Photo Credit: Tradition Press

Title: Am I My Body’s Keeper? – Revised and Expanded
ByL Michael Kaufman
Tradition Press



The aim of the whole Torah is the perfection of the soul and the perfection of the body. (Rambam)

“Judaism is a religion of both the body and the spirit,” writes Michael Kaufman. And though that is true, in Judaism there has always been much more of an emphasis on the spirit than the body. Go through a selection of books at any Jewish bookstore, and you will see a paltry number of books about health and exercise, in comparison to the volume of books regarding spiritual topics. And yet, paradoxically without a healthy body, we cannot learn Torah, do mitzvot, nor are we capable of serving Hashem. It is thus vitally important to our spiritual health to safeguard our physical health. As religious Jews, we need to be as punctilious and enthusiastic about the mitzvot regarding the body, as we are those regarding the soul.

“When G-d created the human body, He provided a user’s manual – the Torah and the teachings of Chazal. As important as these teachings regarding health and physical fitness may be – they involve, literally, life and death – most Jews behave as if they are oblivious of them; if they do acknowledge these teachings, they consider them to be inconsequential, unworthy of serious attention. Thus, the sections that pertain to caring for the body are among the most neglected in the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch. Paradoxically, this is particularly true in the yeshivah world, among those who know the Gemara, the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch best.”

Am I My Body’s Keeper? has almost 60 pages of footnotes, with a plethora of sources spanning millennia, elucidating that being healthy is a dictum of the Torah and we must obey it, as we do every other mitzvah.

When you seek advice about any topic, you will go to a person who practices what he preaches and enjoys success. Kaufman, a nonagenarian, still exercises every day and limits the time he spends sitting. He devotes a great amount of time to staying healthy, so that he lives a long life in which he can dedicate himself – body and soul – to serving G-d.

In the same way there is minutiae regarding each and every mitzvah that we perform, there is similar minutiae regarding how we safeguard our bodies from ill health, danger, infection, and deterioration. If our bodies are healthy, are minds are healthy; and if our minds are healthy, our souls are healthy.

“A G-d-directed Jew lives his life guided by the Torah and Chazal (the Jewish Sages), and prioritizes his obligations. Since a prerequisite for living a Torah life is obviously “living,” the Jew’s basic duty is to be healthy and fit. If we don’t live healthy lifestyles, we will shorten our lives, at times by a considerable number of years, and, of course, perform far fewer mitzvos.”

This compendium of tips for living a healthy life – diet, exercise, hygiene, and environment – has been praised and recommended by doctors and Torah scholars, alike.

If you’ve read the first edition, there’s a whole lot more here to learn, and if you haven’t read the first edition, this is your chance to upgrade your quality (and quantity) of life. The revised and expanded Am I My Body’s Keeper? an easy-to-read guide to health, fitness and longevity, may be obtained on Amazon. or through the author at: [email protected].

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