Hinduism & JainismJudaism
Deep Ecology
Animal Rights & LiberationNeoPaganism




The Genesis creation story relates that God looked upon the entire creation and saw that it was good. When finally humans are "created in God's image," surely this not meant to suggest that humans physically look like God. Rather, humans have God-like powers to "have dominion" over creation. Indeed, human free will is only relevant if our actions represent choices between good and evil. Many Jews are convinced that we are not to use our God-given gifts to harm and exploit nature for our own benefit, but rather to serve God as responsible stewards of God's creation.
Regarding treatment of nonhumans, there is strong support for compassion and respect. Jewish tradition requires Tsa'ar Ba'ale Hayim -- the prevention of cruelty to animals. Among the many biblical passages that articulate an ethic of respect and compassion for animals are the following:

A righteous man cares for his beast. Proverbs 12:10

When you see the ass of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, however unwilling you may be to help it, you must give him a hand with it. Exodus 23:5

He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man. Isaiah 66:3

Sources: Roberta Kalechofsky (ed), Judaism & Animal Rights; Richard H. Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism (both books available from Micah Pubs., 255 Humphrey Street, Marblehead, MA 01945)

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
Essays by Dr. Richard Schwartz