Well before our people sighted the tropic climes of Fiji, plumbed its waters for bottling and produced a photo-bombing icon, we were debating the nature of selling H20.
As reported earlier, Fiji Water’s shifty business practices ought not be forgotten, but what does scripture have to say about them?
To learn the answer, the Forward went down the hall to speak with Hazon, The Jewish Lab for Sustainability. Their Director of Education, Elan Margulies, pointed us in the direction of a verse from Lamentations 5:4:
“We must pay to drink our own water, Obtain our own kindling at a price.”
Rashi’s commentary explicates the line further:
“We pay to drink our own water. Since we were afraid to draw water from the river because of the enemies, we bought [water] from them with money.”
In this passage and its interpretation, we see the tragedy of commoditizing something as essential as water following the destruction of Jerusalem. Safe, clean water is posited as a human right – not something we should have to pay for. Maybe if Jewish bottled water tycoons paid attention on Tisha B’Av we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
To be fair, Fiji Water’s filtration initiatives and carbon footprint offset policies do seem to advance this philosophy somewhat. A-Listers like those seen at Sunday night’s Golden Globe’s can keep paying for their water if it suits them, though maybe their concern should be wildfires (see Lamentations 1:13).
As for Fiji Water girl, she swears she wasn’t thinking evil thoughts on the red carpet.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.