Below are the best Hanukkah (Chanuka) blogs from Seeking Simcha. I hope these favorites brighten your holiday and inspire you!
I believe the Hanukkah story, which transpired thousands of years ago, has shaped classical Jewish attitudes towards fitness, diet and exercise.
The ancient Greeks, led by Alexander the Great, conquered Jerusalem. Greek society idealized the human body and its citizens spent much time developing their physical attributes and thinking about their looks, and even held sporting events where competitors preened without clothing. The human body was so venerated in ancient Greece that its Olympians practiced and competed nude!
In late May, I decided to get serious about improving my health. Since then, I’ve lost 20 pounds (9 kilos) and feel MUCH better. Six relatively easy steps have helped me transition to a healthier lifestyle.
It’s difficult to run to do mitzvot when your back and knees hurt.
It’s much easier to study Torah in a Yeshiva or Beit Midrash than it is in a hospital.
One must be alive and breathing to do good deeds for others.
Despite the skepticism of some in the traditional Jewish community towards healthy nutrition and fitness for a variety of reasons (which I covered in my last blog post), Judaism has always stressed taking care of one’s health and body. Our holy souls should not be housed in defiled vessels.
As part of my efforts to feel greater happiness (simcha) and joy, I have begun working out and watching what I eat. I already feel a little better, but is my new focus at odds with traditional Judaism?
Unfortunately, there are some in the community who have taken a negative view of proper nutrition and physical fitness for a variety of reasons:
1. Exercise is a waste of time: wasting time is a serious offense in traditional Judaism and the Rabbis taught us to preoccupy ourselves mostly with Torah study, good deeds and prayer. It is sometimes difficult to find time to exercise when one also prays three times a day (in addition to all of life’s other responsibilities).