to the earth, then, involves a serious covenantal relationship (Job 5:23), which, when betrayed, promises consequences of deprivation (Deuteronomy 11:17) and exile (Leviticus 18:25), and which, when honored, promises longevity and a peaceful life (Job 5:23-26; Deuteronomy 11:21).

"The Israelites do not acknowledge the distinction between the psychic and the corporeal. Earth and stones are alive, imbued with a soul, therefore able to receive mental subject-matter and bear the impress of it.  The relation between the earth and its owner is a covenant-relation, a psychic community, and the owner does not solely prevail in the relation. The earth has its nature, which makes itself felt and demands respect." (Johannes Pederson in Israel: Its Life and Culture [Oxford University Press,1959], p. 479).
 
Ancient Jewish rites for invoking mystical experience and for vision questing also involved the earth, ranging from lying down on the earth with stones arranged around the head (Genesis 28:11), to assuming a fetal-like position while facing the earth (1 Kings 18:42).  Weeping, too, is among the rites of achieving mystical experience, employed quite often by the second century Rabbi Shim'on bar Yochai (Sefer HaZohar, Vol. 3, folio 166b) while also assuming the fetal-like position of "head between the knees." It is obvious from these accounts and others that the revelatory experience emanates from the earth: "Converse with the earth, and she will reveal to you" (Job 12:8). Upon completion of his vision, Rabbi Shim'on would kiss the earth he had been facing during the entire quest (Sefer HaZohar, Vol. 3, folio 166b and 168a).

As the tenth-century Rabbi Hai Ga'on summed it up: "[The seeker of mystical experience] must fast a certain number of days, put his head between his knees, and whisper many traditional chants and prayers to the earth. Then he is shown the inner mysteries of the earth and is invited to journey through her seven chambers" (Quoted in Neil Asher Silberman's "Heavenly Powers: Unraveling the Secrets of the Kabbalah" [Grosset Putnam, 1998], p. 36).

The mystical experience involved could be some profound wisdom, or it could be the revelation of a technique for performing a specific act of sorcery (Midrash Heichalot Rabati 1:3). 
 
These seven mystical chambers of the earth to which Rabbi Hai Gaon alluded play no less a role in spiritual questing as do the more popularly known Seven Heavenly Chambers.  In fact, the ancient teachers gave them both equal importance, and taught that both meet and conjoin in common mystery at the Seventh Chamber (Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 38a).  Each chamber corresponds to one of seven names of the earth (which vary in different texts) and wields a particular attribute:

Eretz, meaning Compressed, whose attribute is Wisdom;
Adahmah, meaning Clay, whose attribute is Peace;
Ar'ka, meaning Inward, whose attribute is Grace;
Yabashah, meaning Dry Earth in Relationship to Water, whose attribute is Potential;
Tehvel, meaning Habitation, whose attribute is Bounty;
Char'vah, meaning Destruction/Eruption, whose attribute is Life;
Gey'a, meaning Gulley, whose attribute is Power.
 
The sanctity of the earth is described in the Jewish tradition beyond its relationship to the human, but also its relationship to the divine, whose presence, we are reminded, is no less in the earth as in the heavens: "And you will then know that I am Infinite One who dwells deep within the earth" (Exodus 8:18).
 
 The ancient rabbis further dramatized the sacredness of the earth by pointing out the fact that Creator invested an infinitesimal quantity and quality of complexity and deliberation into the creation of the earth rather than a more simplistic version, in order to demonstrate the magnitude of her importance: "With ten utterances was the world created. But could God not have created her with a single utterance?  Rather, it is to teach you how precious is our earth, and how much reward for those who cherish her and how great the consequences for those who abuse her" (Babylonia Talmud, Avot 5:1).

Jewish tradition also reminds us that God's love and concern for the earth herself exists independent of, rather than because of, the human's reliance upon her: "Said Rabbi B'rakh'yah, Rabbi Chelbo and Rabbi Pappa in the name of Rabbi El'azar: "Rain falls not solely for people's benefits. At times, [rain falls] solely for the benefit of a single blade of grass" (Jerusalem Talmud, Ta'anit 3:2), not only for the benefit of humans (Job 38:26). "You have remembered the earth, and watered her, enriching her with the river of God that is full of water, watering her ridges abundantly, you make her soft with showers; you bless the growth thereof. The pastures, the meadows, the hills and the valleys, they shout with joy, yea, they sing!" (Psalms 65:10-14); "Who prepares rain for the earth; who makes the mountains spring with grass" (Book of Psalms 147:8).
 
The earth's endearment to God is communicated throughout the Torah through innumerable laws concerning her care. One major example is that the earth is to have her rest every seventh day and every seventh year. "In the seventh year, you may not harvest her yield or sow seeds into her, but must leave her to be, and allow the land to feed the poor, the strangers not of your people, the wildlife and domestic animals; you may not work her that entire year" (Leviticus 25:4 and Deuteronomy 15:1-2). 

The human, then, is assigned stewardship, not ownership, over the land: "And Infinite One, Source of the Powers, took the Earth Beings (Human) and placed them in the Garden of Pleasure, to serve her and to watch over her" (Genesis 2:15).

The human, the Torah taught, could consider themselves in "ownership" of the earth only when they considered as well their joint responsibility for all of her, the entire planet, not solely for their own "deeded" acreage: "Our teachers taught: One should not throw rubbish from one's own property onto public land.  It happened that a man did exactly that, when a sage passed by and scolded him, saying: 'Why are you removing litter from land that is not yours and throwing it onto land that is yours?'  The man dismissed the sage as a fool and continued littering. After a time, he was walking on the public land and stumbled over his litter and injured himself.  Said he: 'Wise were the words of the sage who asked me why I was throwing litter from land not mine onto land that is mine'" (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kama 50b).

For no one owns land of their own.  Rather, land is "ours" only when we are collectively aware of our responsibility for the earth as a whole, not solely fragments of it to which we have staked our possessive claim. Technically, it is never even ours to sell, the Torah teaches, for the earth's sole owner is God (Leviticus 25:23).
 
Therefore what we do to land we deem "personal property" affects the rest of the planet which knows no geographical boundaries. What we do to our "private" land, in other words, is not exempt from any ecological consequences we might thereby wreak upon the rest of the planet: "Taught Rabbi Shim'on bar Yochai (2nd century): It is analogous to a ship full of people sailing on the sea when one of them begins to drill a hole on the floor of his section of the boat. Said his fellows: 'What are you doing!?'  Replied he: 'What business is it of yours what I am doing?  This is my section!'  Said they: 'Of course it is our business when what you are doing is going to sink the boat and drown us all!'" (Midrash Vayik'ra Rabbah 4:6); "It happened that a man tore up his orchard when a fierce wind came and injured him" (Midrash B'reishis Rabbah 13:2); "When a healthy tree is cut down, its groan is heard from one end of the universe to the other" (Midrash Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer, Ch. 34); "One who cuts down healthy trees, shall see no blessing in their lifetime" (Babylonian Talmud, P'sachim 50b); "The life force of the human emanates solely from the tree" (Midrash Sif'ri, D'varim 20:19).
 
It is clear from these and myriad other like teachings in the Jewish tradition that the earth is exceedingly sacred. She is more the Word of God (Psalms 33:9) than the mortally transmitted scriptures: "Said Rabbi Tanchum bar Chiyyah, 'Greater than the Revelation to our people at Sinai is the falling of the rains.  For the Revelation at Sinai was to a single people in a single period of history on a single mountain, whereas the falling of rain is [a Revelation] to all peoples, in all times, in all places, to all animals and wildlife and birds'" (Midrash Tehilim 117:1).
 
She herself is the Revelation, and we need not seek it elsewhere: "They asked Rabbi Rachumai, 'The Garden of Eden, where is she?' Said he: 'Here on the earth'" (Sefer HaBahir, Mishnah 10).

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