CLERGY CORNER: Motivation

Posted on 03 January 2019 by LeslieM

The great Jewish thinker, Maimonides, wrote in the 12th century: “Caring for the health and well-being of the body is one of the ways of serving G d.” And he immediately explains why: “One is unable to think clearly and comprehend truth if he is unwell.”

If your mind is cloudy, you may lack moral clarity to know what’s right. While battling with illness, we may not find the stamina to battle the ills of the world. That’s why we need to look after our bodies. A healthy body is not in itself our life’s purpose; it helps us fulfill our purpose. It is a vehicle that transports us towards goodness, but it is not the destination.

Jewish tradition provides no excuse for being unhealthy. On the contrary, it gives the best reason possible to live healthy: life has meaning and purpose, and each day is precious. Only if life has meaning is it worth taking care of. The risks of high cholesterol, heavy smoking and drug use are a concern only to one who values life. The threat of a shorter lifespan means nothing to someone who sees life as pointless.

We are the healthiest generation in recent history, and our life expectancy is reaching biblical proportions. This means we have more time and energy to fulfill our purpose — to elevate our corner of the world, and tip the scales towards true goodness.

Are you lacking the “motivation” to work out? Have personal trainers, buying exercise class cards, paying for a monthly gym membership and posting motivational quotes on your refrigerator not worked? Are you feeling guilty? Fear not! Perhaps a spiritual approach to working out can get you going. Deeper motivation and insight into the spiritual value of fitness can elevate your experience of working out, which will help you develop a positive relationship with it.

Your body is valuable — and not entirely yours

You were created by a power greater than yourself. Your body is not yours; it is divine “property” entrusted to your care and responsibility. Your body is, therefore, sacred. Thus, working out and keeping your body healthy is not just good for you; it is a critical component in your obligation of protecting and maintaining the treasured gift you were entrusted with: your body. Just as you are charged with protecting and preserving your environment and definitely not harming it, you must also not take your own body for granted. It is your cosmic responsibility to treat your body with respect in every way, which includes getting regular exercise.

Working out helps you to live a meaningful life

When you are healthy, you can concentrate on the things that are important to you. Most significantly, a sound body allows you to focus on your soul, enabling you to fulfill your divine mission in the world and live a meaningful life. Just as the body needs exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, and occasional vitamins or medicine, the soul needs nourishment. This nourishment includes an awareness and connection to a transcendent power, and a unique purpose in life. It’s important that your physical fitness have a spiritual component — an appreciation of the higher purpose of maintaining good health.

Exercise

When exercising think about your body as a sacred entity: You are fine tuning the “vehicle” of your soul’s journey on earth.

Happy New Year and good luck keeping your resolutions.

Special Thanks to my friend and colleague Rabbi Simon Jacobson from Meaningful Life Center — A great source of meditation and information from a Torah perspective.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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