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Where does the Torah mention fitness and health?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart

  

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Question: I was wondering what the Torah has to say about keeping fit and healthy. Is there a verse about this? Thanks a lot! Sheldon

Answer: Though it is not explicitly stated in the Torah, the Talmud derives this from Deuteronomy 4:15 "And you shall guard yourselves very well...".

Maimonides, in his magnum opus, states "The body being healthy is of the ways of the Lord, for it is impossible to understand or know the knowledge of the Creator while unwell. Therefore, one should keep away from things which destroy the body, and accustom oneself to healthy and curing matters..."

Here is what Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Abridged Code of Jewish Law) says (32:1): Since a healthy and fit body is required by G-d, one cannot understand or know any matters from the knowledge of the Creator if one is ill. Therefore, one must keep oneself away from things which damage the body and accustom oneself to things which heal and make the body well. Therefore, it is written (Yalkut Shimoni, Yitro): "And keep well your souls".

Note how good health is not an end in itself, rather a means to an end - to serve our Creator. Thus one must take care that one's pursuit of good health is not at the expense of serving G-d, rather a part of a complete program of following His directives in observing Torah and Mitzvahs.


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Short addendum

Posted by: Anonymous, beverly hills, ca on Jun 24, 2008

I recently heard that the part of Shema about "with all you heart, with all your soul, and with your possessions" refers directly to being able to serve Hashem in good health; meaning you must be alive and well do so. Similarly, "you shall live by them" i.e. the Torah and it's mitzvot (sorry I am not sure where this verse is) refers to being healthy in order to serve Hashem.

Health and Torah

Posted by: G on May 08, 2009

Bereshit Barah [the first two words of the Torah which are usually translated as 'In the beginning, He created"--ed.]. The word Barah is spelled the same way as the Hebrew word for Health. Therefor - "The first thing is health" . For one will not be able to go any further in the Torah when not healthy. We have all seen the disastrous effects of this kind of behavior. Please - Be responsible and remember - We are put in our bodies by The Holy One Blessed be He (for this short period of time) to do His will - Not ours

RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot
Miscellaneous » Health Issues

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Maimonides
Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
Deuteronomy
The fifth of the Five Books of Moses. This book is a record of the monologue which Moses spoke to the Israelites in the five weeks prior to his passing.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.