Monday, September 29, 2014

Judaism's Top 40 - Tishrei 6 - Shmirat ha-Guf - Taking care of our bodies

Judaism, unlike other faith traditions, values the body every bit as much as the soul.  Natural physical inclinations like hunger and lust are not considered in themselves evil, and in fact often yield positive results.  Without lust, for instance, there would not be procreation.  The key is moderation. 

Maimonides was Mr. Moderation.  As a physician and rabbi, he understood that the key to a sound mind was to maintain a sound body.

In his Mishna Torah, Maimonides listed the top ten services that must be provided by any community. It is noteworthy that #1 on his list is health care. What was true 9 centuries ago is true today.

23) It is not permitted for a learned sage to live in a town which does not have the following ten things: a doctor, a blood-letter, a wash-house, a toilet, naturally occurring water such as a river or spring, a synagogue, a midwife, a scribe, a warden of charity and a Court of Law
which imprisons people.

See the entire chapter on health (it's fascinating - remember, he was a doctor) at
Did you know, for instance, that

...One should not eat until one's stomach is [very] full, but one should [only] eat until one's stomach is three-quarters full. Nor should one drink water during a meal, except a little mixed with wine, but once the food begins to digest one should what one needs to drink, but one should never drink too much, even when the food digests. One should nor eat unless one has checked oneself to make sure that one does not need to relieve oneself. One should not eat unless one has first relieved oneself, or until one's body gets warm, or unless one has worked at something else first. The general rule of the matter is that one should always answer one's body. In the morning, one should work until one's body gets warm, then one should wait until one's soul has settled, and then one may eat. It is good to wash in hot water after having worked, then wait a while, and then eat.

Who needs "Doctor Mom" when we can get the straight dope from "Dr. Rambam."

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