difficult for most folks to paste on a happy face securely when inside they are
miserable or not taking care of
themselves. It may work briefly, but
quickly the interpersonal antennae pick up the discrepancy. Often the inner
unhappiness comes from sheer exhaustion, not making wise food choices and
neglecting physical exercise.
than an indulgence, taking care of our physical and emotional well-being is paramount
for being in service to G-d as well as service to one another. It is a mitzvah
to take care of ourselves and our commitment to health has a profound effect on
that the body will be a fitting instrument with which to perform the mitzvot, G-d commanded us to protect
and guard our bodies. : "Guard
yourself and guard your soul very carefully" (Deuteronomy 4:9-10).
commandment is so important that our rabbis taught that it is part of the
commandment not to forget the Giving of the Torah: "Guard yourself and
guard your soul very much lest you forget. the day when you stood before the
Eternal your G-d at Mt. Horev" (Deuteronomy 4:9-10). The classic
commentator Kli Yakar explains: "'Guard yourself' means taking care
of the body."
As stated byMaimonides "A person must avoid anything that may harm the body,
and must cultivate healthy habits" (Hilchot Deot 4:1). In other words, the mitzvah of self-care has
two sides: avoiding all risks to the body and acquiring good health habits.
of the most important elements in the path to G-d is the health and strength of
the physical body. Throughout the generations our rabbis have emphasized
how important is the Torah commandment to be healthy and strong. In the
list of our country’s transgressions, we have to include the fact that so many
disregard their health. Despite compelling research, smoking, drinking, over
indulgence of junk food and too much screen time are causing and will cause
millions of us misery.
order to fulfill the Biblical obligation to maintain our health, the
performance of physical exercise should be viewed as a part of the fulfillment
of this Torah commandment In his law code, the Mishneh Torah (Deot 4:14, 15)
Maimonides wrote that one is to"exercise and exert oneself greatly."
As we enter this month of June and the beginning of
the summer season, let’s take to heart the guidance of our Torah and sages to
take the very best care of ourselves so that the light within will be reflected
in the genuine light and delight in our faces.