Weekly Jewish Wisdom
August 18, 2016
Going for Gold
Has watching the Olympics inspired you to exercise or stretch your fitness goals? I've been pondering this question for the last two weeks and have sadly concluded that I've actually spent more time as a couch potato in front of the TV during the Olympics than I have all year. Having said that, I do feel nightly awe at the way human beings can push the body to be stronger, faster, more agile and more disciplined. Watching these athletes is almost a religious experience.
In many faith traditions, the body and soul are regarded as fierce adversaries. The soul is trapped in the body or a victim of the body's desires. The body pushes the soul off the straight and narrow track. This has hardly been the Jewish way. The body is a holy vessel that holds the soul. As such it needs careful tending. Many rabbis over the centuries have pointed to two verses in the beginning of Deuteronomy as proof that we must not harm the body, and we must take excellent care of it. "Do take utmost care and watch over yourselves scrupulously..." [4:9] and "Carefully guard your souls..." (4:15). The Olympics this year happens to converge with the reading of these verses. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Tweets on the Today's Page of Talmud (Daf Yomi)
"Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty," John D. Rockefeller.
Bava Kamma 87a:"One who is commanded to do mitzvot and does them is greater than one who is not commanded and does them." Obligation matters
"We're all born bald, baby," Telly Savalas.
Bava Kamma 86a: "There is no greater humiliation than this humiliation:" hair loss, claims the Talmud. Personal identity is packaged in hair
"Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something," Plato.
Bava Kamma 85a: "Are we dealing with fools?" the Talmud asks. No one would take money to undergo pain willingly. Maybe some fools would.