Machon Meir ENGLISH :MeirTV English
Rabbi Dov Bigon
For over 35 years, Machon Meir has become known throughout Israel as the place to get a deeper understanding what it truly means to be a member of the Jewish people. It has also become the landing point for many new immigrants from all over the world because of the institute’s encouragement of living in the Land of Israel. Machon Meir has also created a strategy to distribute Torah worldwide through their media channel, Arutz Meir. Since it began, Arutz Meir has debuted a range of television series and archived over 25,000 classes which are constantly being updated and viewed daily throughout the world in 5 different languages. With a variety of topics and discussions led by renowned Jewish scholars, our viewers will surely find a class that will create sparks of inspiration. Whether you are looking to connect to your Jewish heritage or you are simply seeking out answers, we exist to imbue the words of Torah and engage our viewers with real and meaningful
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Rav David Partouche
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Rabbi Dov Bigon
“За чашкой чая”
Беседа в тёплой, неформальной обстановке о том,
как современный интеллигентный слушатель воспринимает нашу традицию.
В передаче мы попробуем получить ответы на непростые вопросы,
которые еврейский народ задаёт уже не первое тысячелетие.
Присоединяйтесь, приходите к нам на чашечку чая.
Не стесняйтесь, чувствуйте себя как дома!
Из цикла передач “За Чашкой Чая” 96-го канала из Иерусалима.
Наша Традиция на вашем языке!
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Por más de 35 años, Machon Meir ha dado a conocer a través de Israel como el lugar para obtener una comprensión más profunda lo que realmente significa ser un miembro del pueblo judío. También se ha convertido en el punto de aterrizaje para muchos nuevos inmigrantes de todas partes del mundo, porque de aliento de la vida en la Tierra de Israel del instituto. Majón Meir también ha creado una estrategia para distribuir la Torá en todo el mundo a través de su canal de medios, Arutz Meir. Desde sus inicios, Arutz Meir ha estrenado una serie de series de televisión y archivado más de 25.000 clases que constantemente se están actualizando y ver todos los días en todo el mundo en 5 idiomas diferentes. Con una variedad de temas y discusiones dirigidas por renombrados eruditos judíos, nuestros televidentes seguramente encontrará una clase que va a crear chispas de inspiración.
Rabino Rafael Spangenthal
Machon Meir עברית Rabbi Dov Bigon
הרב יואב מלכא
24JEWISH Parshat Hashavuah, Rabbanim, rav Reuben Ebrahimoff , language english, SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES
FOR FRIDAY NIGHT: Focused on this World (Shlach)
Sivan 14, 5774 · June 12, 2014
Focused on this World
Judaism is all about being spiritual, seeking holiness, looking towards heaven. Or is it? True, Judaism includes these ideas. But the thrust of Jewish teaching is not away from the world, towards heaven. Rather it is focused on this world, and the task to make our complicated, problematical world a “dwelling” for the Divine.
The difference between these two directions in religious life is seen in our Torah reading (“Shelach” – Numbers 13-15) which tells the story of the Twelve Spies. They went to explore the Promised Land and ten of them came back with a very negative report: we will never be able to conquer it, they said. Only Joshua and Caleb disagreed.
Chassidic teachings tell us that the ten Spies were very spiritual people who did not want to face ordinary life as farmers in the Land of Israel. They loved being in the desert, close to the Sanctuary and the Divine Presence, eating Manna. They chose a spiritual path which leads away from normal life. Joshua and Caleb, by contrast, recognized the virtue of being in the world, farming land, buying and selling, being a normal human being – and yet at the same time incorporating a healthy relationship with G-d in all that one does, as guided by the Torah.
Before they went, the Torah tells us that Moses changed Joshua’s name. Instead of being called Hoshea, as previously, he was now to be Joshua, the name by which we remember him today.1
This meant adding the letter Yud to his name, and Rashi comments that this turns the beginning of his name into something like G-d’s name. So “Joshua” can be understood to mean: “G-d will save”. Rashi says this expresses Moses’ prayer concerning Joshua: “May G-d save you from following the path of the other Spies”.
Why should Moses be so concerned particularly about Joshua?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the point here is that a leader has to focus on the people in the world. There are spiritual people who can look heavenward and, perhaps, they achieve genuine holiness. (In fact the Talmud says many strive for this otherworldly path, but few attain it2). A leader, however, has to sacrifice such purely spiritual yearnings for the sake of his central task: to guide and help others, to be with them in their worldly situation.
Moses knew that Joshua was destined to be his successor.3 He knew that Joshua would be the leader of the Jewish people, and therefore it was doubly important that he should not follow the path of the other Spies which leads away from the world. Hence he changed his name, to make sure he would remain focused on the infinite spiritual potential in this world.4
In fact, Chassidic teachings explain that the possibilities of discovering the Essence of the Divine are greater in our physical world than in ethereal spiritual realms. That is the paradox of Jewish teaching: the revelation of the Divine Presence in the Temple in a real, physical Jerusalem is the true goal of Creation. Jewish leadership since Moses and Joshua, and through the generations, including the late Lubavitcher Rebbe in our own epoch, seeks to help us create that Divine Presence in our own personal lives, our homes and our communities, and ultimately in the world as a whole.
CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: The Episode of the Spies — An Entree to Mitzvos (Shlach)
Sivan 14, 5774 · June 12, 2014
The Episode of the Spies — An Entree to Mitzvos
The Torah portion of Shlach relates how Moshe sent 12 individuals to spy out Eretz Yisrael. This was done in order to find out the best and easiest way1 of conquering the land,2 and also to obtain more information about the country and its inhabitants.3
Upon their return, the spies — with the exception of Calev and Yehoshua — committed the grave sin of telling the Jewish people that the land would be impossible to conquer,4 inasmuch as they had witnessed the “inhabitants of the land to be mighty people, who dwelt in fortified cities.”5
Why was the spies’ report considered sinful? They were, after all, sent to find out whether the land’s inhabitants were “mighty or weak” and whether they lived “in open places or in fortified cities.”6 Their response seems to have been entirely appropriate; why is it considered a sin?
In fact, Moshe merely sent the spies to determine the best place from which to start the conquest, and the easiest manner in which it could be achieved by natural means. Since G-d does not perform miracles unnecessarily,7 the Jewish people had to do as much as possible to conquer the land on their own, even if they would eventually have to rely on a miracle. Moshe, however, was sure that Eretz Yisrael was conquerable, for G-d had commanded the Jews to conquer it.
Yet the spies went beyond their assigned task. Not only did they tell the Jewish people about the land and its inhabitants, but they drew an unsolicited (and erroneous) conclusion that the land would be impossible to conquer by natural means, although G-d had so commanded.
The episode of the spies carries an all-important lesson with regard to Torah andmitzvos in general: It is essential to realize that, since all the mitzvos were commanded by G-d, we must have the ability to perform them, for G-d requests of man only that which he is capable of fulfilling.8
Even a human being would not request his fellow to undertake a task which he knows to be beyond the latter’s ability; to do so would be senseless. Surely, the Creator of man is fully aware of man’s potential as well as his weakness. When He commands us to perform a mitzvah , we are surely able to do so.
Nevertheless, even as we are armed with the knowledge that we can fulfill our appointed tasks, we are not to rely on miracles.9 Quite the contrary: the fulfillment ofmitzvos in a natural manner is of primary importance, since the purpose of performing practical commandments is to achieve a dwelling for the A-mighty in this physical world.
Indeed, this was the primary reason for sending the spies: to ascertain the most natural manner of conquering Eretz Yisrael.
There is yet another lesson to be learned from the episode of the spies: A person should contemplate — “scout out” — the significance of the mitzvah he is about to perform.10 Not only should he realize the significance of that particular commandment, but also the intent of all the mitzvos : that he is about to fulfill G-d’s Divine will.
This concept is inherent in the blessing made prior to the performance of all mitzvos : “Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us….” i.e., by performing a mitzvah, the Jew becomes sanctified11 and united12 with G-d, the commander of the mitzvah. And this blessing is made prior13 to performing a mitzvah, for it involves the contemplation of its content and purpose — a “scouting out” of the “land.”
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, pp. 39-42
The passage entitled Shlach relates how 12 individuals were sent to spy out Eretz Yisrael. Upon their return, the spies — except for Calev and Yehoshua — told the people that the land would be impossible to conquer, thereby rousing the people’s wrath against Moshe. The verse goes on to say:14 “And Calev quieted the people about Moshe.”
Rashi explains15 how Calev got their attention: “He screamed and said: ‘Is this all that [Moshe] the son of Amram has done to us?’ ”
The listeners thought he was going to speak badly about him, and since they were already angry with Moshe, they became silent in order to hear more about his shortcomings. Then Calev said: ‘He [Moshe] has split the sea for us; he made themanna descend for us; he has provided us with quail!’ ”
Moshe’s accomplishments on behalf of the Jewish people were extensive. Why doesRashi conclude that Calev referred to these three achievements in particular?
The spies’ case against entering Eretz Yisrael was based on three factors: a) the might of the inhabitants and the fortifications of their cities;16 b) even before entering the land, the Jews would have to confront nations that would not let them proceed;17 c) in mentioning the nations the Jews would have to confront, the spies gave precedence to the Amalekites, who had already “burned” the Jewish people once. This aroused an even greater fear.18
The spies were not satisfied merely to point out the might of Eretz Yisrael’ s populace and cities, for they were aware of the Jewish people’s belief in G-d; since He told them to enter Eretz Yisrael , surely He could intervene in a miraculous manner, as they had witnessed in the past. Therefore, the spies went on to mention the Amalekites, thereby alluding to the fact that, just as the Jews’ earlier doubts in G-d had caused them to be harmed by Amalek,19 so too would doubts about their ability to conquer the land — for which reason they asked that spies be sent20 — cause G-d to refrain from performing miracles on their behalf.
However, since G-d agreed to the request that spies be sent, it was logical to assume that He would enable the Jews to enter Eretz Yisrael , their misdeeds notwithstanding. The spies therefore presented yet a third argument — there were nations that would never allow the Jewish people to make it to the borders. Even if G-d would provide miracles regarding the conquest of the land, who was to say that He would help them enter it?
Calev thereupon brought up three of Moshe’s accomplishments, and in doing so demolished the spies’ arguments.
With regard to the might of the inhabitants, Calev countered with “He has split the sea for us.” At the time of the sea’s splitting, the Jews were faced with a battle that could not be won by natural means. And just as G-d fought for them then, so too would He fight for them in their conquest of the land.
Calev dealt with the argument about the Amalekites by saying: “he has provided us with quail.” Although the request for meat was made with sinful intent,21 G-d provided it nonetheless. Thus, G-d would provide miracles for the Jewish people even after they had erred in requesting that spies be sent.
The final argument of the spies — that there was no proof that G-d would provide miracles concerning those nations that would hinder their entry into the land — was nullified by Calev’s statement, “he made the manna descend for us.” The mannawhich the Jews received in the desert was not essential — the entire journey in the desert was but a preparation for entering the land. Nevertheless, G-d performed miracles even during this preparatory stage. And so too would He provide miracles as the Jews prepared to conquer the land.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, pp. 82-89
TORAH STUDIES: Parshat Shlach
Sivan 13, 5774 · June 11, 2014
The Sidra of Shelach contains the episode of the spies whom Moses sent to gather intelligence about the land of Canaan. Ten of the twelve spies returned with disparaging reports, that although the land was fertile, its inhabitants were too strong and their cities too well guarded to be defeated by the Israelites. The whole story is shot through with difficulties. How could the spies, so soon after the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, doubt that G-d would give them victory? How could the morale of the Israelites be so easily broken? Why did Caleb and Joshua, the only faithful voices amongst the spies, not dispel the anxiety by mentioning the great catalogue of miracles in which the people had witnessed the power of G-d? It is clear that some unease lay beneath the surface of the spies’ behavior. What this was, and how it is capable of affecting us, is the subject of this Sicha.
1. The Spies’ Despair
In our Sidra we read of the report of the spies who were sent by Moses to discover the nature of the promised land of Canaan and its inhabitants. Ten of the twelve returned with a counsel of despair. They broke the morale of the Israelites by suggesting that they would not be able to conquer it because “the people that dwell in the land are fierce and the cities are fortified and very great.” They argued that “We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”
Indeed, the Rabbis in the Talmud1 understood them to have made an even stronger claim. The Hebrew word for “than we” can also be translated as “than Him.” The spies said “they are stronger than Him,” that is, that the Canaanite nations were—as it were—too powerful even for G-d. The Rabbis pungently expressed this audacious proposition as saying, as it were, that “even the master of the house cannot remove his furniture from it.”
What is the meaning of this remarkable episode?
It is part of our spiritual task to remove the cry of despair which the Israelites first gave when they heard the ominous news and which has had its echoes throughout our history. As the Talmud says: That day was the ninth of Av and the Holy One blessed be He said, “They are now weeping for nothing, but I will fix (this day) as an occasion for weeping for generations.” So our many chapters of national mourning have written through them a trace of that moment when faith was lacking in the saving power of G-d. And we have, by faith, to compensate that moment of faithlessness.
But what was the specific meaning of the event? Why did the spies argue as they did? What was the answer to their challenge? And how were they able to reduce the people to despair, a people who had witnessed the great miracles of deliverance—the plagues and the division of the Red Sea—the miracles of protection against the snakes and scorpions of the desert,2 and the miracles of providence, the Manna and the Well? These were not events that made demands on their faith. They had seen them happen with their own eyes. How could the report of ten men suddenly outweigh the natural conviction that what G-d had done to Egypt He would do to Canaan in its turn?
More remarkable still: Why, when Caleb replied to their arguments, did he not mention these recent miracles? They were surely the most convincing proof of his case. And yet we find instead that he says only, “We shall go up, indeed go up, and inherit it (the land) for we are well able to overcome it.” Was it, perhaps, that the Canaanites were a stronger force3 than the Egyptians, so that G-d’s victory in Egypt did not assure victory in Canaan? But this could not have been Caleb’s reason, for at the crossing of the Red Sea the Israelites had sung,4 “All the inhabitants of Canaan are melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them. By the greatness of Your arm they are as silent as stone.” Forty years later, when Joshua began the conquest of the land, evidence of this terror still remained. His two spies were told in Jericho:5 “For we have heard how the L-rd dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt… and as soon as we had heard, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you.” So the Israelites could not have felt that Canaan represented a more formidable obstacle than Egypt, which was the dominant power at that time.6
3. Fear of Involvement
The explanation, given in Chassidut,7 is this. The spies were not animated by fear of physical defeat. Instead they feared a kind of spiritual defeat.
In the wilderness, each of the Israelites’ needs was met by a direct gift from G-d. They did not work for their food. Their bread was the Manna which fell from the heavens; their water came from Miriam’s Well; their clothes did not need repair.8
The possession of the land of Israel meant a new kind of responsibility. The Manna was to cease. Bread would come only through toil. The providential miracles would be replaced by labor; and with labor came the danger of a new preoccupation.
The spies were no ordinary men. They were princes of their tribes, especially selected by Moses for the mission. And their anxiety was a spiritual one. Their fear was, that a concern to work the land and make a living might eventually leave the Israelites with progressively less time and energy for the service of G-d. They said, “It is a land which eats up its inhabitants,” meaning that the land and its labor, and the preoccupation with the materialistic world, would “swallow up” and consume all their energies. Their opinion was that spirituality flourishes best in seclusion and withdrawal, in the protected peace of the wilderness where even the food was “from the heavens.”
4. The Mistake
And yet, the spies were wrong. The purpose of a life lived in Torah is not the elevation of the soul: It is the sanctification of the world.
The end to which every Mitzvah aims is to make a dwelling-place for G-d in the world—to bring G-d to the light within the world, not above it. A Mitzvah seeks to find G-d in the natural, not the supernatural. The miracles which sustained the Jews in the wilderness were not the apex of spiritual experience. They were only a preparation for the real task: Taking possession of the land of Israel and making it a holy land.
We can now see the rationale of the spies’ argument. The miracles which they had witnessed did not prevent them saying of Canaan, “they are stronger than we.” Precisely because the Israelites had been delivered, protected and sustained by miracles, they had been able to dedicate their whole existence to G-d. But in a land where every benefit had to be worked for, their spirituality might decline and be defeated. The miracles were not, in their eyes, a reason for being confident about the entry into the land. On the contrary, they were the reason for wishing to stay in the wilderness. And when as the Talmud says, they claimed that, as it were, “even the master of the house cannot remove his furniture,” they meant: G-d Himself created the natural order (i.e., “His furniture”), and He decided (according to their misconception) not to dwell in the natural world. So long as miracles surrounded them, the Israelites could make themselves into vessels to receive His will. But land, labor, natural law—everything that faced them in the land of Israel—were not the vehicles of Divine revelation. G-d, they argued, is higher than the world. So let us, too, be higher than the world. As soon as we enter the land of Israel we leave this realm.
5. The Miraculous and the Everyday
The spies had drawn a distinction between miracles and natural events, since the natural order is as it is only because it is G-d’s will. But this was their error. For, the inner will of G-d is to be found in the sanctification of the natural world.
And this is why Joshua and Caleb did not comfort the people by talking of the miracles that had taken them this far and which would see them safely into their land.
For, in crossing the Jordan, they were to pass beyond a faith that lives in miracles, into a life that would sanctify time and place, and turn the finite familiar world into the home of G-d.
They said: “If the desire9 of the L-rd is in us, He will bring us into the land… (then its people) are our bread, their defense is removed from over them, and the L-rd is with us, fear them not.”
In other words, if it is G-d’s will that we should enter the land, then we can remain close to Him there. Instead of being “a land that eats up its inhabitants” it will be “our bread.” Instead of our being reduced to its level, it will be raised to ours.
6. Caleb’s Answer
In fact, the miracle concealed in nature is more miraculous than the supernatural.10The plagues, the division of the Red Sea, and all similar supernatural events show that G-d is not confined by nature but can break through its regularities. But a miracle which is clothed in nature shows that G-d is not bound at all, not even by the “confines” of supernatural law; but He can combine the natural with the supernatural. So the Mitzvah, the act which discovers G-d within the everyday shows that G-d is truly everywhere. He does not need the extraordinary to proclaim His presence. He is G-d even within the dimensions of the world. This is the real miracle, that the infinite can inhabit the finite, and that natural and supernatural can become one.
This is what the entry into the land of Israel signified.
And so Caleb’s answer to the ten spies was, “Let us go up, let us indeed go up and inherit the land.” In other words, let us “go up” twice over. We have ascended to the spirituality of the wilderness, we have risen above the concerns of the world. Let us now make a new and greater ascent, finding G-d within the world itself. And let us possess the land, not as someone who buys something from a stranger, but as someone who inherits something because of his oneness with its owner.11
7. The Wilderness of the Day
None of the Torah’s narratives is simply a story. Every Jew experiences the two realms of the wilderness and the land of Israel, and knows the tensions between them. They are two periods in his life, and they are two parts of every day. He begins in the wilderness, in the morning seclusion of learning and prayer. And then he must emerge into the “land of Israel,” the world of business, livelihood and labor.
It is then that he may feel stirring in him the doubts that plagued the spies. While he is learning and praying he feels himself wholly given over to the spiritual demands of Judaism. But in his work he can see little or no religious significance. Worse than that, he may feel that it is “a land that eats up its inhabitants”—that work so consumes him and invades his mind that even while he is praying or learning, the world of his everyday worries constantly intrudes and breaks his concentration.
But he is making the spies’ mistake, of placing G-d outside the world, of failing to respond to G-d’s presence in every human transaction, of forgetting the imperative to “Know Him in all your ways.” He must remember Joshua and Caleb’s words that “if the desire of the L-rd is with us” that we take our Judaism into every facet of our involvement with the world,12 then “they are our bread,” and the world is assimilated into holiness.
There is also another wilderness. The desire of the spies to rest secure in G-d’s miraculous protection was a wish for the intensity of religious experience. Ultimately it was self-centered, because their reluctance to accept the responsibility of changing the world was also an unwillingness to move beyond private satisfactions to helping others. In us, their argument has its counterpart. We are sometimes hesitant in helping others with their spiritual development because we feel it would adversely affect ourselves—we might have to compromise ourselves, or we might become condescending. But these are rationalizations of the same mistake. Spirituality is not self-contained, a private possession not to be shared with the world. Instead, its essence lies in a Jew reaching out beyond himself to his fellow Jew, to the world of his work, extending holiness to everything he touches, without the fear that he is placing his faith at risk, without the thought that this or any situation lies outside the domain of G-d.
(Source: Likkutei Sichot, Vol. IV pp. 1041-1047)
Don’t Diet—Live It!
By Judy Gruen
Sivan 12, 5774 · June 10, 2014
Americans are burned out from dieting, and I say it’s about time. Researchers at The NPD Group, which tracks Americans’ dieting habits, revealed that only 20 percent of American adults reported dieting in 2012, down from a peak of 31 percent in 1991. Only 23 percent of women claimed to be dieting—10 points down from a decade ago.
The very word “diet” has the echo of oppression. Years ago I decided life was too important to obsess over trying to look good in skinny jeans, so I redefined
“diet” as a way to simply get healthier. This was a small stroke of genius, if I may say so myself. No more weighing protein on little scales. No more arbitrary deadlines to lose X amount of weight. After I made this decision, I felt ten pounds lighter already!
I confess, it took me years to slowly peel off a dozen pounds using my new mindset. Pathetic, you might say. Maybe, but my weight never seesawed up and down either. It just kept slowly dropping, as I dared to try things like tofu-vegetable stir-fry dinners and discovered to my shock that I liked them. Today I’m not fat and not slim, but I am at peace with my “huggable” proportions.
As a kid, I loved to eat more than I hated being pudgy. And I was not about to limit soft challah on Shabbat, those gooey brownies at the shul kiddush that I never got at home, and other highly caloric and delicious foods and treats plentifully available in Jewish life. Sometimes I claimed to be dieting but secretly bought cinnamon crumb donuts from the junior high cafeteria. I was jealous of friends who could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight, like my friend Janet, whom I watched toss back four large doughnuts in a row without expanding one millimeter. The existence of Janet’s masterful metabolism might explain my youthful hesitancy to believe in a good and just G‑d.
During college, I realized that my favorite lunch of a double slice of thick-crust pizza with a frozen yogurt chaser was in direct conflict with my goal of attracting a man to marry. I hated jogging, but it beat swimming and the chlorinated water that always ended up in my nose, so I ran, loathing every
minute of it. I cut back on the pizza and discovered fresh broccoli. Fortunately, I liked going green. Exercising more and eating less, I enjoyed the novel sensation of cinching a belt over a defined waistline.
I stayed motivated because eating healthier and exercising, even a little, made me feel better, and I was determined to avoid the health problems that were already beginning to plague my sedentary and overweight parents, still only in their 50s. I refused to get discouraged by my slow progress or by coworkers who said things like “I’d give blood, too, but I don’t weigh enough.”
With His infinite sense of humor, G‑d sent me a husband who was naturally slender and almost indifferent to food. On our first date he wouldn’t finish a single scoop of ice cream after dinner, claiming he was full. Wanting a relationship based on honesty and frankness, I demanded he hand it over. I finished it.
Marriage requires patience and forgiveness, and I have forgiven my husband for still fitting into his wedding suit after twenty-five years and for his unfathomable quirk of “forgetting to eat.” (I text him at work to remind him.) What choice do I have? His love and affection for me have never wavered, no matter if I wear a size 8 or 12.
Raising four kids who for years would only eat pasta, hot dogs, pizza and chicken nuggets—even with broccoli on the side—took its toll. When I realized that my waistline had gone MIA, I vowed to get back in shape. Wanting variety, I tried everything: boot camp fitness, belly dancing, boxing, barre-style Pilates, Bikram yoga, and even some things that didn’t start with the letter B. Ironies abound in the fitness industry, including gym instructors who shout, “Remember to breathe!” (do they think I’ll forget?) and yoga teachers who preach self-love but who correct you in front of everyone saying, “This isn’t an interpretive dance class.” There’s a lot to laugh about, and laughter burns calories. And here’s a tip for you health-food zealots out there: Friends don’t tell friends they have sworn off all white flour and sugar and feel better than ever.
everything else worthwhile in life, getting and staying healthy takes work. But it’s not a zero-sum game. If you can’t exercise four times a week, exercise once or twice a week, and try to build up. You’ll feel better. And instead of looking in the mirror and frowning at a body that doesn’t match our shallow culture’s “ideal” figure, be thankful for all the miraculous things your body does for you every day. The Almighty knows that we human beings tend to focus more on what we don’t have, rather than on what we do have. Our morning blessings are a great opportunity to say “Thank You, G‑d” for some of the most basic things we would otherwise take for granted, like the ability to see, walk, move our arms and think. Starting my day with blessings and a connection to G‑d is also a reminder that what really counts is how I build my spiritual life—those are the muscles I need to keep toning!
I wasted decades obsessing about my weight, and am relieved to have lost that emotional flab. My own Jewish values taught me that G‑d gave me my body as a gift—even if I might quibble with the packaging—to use in building a purposeful life. I work to keep it healthy so that I can keep giving, creating, taking care of my family and living the full and rich life that Torah affords. Focusing “on high” in that way fosters a sense of inner beauty and strength that helps me “just say no” to a big mound of potatoes or that crumb doughnut at the office