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Earth & Environment

The House on the Mountain
a step-by-step course on Jewish spiritual teachings
about nature, the environment, the earth, the heavens and humanity's role of responsibility for the
welfare of the entire Universe.

To start the course now, click HERE!!!

General overview

The House on the Mountain consists of an Introduction, "In the beginning..." followed by three main parts: "The Mountain", "The Field" and "The House". Each of these three main parts is centered on a major facet of man's relationship with nature and each is associated with one of the three biblical founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each part of the course consists of a number of individual segments presenting authentic sources from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, Kabbalah and Chassidut in English translation together with discussion and commentary.

Dreaming the Dream

In the Beginning
Introduction

Part I: The Mountain: Abraham
Man confronts nature and seeks to find his place

Part II: The Field: Isaac
Man exploits nature for his needs

Part III: The House: Jacob
Man makes peace with nature

Why the "Mountain", the "Field" and the "House"?

A mountain is a purely natural phenomenon. The "mountain" therefore represents "raw nature", the God-given natural environment in which we find ourselves. At the opposite extreme is the "house", a structure made entirely by man, albeit with materials all of which ultimately derive from nature. Intermediate between the God-given natural "mountain" and the man-made "house" stands the "field" -- land or some other natural resource that man has to work and manipulate in order to produce his food and other needs.

In the contemporary world, the "house" -- symbolizing the man-made urban civilization in which we live -- is seriously out of harmony with the wider natural environment. Present-day patterns of production and consumption are causing appalling damage to the environment.

But the Torah teaches that this can be rectified and that mankind will attain a new and lasting harmony with nature just as soon as we realize that the key lies in constructing the Sacred House, namely the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

The Talmud tells us that the three founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were all engaged in laying the foundations for this Temple. Each made his own unique contribution -- and conceived it in a different way: Abraham as a "Mountain"; Isaac as a "Field" and Jacob as a "House". And it is as a "House" that it is destined to be built in Jerusalem in the near future.

Said Rabbi Elazar: What does Isaiah mean when he says, "And many peoples will go and say, 'Come let us go up to the Mountain of God to the House of the God of Jacob!'" ? Why the God of Jacob and not the God of Abraham and Isaac? The answer is: Not like Abraham, who saw it as a Mountain ("as it is said this day, On the Mountain HaVaYaH is seen" -- Genesis 22:14). And not like Isaac, for whom it was a Field ("And Isaac went out to meditate in the Field" -- Genesis 24:63). But like Jacob, who called it a House: "And he called the name of that place Beth El, the House of God" (Genesis 28:19).

(Pesachim 88a. See "In the beginning..." for further discussion)


How to follow the course

If you wish to make a serious study of the materials offered in this course, it is best to study each segment of the course in sequence. To do so, start with "Dreaming the Dream". Each of the individual segments of the course is on a page of its own. At the end of each page, click on the TREE image to go to the next page. If you wish to review a particular course segment without having to follow a whole chain of links from page to page, consult the Full Contents in order to find a direct link.

If you prefer to browse individual course segments out of sequence, you are welcome to do so. Use the Full Contents to find what interests you.

Do you know others who would enjoy the materials presented here but do not have access to the Internet? Please feel free to print out and give them materials from The House on the Mountain. This course is provided without charge as a public service.


Full Contents

Dreaming the dream: where Heaven and Earth Kiss

Look up at the Sky

The First Lesson

In the Beginning: Introduction

Part I: The Mountain: Abraham:
Man confronts nature and seeks to find his place

Part II: The Field: Isaac:
Man exploits nature for his needs

Part III: The House: Jacob:
Man makes peace with nature


Credits

The course was been devised and produced by Avraham ben Yaakov.

With grateful thanks to David Heller for your inspiration and munificent support for this project, and to Rita Ennis and Neil & Susan Rosen for making it possible to put it on the Internet.

Tree

CLICK ON THE TREE TO START THE COURSE