Judaism’s link to health and fitness

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2This past week, our J staff welcomed staff from six JCCs across the U.S. to learn together. We enjoyed a workshop that prepared us as trainers.

Please wait and watch for the announcement, but I’m not giving away the secret of our training!

A major part of this program is about a Jewish value that is key for JCCs: Sh’mirat HaGuf — caring for the body. Many people are surprised that Judaism has a long history of health and fitness.

Here are a few texts that stress why and how to care for our body (no they didn’t recommend using weights or the treadmill):

  • “The body is the soul’s house. Shouldn’t we therefore take care of our house so that it doesn’t fall into ruin?”

— Philo Judaeus

  • “Since by keeping the body in health and vigor one walks in the ways of God — it being impossible during sickness to have any understanding or knowledge of the Creator — it is a man’s duty to avoid whatever is injurious to the body and cultivate habits conducive to health and vigor.”

— Maimonides

  • “Washing your hands and feet in warm water every evening is better than all the medicines in the world.”

— Babylonian Talmud

  • “ … there is no such thing as excessive body movements and exercise. Because body movements and exercise will ignite natural heat and superfluities will be formed in the body, but they will be expelled. Exercise removes the harm caused by most bad habits, which most people have. Exercise refers both to strong and weak movements, provided it is a movement that is vigorous and affects breathing, increasing it. It is good for the preservation of health to shorten the exercises.”

— Maimonides

The sages saw a close connection between medicine and religion — between the body and the soul. Our bodies belong to God and have been given to us on loan. Caring for your body by keeping it clean and healthy is a religious duty that honors God; neglecting your body or intentionally abusing it is a sin that profanes God.

So join us at the J in The Lieberman Family Wellness Center — it’s a Jewish activity!

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.

Laura Seymour, director is Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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