Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Four Weeks of Elul 5776- Week Four: Our Physical Selves

Sue and I have two exercise machines in our basement – an elliptical and a treadmill.  When we bought them 3 years ago, we were determined that we would use them at least 4-5 times a week.  We figured it would be easy to just roll out of bed in the morning, put on our workout clothes and get in some exercise before the day started.
During the first few weeks we were very successful.  We had our routine: we even recorded TV shows on our DVR that we could watch as we shvitzed.  However, as the days and weeks went by, 4-5 times a week morphed into 2-3 times, then once a week, then….maybe one time a month…and soon, we avoided the basement altogether because our exercise equipment became a reminder of what we had hoped to accomplish, but couldn’t always get around to completing.
There have been fits and spurts when we have gotten back into the routine of exercise – especially after vacations and holidays when we looked at our excesses in the bathroom mirror and realized that we needed to take drastic measures .  Sue upped her game in anticipation of her High School Reunion this summer and this past week I started again: three days in a row on the Elliptical machine is a powerful way to lead into Rosh Hashanah.  I don’t know if I will be able to keep going long term, but I’m feeling good for now.

Truth be told, our failures in the past should not be seen as an excuse for not trying to improve ourselves in the present.  It is never too late to start healthy habits.  During the past 3 weeks we have focused on our spiritual selves, our relationships, and our responsibility to community. This week, I want us to be very much aware of our physical selves. If we do not take care of our health, 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.  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 truly appreciated and taken advantage of the beauty of the mountains that surround me?
  5. How much stress is in my life?  Is it affecting my daily activities?
  6. What bad habits have I cultivated that I need to change?
  7. What positive habits should I trying to incorporate into my daily routine? 

Again, these questions are in no way complete.  If answering any of them causes you to want to speak to one of the Temple clergy, Rabbi Immerman, Cantor Sacks and I would welcome the opportunity.  Note that all of these materials will also be available 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, contact the Temple and we will send them to you.

L’shanah Tovah U’metukah – May you have a good and sweet new year,

Rabbi Joseph R. Black

P.S. If you have not yet seen our Congregation’s High Holiday Video, R.E.P.E.N.T., here’s a link for you to watch and share:

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