In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2006 / 30 Teves, 5766

Girth vs. worth

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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Yes Judaism believes in cultivating health and well-being, but the most important kind of health is the spiritual kind

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I received a number of questions and objections about my recent column where I wrote that moderate overeating is not unethical . I feel that this is a very important ethical topic, and so in response to the cogent questions I received I want to further explain my position.

First of all, I wonder if the claim that overweight is an ethical failing is clearly thought out. Most Americans, after all, are overweight; should we conclude that most are unethical individuals?

Let's go a little further. The site or newspaper carrying my column also treats you to inspiring pieces by a wide array of individuals of outstanding ethical stature. As your character is strengthened by learning from these gifted individuals, do you ever wonder about their girth?

I doubt that you do, and I certainly don't believe that you should.

Many readers objected that being overweight shortens life. This claim has some ethical weight, but it is limited. Taken to extremes, it would dictate a life dedicated to increasing longevity, mortgaging our quality of life to its mere quantity. A severe "calorie reduction" diet seems to increase life expectancy even for thin people, but I don't think the average thin person is thereby unethical. Many (not all) people find that such a diet involves significant discomfort or loss of functioning, just as many overweight people find dieting unbearable. Studies show that getting more sleep increases life expectancy, but the number of waking hours is diminished. Is it unethical to get the most out of life by managing on five hours of sleep a night?

But the most important objection I have is spiritual. Of course Judaism believes in cultivating health and well-being. Maimonides the rabbi devotes an entire chapter of his authoritative legal work to giving us the benefit of the medical knowledge of Maimonides the world-famous physician. The chapter begins: "Since having a healthy and whole body is among the ways of G-d — for it is impossible for a person to understand or know anything of the knowledge of the Creator when he is sick — therefore a person is required to distance himself from anything which damages the body, and to conduct himself according to those things which invigorate and cure." The chapter goes on to detail the importance of a healthy and moderate diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.

But the most important kind of health and well-being is the spiritual kind. We can find a profound metaphor for this in Oscar Wilde's famous book, The Picture of Dorian Gray. In the book, a handsome young man named Dorian Gray becomes obsessed with maintaining his youthful appearance, and wishes that his portrait should age while he should remain youthful. His wish is granted, and his life of sin and dissipation make his portrait uglier and more repulsive from day to day while his own appearance is unaffected. At his death, the picture suddenly reverts to its original youthful appearance and the actual Dorian Gray dies an ugly old man.

Many Jewish sources describe a similar process, whereby our earthly deeds affect our supernal or spiritual selves. A common way of describing this process is to state that each of the 613 commandments of the Torah corresponds to one organ of this idealized human body.

A life of corruption degrades this self, as experienced by Dorian Gray. Some of the classic moralistic works try to concretize our understanding of sin by an imaging exercise, whereby we imagine ourselves missing some vital limb or organ as a result of transgression.

But a life of virtue has the opposite effect. Even as our external appearance inevitably deteriorates and our health declines with age, our unique spiritual "portrait" gains strength and beauty from year to year, even from minute to minute. While the materialistic culture surrounding us perceives a shriveled and frail old person, our inner vision may enable us to see a man or woman of striking beauty, which cannot be matched by any young person. As our days on earth reach their end, we continue our likeness to Dorian Gray; we change places with our portrait and enter the World of Truth with the traits we have cultivated with our deeds during our life.

The difference is that according to Judaism, we can continue to develop even after death. The Talmud tells us that the righteous go "from strength to strength" even in the world to come, for their good deeds do not end with their passing but continue to have an impact for years or even generations.

I know many individuals who waddle or wheeze their way to the bus stop, but run like gazelles to help others. While physical fitness is definitely praiseworthy and desirable, the most important key to a good and long life is our ethical fitness.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Is it proper to tax bequests?
Ethics of Being Overweight
Penalized for working swiftly
When is it a bluff?
'Rate and switch'
My paycheck is late!
Should schools cater to an elite?
All's fair in love?
Comfort and Competition
Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?

© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics