Should we move “back to nature?”
Should we stay where we are, or should we develop even more?
Should we correct nature, change nature, destroy nature?
Should we do all those artificial things that are humanly possible?
This question, which was never a theoretical one, has become even more critical in our time, when artifacts–those things that we build which are not “natural”—are becoming increasingly powerful.
We have to decide how “natural” we should be.
It begins with as simple as question as whether a woman should wear makeup, but it goes much further.
Should someone have plastic surgery?
If I want to kick somebody, I usually do not do it; a dog or a donkey cannot be trusted to behave so well.
So should we return to “natural” manners, or is that not proper behavior?
Is “natural food”—a big fad today—actually superior to other food?
Is it unjust to pay double for organically grown produce?
Things are not necessarily better just because they are natural.
A loaf of bread is better to eat than raw grain.
We can eat and digest sugar, thought it may not be healthy for us; we can eat paper, but we cannot digest it.
We may say that artificial sweetening is not good because it is not natural, but we can actually create artificial sweeteners out of a variety of materials.
We can create cloth from oil.
We can do the most bizarre things.
Should we go “back to nature"?
How far should we go?
And if we do, why should we be vegetarians, like cows, and not carnivores, like tigers?
Tigers, too, are a part of nature.
Since we have choice, we have confusion.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From the essay, "Nature," in Simple Words by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz