Are Health and Fitness Jewish Values? | My Jewish Learning

Are Health and Fitness Jewish Values? | My Jewish Learning

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Because our bodies are receptacles of our souls, and vessels of Gods light, we must keep them healthy and consider carefully what we put into them. Standard Jewish thought recommends that we must keep our bodies well for the sake of spiritual pursuits and in order to meet mitzvot, rules. Today nevertheless, a focus on fitness is typically seen as vain or poorly secular.Balancing Torah & & Physical ActivityIt is fascinating to see how far back in our custom concerns with our physical selves and the balancing of Torah and exercise can be found. Currently in the Talmud (Shabbat 82a), Rav Huna urges his son Rabbah to study with Rav Hisda. Rabbah withstands, saying that Rav Hisda focuses only on secular matters: anatomy and health. Rav Huna admonishes his son, saying, “He speaks of health matters, and you call that nonreligious!” Though some individuals in the Orthodox world might value exercise, to state that as a community we do so, either philosophically, or in an arranged fashion, would be a stretch.Maimonides Health TipsIndeed, one finds a hesitation to focus on exercise, in part since time is so limited and time invested in sport is time not spent on Torah study or hesed (kind deeds) activity. Numerous of us are familiar with Maimonides long conversations in the Mishneh Torah about the value of workout and healthy, determined eating, we seldom take the information of his many suggestions to heart. For instance, Maimonides states that an individual “must engage ones body and put in oneself in a sweat-producing job each early morning.” Despite Maimonides words, this midpoint of exercise is just not part of normative Orthodox Judaism.Many of us are likewise mindful of the everyday morning tefillah (prayer) that concentrates on our health and posture: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of deep space, who corrects the alignment of the bent.” Is this just a metaphor, or would involvement in workout that corrects our bodies so they are not stooped, stooped, bent, or subject to skeletal discomfort, not assist us be real to the profound words of our prayer?Awaking Your BonesMartin Buber taped a story of Rav Simhah Bunim, of Przysucha, who took really actually the words of our prayer that connect to physical awareness. According to the story, Rav Simhah arrived late for synagogue one Shabbat morning. When asked why he was so late, he estimated from Pesukei dzimra, preliminary true blessings and psalms (Psalms 35:10), which he had missed reciting since of his lateness: “All my bones shall state, who is like You, God?” How then, Rav Simhah asked, might he pertain to hope before his bones were all awake?Most most likely, we see the words of Psalms that Rav Simhah quoted in a metaphorical sense. Anybody who has done yoga, or any type of extensive physical activity, understands that awakening our bones need not be simply a metaphorical act. It can be profoundly physical in addition to mental, and these worlds link to the spiritual. Nowhere am I more mindful of just how much yoga has awakened my bones, extended my spinal column, and grounded my position than when I prepare and stand to say the Amidah.Rav Kook Connects The Physical & & The SpiritualIn the 20th century, Rav Kook went much even more in connecting spiritual and physical health. He declared that physical health is in itself a value in the process of repentance and that, in each human organism, there is a consistent reciprocal relationship in between body and spirit. Rav Kook promoted a Zionism that make every effort to restore health to the body of the Jewish people so that its spiritual life could flower to its max. He planned this repair to take place not just on the metaphorical level in regards to the strength of the State of Israel however also with regard to the strength of everyone:” Great is our physical need. We need a healthy body. We dealt much with soulfulness; we forgot the holiness of the body. We overlooked the physical health and strength; we forgot that we have holy flesh; no less than holy spirit …” He continues: “Our teshuva (repentance) will be successful only if it will be– with all its superb spirituality– also a physical return, which produces healthy blood, healthy flesh, magnificent solid bodies, an intense spirit radiating over effective muscles …” An appropriate focus on physical health is related to how and what we eat. Jewish custom has intricate guidelines for how we are to approach food: what we are permitted to eat, when we may eat it, how it needs to be prepared, and what types of true blessings we are to recite over each bite that enters our mouths. Given this religious framework, one may presume that Jews would have a healthy relationship with food.” Traditional Foods” However, we succumb to the very same food trends and eating-related illness that pester society at big. When the words “Jews and food” are mentioned together, the reverence our custom has actually historically had for food is not the first thing that enters your mind. Instead, we recognize, often with humor, how connected our events and holidays are with food customizeds and with consuming. No considerable date in the Jewish calendar is properly observed without either an overwhelming abundance or total lack of food. Our events are well-known for fare ranging from bagels, lox, and rugelach to full-blown, all-you-can-eat smorgasbords.An examination of a few of the disconnect that has developed between Jews and our ancient relate to food, can assist us regain a more healthful and favorable attitude towards eating. While farming dictated the lives of our forefathers, contemporary Jews should typically reference a list to find out which berakha (true blessing) to state on a provided piece of food. Lots of foods we think about “conventional” today arise from the efforts of hungry individuals to ensure that no animal parts went to waste.Ironically, we now scour specialty food markets for exotic ingredients to prepare the “traditional” foods that were once merely the regional fare of our dispersed Diaspora ancestors, valuing the wisdom we find in a dish over our own fresh and local active ingredients. There are modern-day nonreligious food movements called “sluggish food” (a counter to “fast” food) and “local food” which prompt people to appreciate and understand how food is grown and collected, and if possible, to get involved in these activities themselves.Like fitness patterns, Orthodox Jews are not at the leading edge of these food movements. Nevertheless, one can argue that the true blessings that we recite over food in our tradition promote the very same type of awareness and reverence these motions encourage.Discovering The Origins of Our FoodThe formulation of the food true blessings not only permits us to thank the Creator for something with which to fill our stomaches, but also demands that we have understanding about the origins of our food. To pick the correct blessing, we must know how an offered food grows (on trees or closer to the ground, for example), what secret ingredients a meal consists of, and what kind of processing a food has undergone prior to it shows up on our table.Our blessings likewise show in their phrasing a concern for the nutritional content of food. “Birkat hamazon” actually means “blessing over sustenance.” The true blessing ending with the words, “borei minei mezonot” gives thanks to “the One who produces sustenance.” We have a halachic (Jewish law) obligation to provide thanks to God for all the food we pick to eat, even “processed food” that can be destructive to our health.Nevertheless, the words of our food true blessing, if recited with intent, are a consistent suggestion to put into our bodies, Gods vessels, food that is nourishing. And a true blessing stated on a food eaten when truly hungry, is, in the majority of cases, said with a level of intention far greater than a blessing mouthed over food consumed past the point of hunger. In other words, Judaism has supplied us with thoughtful food true blessing, and these, if said with kavanah (intent), are most likely to cause healthier eating.The questions of how and what we eat and how we treat our bodies are both spiritual and physical, and they are absolutely Jewish concerns. Both our tefillot (prayers) and our berakhot (blessings) would be more significant and our consuming would be more healthy if we took the time to explore and consider these concerns seriously. At the exact same time we need to acknowledge that our spiritual customs do give us a framework for relating appropriately to our physical selves.Reprinted with authorization from JOFA, The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.
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Lots of foods we consider “standard” today result from the efforts of starving individuals to guarantee that no animal parts went to waste.Ironically, we now scour specialty food markets for unique active ingredients to prepare the “conventional” foods that were once just the local fare of our dispersed Diaspora forefathers, valuing the knowledge we discover in a dish over our own fresh and regional ingredients. There are contemporary secular food movements called “sluggish food” (a counter to “fast” food) and “regional food” which advise individuals to value and know how food is grown and harvested, and if possible, to get involved in these activities themselves.Like fitness patterns, Orthodox Jews are not at the leading edge of these food motions. One can argue that the blessings that we recite over food in our custom promote the same type of awareness and reverence these motions encourage.Discovering The Origins of Our FoodThe formula of the food blessings not just permits us to thank the Creator for something with which to fill our stomaches, however likewise requires that we have understanding about the origins of our food. To choose the right true blessing, we must know how a provided food grows (on trees or closer to the ground, for example), what key components a dish includes, and what type of processing a food has gone through prior to it shows up on our table.Our true blessings likewise show in their wording a concern for the dietary material of food. We have a halachic (Jewish law) commitment to offer thanks to God for all the food we pick to eat, even “junk food” that can be harmful to our health.Nevertheless, the words of our food blessing, if recited with intent, are a consistent tip to put into our bodies, Gods vessels, food that is nourishing.


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