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The mitzvah of health

Question:

Hi Rabbi. Im sorry the question is long. I would appreciate your feedback.

I’m learning in depth about the mitzvah of health and how all the big rabbis and leaders (Rambam, Chafetz Chaim -and others) both focused on guarding their own health AND spoke about this to their students and encouraged them to have a health minded lifestyle.

My question is as follows :

From my personal experience – I do not see this mitzvah (of guarding your health) being a priority (or even ever mentioned or implemented or encouraged at all!) in schools nor Shuls. (At least in Brooklyn, NY where I live)

I’m wondering why that is???

I would appreciate any feedback on

1. This topic – health

2. Why don’t leaders and educators in the jewish community talk about it. (I’m schools and Shuls)

Thank you.

 

Answer:

Hello,

Everyone agrees that we have to guard our health, and whenever he topic comes up all Rabbonim will say so, and everyone knows this. What you mean, is why ae the Rabbonim telling their congregants to eat healthy, do exercise, etc. After all, we see in the Rambam that in Hilchos Daos Chapter 4 talks about which foods are healthy to eat and which aren’t.  It is interesting, that although very often we rule according to the Rambam’s opinion, although the Rambam was a great doctor, we don’t find in the Shulchan Aruch that his instructions mentioned. My understanding of this is because, there is an idea called “nistanu hativim” that the nature of people changes with time. This is due to the climate that different people live in, and other factors, therefore what was unhealthy in the time of the Rambam, may not apply nowadays. For example, the Rambam says not to eat, because they aren’t healthy, however nowadays we don’t find that anyone in the medical establishment says not to eat them. Therefore, we have to listen to the health guidelines and advice of contemporary doctors. This is not at all clear, as we have seen during Covid, that one doctor will say one thing, and another will say something else. Everyone once in a while the medical establishment changes their opinion if eggs are healthy to eat or not. Therefore, it is not advisable for the Rabbonim to discuss this, and it is not their specialty.

Additionally, we also have to be practical, and know where to pick our battles. There are many things that have to be spoken about, and the Rov has to decide, based on the audience, their needs, and what they will listen to, what to talk about. The Rabbonim, have plenty to talk about regarding our spiritual health, to keep them quite busy, and talking about health issues, might not be accepted well.

Bottom line, everyone agrees, that we have to be careful about our health. Hashem should help you to stay healthy for many, many years.

Best wishes

 

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