Will I drive or will I walk?

September 18, 2018 by Rabbi Eli Schlanger
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Relate with me here: have you ever ventured out to buy a bottle of milk from the corner store, only to find out it’s been demolished and converted into a gym?…writes Rabbi Eli Schlanger.

Rabbi Eli Schlanger

How about a comparison of the clean meals we eat today, versus the days where we celebrated satisfaction with excessively oversized meals, consisting of a double burger with a side of hot-chips, topped off with an ice-cream for desert? Have you noticed how a large percentage of people, between the ages of 20 and 35, occupy some variation of the role of a personal trainer or dietitian, their posts congesting your entire Facebook feed and Insta stories? Have you also noticed that your friends and neighbors have suddenly turned into marathon titleholders, running city to surf- an entire 14 kilometers- in just one morning?

It’s inspiring to see society evolve, continuously taking on new and never-ending physical and emotional sacrifices; dieting, training, running, dancing, etc. In this regard, the world is heading on a remarkable route- something that should be encouraged and applauded. Modern society has come to the realization that health is imperative. What we eat, how we feel, and even how we look is crucial to a long life.

But should the neuroticism stop there?

When one builds a home, the bricks and cement are irreplaceable. However, without a blueprint or a manual, it will crumble.

Over 3000 years ago, the holy Torah was given to the Jewish people. The Torah is the blue print to the world and the manual to a successful life of health, Nachas (Yidishe pleasure from your children), and Parnoso (money). Is it worth it to neglect the blue print of the world, and forget to bring Torah into our daily lives? We may still have short term satisfactions, but not a life of inner substance or eternal sustainability.

With a bit of self-determination and a nudge from your Rabbi, it may not be that hard to opt for that 20+ minute walk to your Synagogue as opposed to the short drive. While it may not get you a champion’s gold medal, it will definitely equate to a gold medal in G-d’s books.

I’ll never forget those long, Shabbat morning walks of my childhood: 5 years old, hand-in-hand with my father, walking from our home in Golders Green to the Chabad Synagogue in Hampstead Garden Suburb- a distance of 2.5 Kilometers, which took approximately 30 minutes in each direction. Those quality strolls held invaluable conversations, filled with appreciation of G-d’s wonders that surrounded us. Those cherished memories don’t include any sort of aches, pains or agony; just bliss.

With another bit of determination, you may even consider the Kosher chicken and beef at your local supermarket. Rumor has it that it’s healthier, and I’m guessing it’s for that exact reason that I, on more than one occasion, have spotted gentiles snooping around the meat-packed fridge in the Kosher section. Granted, it may be a little more pricey, and you may have to eliminate a couple take-out meals a week to fit it into your budget, but it’s assuredly worth it.

Self-perfection is virtuous. Keep it up! However, consider the additions of the most important values, goals and reasons to it- G-d. Your creator, the source of your everything: your health, your ability to have children, your money, your happiness… the list doesn’t end. G-d wantsyou to be healthy. It’s a clear statement in the Torah: “Guard yourself and guard your soul very much”. You see, it’s even a mitzvah.

On Yom Kippur this year, consider walking to synagogue. And while you’re famished and walking, consider eating kosher meat this year.

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