Monday, August 26, 2013

4 Weeks of Elul 5773 - Week Four: Our Physical Selves

My Dear Friends,

One of the most hotly debated political issues that we, as a nation face is that of affordable health care.  The questions surrounding who should have access to health care and how much it should cost have become so polarizing that they often have been used to torpedo our national political process.  Unfortunately, what often is lost in the rhetoric and political manipulation is the fact that ultimately, what is being discussed and debated revolves around the fact that, as physical beings, we are vulnerable.  Our bodies are the vessels in and through which we encounter both the physical and the spiritual realms.  If we are not physically healthy, then we cannot perform Tikkun Olam - the repairing of our world. Our bodies are holy.  The Torah teaches that we are created B’tzelem Elohim - in the image of God. In this light, taking care of our bodies is a sacred task.  We also are taught that helping others find health and wellness is a vitally important mitzvah.  The simple act of visiting someone who is ill can make a huge difference in their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

During this last week of Elul, I want us to focus on our physical selves.  Again, this is by no means a complete list.  Some questions are repeated from previous years.  Hopefully the questions will provide you with a starting point for examining and improving the relationships in your lives:  As such – I offer the following questions:

  1. Have I taken care of my body through diet and exercise?
  2. Have I prepared medical directives that are clear and unambiguous stating my desires for illness and end-of-life issues?
  3. Have I done all that I could to comfort those around me who are affected by illness – have I performed the mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim – visiting the sick?
  4. Have I allowed political affiliation to blind me to the real issues revolving around the current debate over the implementation of national health care?
  5. How much stress is in my life?  Is it affecting the way I live my life?
  6. What bad habits have I cultivated that I need to change?
  7. Have I been avoiding going to the doctor, dentist or other health care professionals due to financial concerns or fear of what I might discover?
I want to wish all of you a healthy and a happy New Year.  I hope to see you at Selichot services on Saturday night, August 31st at Temple.  We will be watching Woody Allen’s masterpiece, Crimes and Misdemeanors and discussing its relevance to the themes of repentance and forgiveness. The program begins with a “pre-Oneg” at 7:00, followed by the film and discussion at 7:30.  Services – featuring the music of the High Holy Days, begin at 10:00.  Look at your bulletins and e-notes for more information.  To go to our website, click here: 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for additional questions and formats that we can use. This is by no means a complete list of questions. It is just a beginning. If answering any of them causes you to want to speak to one of the Temple clergy, Rabbi Immerman, Cantor Heit, Cantor Sacks and I would welcome the opportunity. Note that all of these materials will be available in several formats: electronically - via email, on our Temple website and Facebook page, in my blog:; and in hard copy at the Temple Office. If you know of anyone else who might want to receive these mailings – whether or not they are members of the congregation, please contact Susie Sigman at .

May this time of Cheshbon Hanefesh be fruitful for all of us as we prepare to enter into the holiest days of the year.

L’Shanah Tovah Tikateyvu – May you have a good year and may we all be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life.


Rabbi Joseph R. Black








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