web analytics
November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Olympics Obsession With Body Glorification and Might-Makes-Right

Watching the Olympics

Watching the Olympics
Photo Credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90

The Olympics focus on physical prowess places brawl over brain, and body over spirit, in the hierarchy of importance. This paradigm needs to be shifted. Fitness comes from feeding both soul and body and strength is not only about defeating others but cooperating with others.

My revered mentor the Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994) often admonished that it is incumbent to maintain optimal health because a healthy body is a healthy spirit. Studies demonstrate that exercise helps reduce anxiety, promotes better sleep, combats disease, improves mood, and even chemically alleviates depression by releasing endorphins and neurotransmitters.

Bodily health alone is not enough. One needs a healthy body in conjunction with a healthy mind. Obsessing over body image can lead to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, malnourishment, depression and compulsive overeating. Neglecting the body by entirely focusing on the mind is also not the answer. We need a balance of fit mind and fit body.

My grandfather Reuven Helman was born in Israel-Palestine in 1927. He was an Olympian recognized as a weightlifting champion, distinguished athlete in Track and Field, the Decathlon and for his career as an athletic instructor. His ability to handily hoist 330 pounds wasn’t enough to keep him healthy. He needed a sense of purpose, peace of mind.

That moment of synergizing his physical health with his spirit came in the early 1950′s when the Rebbe handed him a sefer Torah, a handwritten scroll of the five books of Moses, on the Holiday of Simchat Torah - telling him to “dance with the Torah like a true champion.” The message was that you need purpose, spirit, and soul to be a champion not just a good physique.

Pirkei Avos, a book on Jewish ethics, teaches that the hallmark of true strength is self-discipline. Not conquering others, but conquering ones self. Working cooperatively with others is what civilization is based on, not exerting brute force over others.

Several Olympians this year have made racially hateful remarks toward their fellow competitors. The Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou Tweeted: “With so many Africans in Greece at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food;” and Swiss soccer defender Michel Morganella Tweeted after Switzerland lost, 2-1, to South Korea: “I’m going to beat up every Korean. Go on — burn yourselves!”

There is nothing wrong with competition and testing the limits of the body, when it is coupled with mutual respect and ethical sportsmanship. The Olympics is about uniting nations not dividing them. It is not all about which country is ahead on the leader board. By combining a healthy body with a healthy spirit we can help achieve the goal of unity, respect and cooperation.

About the Author: Eliyahu Federman regularly contributes to the Huffington Post, Algemeiner Journal and Jerusalem Post. The views expressed above are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Olympics Obsession With Body Glorification and Might-Makes-Right”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    Good point. The real test of strength is fighting the yatzer hara and winning.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Is that a chicken or Tzipi Livni ready to be sacrificed?
Coalition Plays ‘Chicken’ and Runs Away from New Elections
Latest Indepth Stories
Jerusalem_engraving_by William Miller after H Warren

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

David Ben-Gurion publicly pronounces the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14 1948, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

beta-israel2

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

Jo-map

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.

More Articles from Eliyahu Federman
rc_hasidim

In subsequent email correspondence with Berkowitz, the producer of NBC readily admits that Berkwoitz did not advocate that victims turn to rabbis instead of the police.

Sexual Abuse

If children are old enough to be on the Internet, they should be mature enough to hear the word “sex” or “sexual” in the context of discussing abuse.

Notions of animal cruelty do not apply to fish under Jewish law, so by using a fish for the Kapparot ritual one would avoid causing unnecessary pain to an animal yet still have the benefit of using a live creature for the ritual.

There is nothing wrong with competition and testing the limits of the body, when it is coupled with mutual respect and ethical sportsmanship.

When Free Speech Collides with Hate Speech, Truth is the Remedy.

Two decades after the Crown Heights riots of August 19-21, 1991, the focus in much of the reporting on the anniversary of the violence centered on the importance of healing racial tensions, with the clear implication that the rioting was the culmination of long-simmering tensions between the black and Jewish communities.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-olympics-obsession-with-body-glorification-and-might-makes-right/2012/08/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: