Reader: Dear Mesora, I have a petroleum engineer and since graduating have read the quote in your site: "To quote the first Mishna in Chap. II , Talmud Chagiga, "If man ponders four things, it is better that he was never created (they are) what is above the earth, what is below, what came before the Earth, and what succeeds it". "
In my opinion this is saying that if I by trade am require to look beneath the earth in order to find Oil and Gas then I am perhaps taking myself from this world and better that I not have been born. I know there are jews in this business so I await your comment in anticipation of adding to my sense of approval by G-d in my future endeavours.
Thanks in advance. Sincerely yours, Michael
Mesora: Michael, This quote refers to that which is out of man's capabilities, and therefore foolish to involve oneself in. In such a case, man's life is worthless, as stated by the mishna. However, digging for oil, archeology and occupations that are well within our capabilities are certainly permitted, and even sanctioned by God when He said "subdue it" (the world), when instructing Adam to harness all the world's good.
"If you seek it out like silver, and chase after it (Torah) like buried treasures, then you will understand the fear of God, and the knowledge of God will you find." (Proverbs) Keep digging, not just for oil, but for more knowledge!