Aah! Summertime! Here we are, many of us stretched out in front of the television set, munching on snacks, with our iPhones stuck in one hand while playing video games with the other. Perfect, right?
Actually, we should answer no! Summer has a higher purpose! It is the best time to create a healthy new you—with sunshine, exercise and good nutritious food.
Most of our faiths teach us the importance of taking care not only of our spiritual life but also taking care of our bodies. One could even say it is as important as prayer and caring for others.
Judaism prioritizes following rules for good health. The Kitzur Shuchan Arukh (“the guide to Jewish Law”) teaches: “It is the command of the Almighty (God) that one must keep one’s body healthy and strong.” In other words, Jews are instructed to do whatever is necessary to keep one’s body healthy including eating the right amounts of food; eating regular meals; eating less food on hot days than on cool days; and taking some exercise (walking will do) before and after eating.
Christianity too reminds us that our bodies are gifts from God and should be treated with respect and care: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (Corinthians 6:19-20)
This same message is taught in Islam: “Maintaining physical health should also be an important goal for every Muslim. It not only allows one to live a longer life, but also confers numerous emotional, psychological and most importantly spiritual benefits.” (themuslimvibe.com)
Buddhists are also instructed: “to keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”
The commonality of these messages should be no surprise. In our Houses of Faith we pray for good health for those we love and even for ourselves, but we also express our gratitude for God’s gifts. Of all of the many gifts given to us by the Holy One of Blessings, the gift of our bodies should not be taken for granted. Summertime is the perfect time to begin or to continue developing good healthy habits. And then keep those habits throughout the year.
Have a safe, wholesome and healthy summer!
Rabbi Debbie Israel is Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Emeth and the Executive Director of Interfaith Activities in South County. All faith communities of South County are welcome to participate in the Religion column of the Morgan Hill Times and Gilroy Dispatch. To join the rotation of writers, clergy should contact [email protected].