Bal Tashchit

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The primary source in the Torah not to waste is derived from the passage that forbids cutting down a fruit tree when putting a city under siege. Yet, Chazal understand that any form of wasting a useable item is included in this prohibition, generally called Baal Tashchit.[1]

Fruit Trees

  1. It is forbidden to cut down fruit bearing tree or cause it to be destroyed.[2]

Exceptions

  • If the wood is worth more than the fruit it produces.[3]
  • If a fruit bearing tree is causing damage it may be cut down.[4]
  • One is allowed to cut down a fruit tree if its space is needed to build or expand a house.[5]

Misc

  1. It is forbidden to burn a useable shirt or break a vessel for no reason.[6]

Sources

  1. Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Lavin n. 57)
  2. Mishneh Torah Kings and Wars 6:8
  3. Mishneh Torah Kings and Wars 6:8
  4. Mishneh Torah Kings and Wars 6:8
  5. Turei Zahav 116:6. However even though it is allowed halachically there is still an aspect of danger. Therefore if the tree has to be removed it is best to transplant it. If transplantation is not possible one should sell the tree to a non-jew and he should cut it down.
  6. Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Lavin n. 57), Rambam (Melachim 6:10)