Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
I recently attended an all-day shidduch program sponsored by the National Council of Young Israel in Manhattan. I spoke to a pediatrician, Dr. Dienstag, who told me that she was seeing female patients as young as nine and ten who had developed eating disorders because they were told that they had to be thin in order to get a good shidduch.
On the flip side, she expressed her concern about the rampant obesity amongst children in our
community. She echoed what I heard a year ago from a pediatric endocrinologist concerning the alarming increase of Type 2 Diabetes in school age youngsters.
Compounding the problem is the fact that many yeshiva boys are easily fracturing their bones because they are deficient in Vitamin D and calcium. They are deficient in Vitamin D because of insufficient exposure to sunlight, and deficient in calcium due to a lack of exercise.
There is a mindset in the haredi communities that any activity not related to learning is bitul z’man, a waste of time. Any activity but learning is seen as frivolous. To that end, children often go to school when it is still dark outside, and come home after dark. Recess periods have become shorter, and gym classes have been obliterated altogether. Recently, some
Hasidic rebbes have begun discouraging unmarried young men from attending weddings, because time used for singing and dancing could be better utilized by learning.
Sadly and probably unwittingly, the Torah world is undermining their children’s health. A colleague related a story to me of spending a Shabbos with friends who live near the shore. A 12 year old son of the family – who was grossly overweight - asked his mother if he could take a walk along the beach. His mother said no, insisting that his time would be better
spent in learning. The boy vented out his frustration by going to the fridge and taking a big chunk of cake to his room. This well-intentioned mother was oblivious to the fact that a stroll would very likely increase his ability to concentrate when he learned. Besides, his enjoyment the world Hashem created would be another form of learning. That is why we recite brachot upon witnessing the beauties of nature such as trees in bloom, great oceans, vast deserts or
lightning and thunder.
Years ago, in Toronto, when my boys were preteens, I was introduced to a man whose credentials on paper were impressive. He was a scientist, a child psychologist, and quite learned. He let me know that if we were to marry, my boys would have to stop playing hockey (they were in a Jewish league - set up for shomer Shabbat kids) since they could use that time for study. (Their pets also would have to go since they took up precious time as well.) I let him know that he could take a proverbial “hike”.
Life - even for children – can be very stressful - and it is a well-known medical fact that exercise relieves stress and strengthens the immune system. Physical activities such as sports also enhance mental health, releasing endorphins in the brain that naturally suppress depression. People who frequently jog experience what has been labelled “runners’ high”
because of how good they feel after an energizing run.
The irony is that educators and parents who are so concerned that their students learn at their
maximum capacity – are restricting the very thing that would increase their students’ ability to absorb information. Children who are physically fit have better circulation and are more alert and learn better than their easily tired, lethargic classmates.
In some cases, yeshivas have inadvertently become the “sweatshops” of the modern era, with
students hunched over their desks hour after hour, just like their great grandparents were hunched over their sewing machines 100 years ago, working 12 hour days. We adults would not tolerate being forced to work at our jobs six days a week from early morning to late evening. Civil rights lawyers would have a heyday in court suing employers with those
expectations! Then why is it OK for our children?
With the kosher nosh industry booming, with dozens of sugary treats overflowing our pantries and tired kids unconsciously overeating to get a temporary energy boosts, this generation of youngsters is at serious risk for diabetes – an extremely insidious disease with lots of serious complications such as blindness, skin ulcers, limb amputations – and cancer and heart disease.
The Torah exhorts us to take care of ourselves. Providing extended recesses, on-campus gym, swimming, even dancing at weddings is a good beginning. Hashem created our bodies as a temple for our neshamas. It’s time to stop desecrating His gift.
As for learning – the healthier one is, the longer one’s life – and the longer one can devote oneself to learning.
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Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
It’s all over.
The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
I have always had a problem with the Omer. Doing the mitzvah of counting the Omer was of course pretty easy. Remembering to start the second evening of Passover and remembering to stop the day before Shavous took a little concentration but somehow I always managed. No, for me the nagging problem was always why was I doing this in the first place, other than the fact it was a biblical (according to the Rambam) commandment.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Dear Dr. Yael:
Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
Shel Silverstein’s 1974 poem “Where The Sidewalk Ends” is intended to paint a magical picture of a world of peace and serenity far away from the “black and dark streets.” At the time, perhaps the end of the sidewalk was a place that was “measured and slow.” Today, however, for many parents, where the sidewalk ends can feel like a scary place.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
The buzz is back as Camp Gan Israel Florida Overnight gears up for another fantastic summer, CGI Florida style. What makes CGI Florida so different from all the other overnight camps? It’s all in the details.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.
The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question – to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?
It was one of those cold, rain-soaked evenings – the kind that make you look forward to a hot drink, a good book and a soft couch to curl up on. With those happy thoughts in mind, I proceeded to cross to the other side of the street.
The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
He stood his ground despite the intense pressure to do what everyone else was doing. His integrity was more important to him than “fitting in.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/fat-free-yeshivas/2004/01/01/
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