“If it’s not practical, it’s not Torah.” Rabbi Leib Kellemen
Yes, Judaism has wisdom on every aspect of our lives, including health. Maimonides, referred to as the Rambam, was a doctor and Torah giant who lived in the 12th century, and shared with the world, based on Torah and medical sources, the importance of physical health in terms of achieving your spiritual potential in this world.
Long before enlightened modern-day nutritionists taught us about food combinations, the Rambam spoke about which foods are good for you, and which are not, and how to eat food in the healthiest way. For example, white bread is terrible (yes, we know that, but back then, they did not). You should chew each bite thoroughly, not eat standing up. For best digestion, you should drink before a meal or after, but not during.
After sharing a long list of instructions regarding diet, he speaks about exercise. He said that even if you follow the recommendations, you will get sick unless you live a physically rigorous life.
Let’s remember that he was speaking to people who on a daily basis were far more physical than we are (they did not drive everywhere, have food conveniently packaged and ready-to-eat, etc.). These were people who had to haul water from the river, slaughter and pluck their chickens, work the fields, and walk everywhere. He was telling them that they must also exercise!
Imagine him seeing us now — sitting on chairs in front of our computers all day, ordering in our food, and sitting in cars even to get to a place a few blocks away.
I personally always have a reason not to exercise, and since before COVID, I lived a very physically active life, I was in pretty good shape. But since the beginning of March, I have never been so sedentary — and my body feels it. And since I am not getting any younger, I must be proactive in this area not just for how I look, but for my very life. Studies show that those who are overweight are more likely to die from many diseases, including COVID.
This week I decided that every time my husband says, “Want to go for a walk?”, as long as I am not in a virtual meeting, I will stop what I am doing and say, “Yes!”
It’s not a complete solution, but it’s a start.
Stay safe and well and let’s get moving!