On Tuesday evening, July 19, Rebbetzin Devorah Kigel, well-known speaker and rebbetzin for Emet Outreach, and Rabbi Reuven Kigel, well-known speaker and rabbi for Emet Outreach, shared a virtual class on behalf of Emet Outreach on the mitzvah of eating healthfully and living a healthful lifestyle.
Rebbetzin Kigel began by sharing that “Being religious doesn’t mean only focusing on so-called “spiritual goals,” because it is a mitzvah to guard the health of your body. Being an observant Jew means guarding your health.”
We are guarding our health for a purpose: because Hashem wants us to do this. It is good for us, and it will make our lives better. Hashem wants us to be here as long as possible, and He wants us to have energy to do the mitzvos. We need to eat food that is fuel, and we need to exercise every day.
The Rambam taught that we should distance ourselves from things that harm the body. The Chofetz Chaim taught that the foods we eat are like an offering, as long as we eat in order to strengthen our body to serve Hashem. Rebbetzin Kigel taught that “Eating in a mindful way is Jewish.”
She added that this is not about being a size Two or Zero. Healthy means being fit by exercising and eating right.
Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch taught that we have a limited time here, and our body is not really ours but rather “Hashem gave us this precious possession…” Our body is on loan from Hashem so we can’t just do whatever we want with it. We are given a tremendous responsibility. Rav Hirsch considered it an act of murder to hurt your own body. He taught that we are obligated to avoid practices that endanger the body.
The Chazon Ish taught that when you eat healthfully, it is a way of serving Hashem.
Rebbetzin Kigel noted that working out with cardio exercises is literally the best therapy on planet Earth. “Give yourself time to work out at least three times a week, and make sure to move a bit each day.”
Do something you enjoy for exercise. She likes to do classes. Find something you like to do so you won’t have to force yourself to exercise.
Rav Wolbe taught that you have to eat properly and get enough sleep. He said to take care of your physical needs so that you can serve Hashem.
You should think to yourself that you are doing a mitzvah by taking care of your body. “You can’t do spiritual things if your body is not tended to.” Rebbetzin Kigel pointed out that food is a huge thing in Judaism. We have Thanksgiving twice a week and then there is Yom Tov. If you have a complicated relationship with food, this can be challenging. If you use food in a way that is not just as fuel, then you need to speak to someone so you can deal with this issue. The key is a healthy lifestyle, not a temporary diet. You need healthful habits for life.
She related that, as we age, our metabolism slows down. “Each decade, you have to modify to increase the amount of exercise you’re doing, and monitor the amount you’re eating.”
Mindful eating involves focusing on eating and not doing another activity at the same time. Saying a brachah before eating helps us be mindful. She taught that you should only eat when you are hungry and not for other reasons.
King Shlomo taught that the righteous eat to satisfy their soul. So, we are eating for an end: in order to live longer.
Chewing well is helpful for digestion and helps you slow down while eating. Don’t put your fork back in until you finish chewing.
She then spoke about sleep habits. The average woman needs seven to nine hours of sleep. Women need more sleep than men. You should try to go to bed earlier the next night, if you had to stay up late the night before. You can’t really catch up for a whole week on Shabbos.
Next, Rabbi Reuven Kigel shared exciting news about his new project to help Jewish men eat better. He shared that we learn in the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch (siman 157) the healthy way of eating, which also dovetails with cutting-edge science on nutrition.
He advertised for ten men to try to lose “10 pounds in 14 days” and 100 applied. The original group began in January with 75 participants, many of whom have lost over 30 pounds so far. One participant lost over 50 pounds. Some common refrains from the participants say they have higher energy, less brain fog, and transformed Shabbasos. Rabbi Kigel shared that “my goal is to help 100,000 Jewish men change their eating habits and eat according to the Code of Jewish Law.”
He pointed out that the American diet is set up for obesity and illness. There is emphasis on sugar and refined carbohydrates. The food pyramid that was promoted since the 1990s was contrived and is the opposite of what should be. The sugar lobby poisons everyone.
He then detailed some of his advice. Avoid eating early in the morning. Stick to two meals a day. Join his coaching groups for more detailed info. He said you have to remember you are not a food addict and you’re not a slave to rugelach! He noted that once you cut out sugar and most carbohydrates, you won’t crave it anymore.
He stressed that it’s important to cut out processed food as it is created to be addictive. Avoid foods with long lists of ingredients, as this means they are processed, and also avoid fake sugars, which are designed to make you hungry.
You have to read labels.
Also, he shared that you need a diet that is sustainable, and that’s exactly what this program provides.
To join, go to www.thefitJew.com.
By Susie Garber