web analytics
May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Torah »

Inside-Out


Safran-120613

Chanukah is more than just dreidels and latkes (or even overstuffed jelly donuts). The first Chanukah, way back when, was the story of a struggle between two very different ways of looking at life. The Jewish outlook has always been that the physical world with all its beauty and pleasures is great, but only if it’s used to do good and express higher ethical values. Greek culture taught that beauty and pleasure are where it’s at – period – and let’s keep values and meaning out of the picture.  When we celebrate Chanukah, we affirm our belief that more important than being beautiful or strong, is being moral and good.

In our story a couple of kids discover Chanukah within the walls of a gym.

Avi strained his body to the max; beads of sweat rolled off his face like raindrops. “Okay, push it, push it, Avi. Yeah, you did it, man! You pressed a hundred pounds!”

He and his buddy, Jon, had been trying to make the best use of their winter break by working out every day in the local gym. The long, cold winter usually meant a lot of time indoors and it was hard to exercise. So when the gym advertised a special two-week school-break deal, the guys jumped at the chance to pump some iron.

Avi was good and hungry after the early morning workout, and didn’t know what was taking Jon so long to get changed. Finally Avi’s patience ran out. He went back into the locker room and got his answer. Jon was standing in front of the mirror flexing his muscles.

“Hey, let’s get going, Jon! If you spend any more time in front of that mirror, it’s going to charge you rent,” he laughed.

Jon blushed for a second and then said, “What’s the problem? Don’t you want to see how awesome your muscles look? After all, isn’t this the whole point of doing that record-breaking bench-press of yours?”

Avi shook his head. “No way. I didn’t spend the last 45 minutes sweating bullets just to be able to stand in front of a mirror and admire myself like a peacock.”

Jon clicked his tongue. “Of course it’s not for only us to see,” Jon explained. “All the kids back at school are going to be really impressed too when they see how great we look and…”

“That’s not what I meant.” Avi sniffed.  “Didn’t you pay attention to the Chanukah story we learned on the last day of school? How the Jewish way is to use our physical strength and good looks for something worthwhile?”

“And what could possibly be more worthwhile than looking good?!” quipped Jon as he flexed his bicep. “Anyway, don’t be a hypocrite. You work out as much as I do, and if anything your muscles are bigger than mine.”

“That’s just the point. It’s fine to get physical, but for a purpose. Everything physical – including our bodies – are all just packages for our souls. They’re the tools God gave us to use properly for something really worthwhile, not just to admire.”

Jon, who had by now put his arms down and turned from the mirror, looked confused.

Avi went on. “For instance, do you want to you know why I work out? I admit I like to look good – who wouldn’t? – but the main reason I do it is to keep healthy and have more energy to concentrate in school. And I also do it so I can help around the house, like by shoveling out our driveway, instead of my dad who had an operation a couple of months ago. The big muscles are just ‘the package’ that let me do that.”

About the Author: Nesanel Yoel Safran is a published writer and yeshiva cook. He has been studying Torah for the last 25 years, and lives in Israel with his family.


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 “Inside-Out”

  1. These virtues and values should be taught to all people, not just children. I just learned what Chanukah represented last year, and the more I learn, the better it seems. Keep using those muscles to drive the good deeds, Nesanel.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Israel Envisions Regional Cooperation with Arab Nations
Latest Judaism Stories
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Why did so many of our great sages from the Rambam to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein live outside Israel?

Daf-Yomi-logo

Casting A Doubt
‘Shall We Say [They] Are Not Valid?’
(Nedarim 5a-7a)

Lessons-in-Emunah-new

I was about six years old at the time and recall that very special occasion so well.

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Why was Samson singled out as the only Shofet required to be a nazir from cradle to grave?

“What do you mean?” asked the secretary. “We already issued a ruling and closed the case.”

Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.

This week’s video discusses the important connection between the Priestly Blessing and parenting.

Many of us simply don’t get the need for the Torah to list the exact same gift offering, 12 times!

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

God and the divine origin of His Torah are facts even though we do not fully comprehend them.

More Articles from Nesanel Yoel Safran
Safran-120613

In our story a couple of kids discover Chanukah within the walls of a gym.

Safran-110113

A lot of life comes down to one choice – are we committed to things and behaviors that have real, lasting value, or are we ready to give them up for a momentary thrill?

The world was created soooo long ago that we can feel like it’s “old news.” But by just opening our eyes and seeing the amazing design of the natural world around us, we can feel like we have front-rows seats to creation. Hashem made the world and everything in it — including us — with a master plan. By tuning in to the awesome design in everything around us, we can feel connected to that plan and to Him.

What does it mean to be close to somebody else? One way is to be physically near them, but another, more spiritual way is to try to learn from them and emulate their good qualities. When the Torah instructs us to make ourselves close to, or cleave to Hashem, it doesn’t mean by trying to get to heaven in a rocket ship! Rather it means to think about Hashem and emulate His qualities of kindness, patience, fairness, etc. That is the real measure of how close a person is to G-d.

The three weeks period between the 17 of Tammuz and Tisha b’Av, besides being a time to remember and mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim, is a very special time to focus on love. The spiritual root cause of the churban and all the other tragedies of Jewish history that resulted from it was sinas chinam, disliking and hating each other for no good reason. So it only makes sense that the way to remedy this is to go out of our way, especially during these three weeks, to try to like and love each other — even for no good reason.

No one lives in a vacuum. No, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get sucked up through a vacuum cleaner hose in the pre-Pesach cleaning frenzy, it means that whether we like it or not, our environment—the people and things around us—makes a big impact on who we are.

How can a person make sure that things will work out right? By doing what is right. When Hashem told the Jewish people to rest their fields and not plant any crops every seventh year, shmitta, it was a huge test of faith, as no crops meant no food! But Hashem also told them that if they did what’s right and listen to Him, they wouldn’t lose out because He’d miraculously give them enough crops in other years to more than make up for the year of rest. And that’s what happened.

Even if nobody sees us, everything we do is being watched and recorded on video…by Hashem. Our conscience, that part of us that makes us feel guilty if we do something we shouldn’t have, is Hashem’s loving way of reminding us that He knows what we did, and knows that we’ll feel better, and become better by coming clean and putting it right.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/inside-out/2013/12/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: