Solar Energy and Biblical Law


According to the biblical law of pe’ah, when a farmer harvests his land he must leave the corners of his field for the poor (Leviticus 19).

And what about solar fields? A solar field transforms the sun’s rays into electricity–producing a renewable form of energy. In Israel, the Arava Power Company recently launched its first solar field. Named “Ketura Sun,” the field in the Negev desert consists of photovoltaic solar panels, which release no carbon into the atmosphere, and produce energy that goes directly to Israel’s electric grid.

Technically, Jewish law does not require Arava Power to follow the law of pe’ah, because solar panels do not grow in the same way that wheat, barley, or other traditional crops do. However, the company decided it would be meaningful to determine its own observance of pe’ah. Based on a calculation of what constitutes the corners of the field, Arava Power donates a percentage of its proceeds to four different organizations, each working to promote social justice or provide services to the disadvantaged.

If you’re not a farmer you probably won’t ever get a chance to observe pe’ah…but it’s nice to know that the energy that powers your hairdryer or refrigerator could potentially (if you’re in Israel’s Negev desert) be pe’ah-inspired.

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