Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Gezunt is Yiddish for health; though not appearing in Tanach in this form, it is nonetheless a biblical imperative to preserve and maintain one’s health as connected to our basic creation. The Torah explicitly commands (Devarim 4:15) that we must watch over our bodies. The connection between creation and health is taught by Hillel the elder (Vayikra Rabba 34:3): Once, when Hillel had concluded a class with his disciples, he left the House of Study with them.

The disciples asked him “Master, where are you going?” He replied: “To fulfill a religious obligation.”

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“What is this religious obligation?”

He replied: “I am going to the bathhouse to bathe.”

The disciples were astonished and asked, “Is that really a religious obligation?” Hillel answered, “Yes! If somebody who is appointed to scrape and clean the statues of the king that stand in the theaters, and circuses is paid for the work, and even associates with the nobility, how much more should I, who am created in the image and likeness of G-d, take care of my body?” As reflections of “the image of Hashem” we must maintain our healthy bodies, selves and souls – Zei Gezunt!

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Shani Taragin is educational director of Matan-Bellows Eshkolot Tanakh teachers’ programs and Mizrachi Olami Lapidot. Shani directs, leads tours, coordinates, and teaches Tanach, Talmud, Halacha and women’s health in numerous seminaries and adult education programs in Israel and worldwide. Shani lives with her family in Alon Shvut, Gush Etzion-Israel.