Why Did the Rebbe Send The Yeshiva Schedule For Medical Review?



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    Why Did the Rebbe Send The Yeshiva Schedule For Medical Review?

    From the desk of Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, Director of Yeshiva Lubavitch – Cincinnati: I grew up in a non-religious home and community and fell in love with Yiddishkeit. I love the frum community, there is one thing that really bothers me about our educational system and our frum lifestyle in general: There seems to be a total disregard to health concerns. There are lots of staying up late, drinking, smoking, and overweight issues. Why is there such a lack of focus on concern? • Click to Read

    Question: Dear Rabbi, I’m going to apologize in advance for my “venting”, but this is something that is really bothering me. I grew up in a non-religious home and community and fell in love with Yiddishkeit and changed my whole outlook on life. I love the frum community and they have been so welcoming to me and my family. There is one thing that really bothers me about our educational system and our frum lifestyle in general: There seems to be a total disregard to health concerns. There are lots of staying up late, drinking, smoking, and overweight issues. Why is there such a lack of focus on concern?

    Answer: You do not need to apologize for your question, as you bring up a valid and important concern. Before I address what the Rebbe wrote about the specific health concerns that you mentioned, I would like to share a few letters that the Rebbe wrote to individuals and administrators about the importance of health in general. 

    The Rebbe often quotes the Rambam (Hilchos Deos 3:3 and 4:1): “Maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of serving Hashem, for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator, if he is ill. Therefore, he must avoid that which harms the body and accustom himself to that which is healthful and helps the body become stronger.”

    With this foundation, let’s learn a few letters of the Rebbe:

    “Have a Frum Doctor Review the Yeshiva Schedule”

    (1) Reb Shlomo Chaim Kessleman was the legendary Mashpia of the Tomchei T’mimim in Kfar Chabad, the central Lubavitcher yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel. He would often write reports of his work to the Rebbe. In 5715 (1955), he wrote a letter to the Rebbe in which he outlined the daily schedule of the Yeshiva. Upon receiving the letter, the Rebbe responded:

    “You write in your letter that the schedule begins at 6:30am until 9:30pm. The students then eat supper until 10:30pm.  This schedule does not concur with the health of the students for this schedule only allows 8 hours for Krias Shema, sleeping, brachos etc.”

    “It is well-known how much the Frierdiker Rebbe cared about the health of the Talmidim of Tomchei Temimim. This is especially true in our generation where the people are generally weaker than previous generations, especially in Eretz Yisroel. It would be proper to speak to a frum and G-d fearing Doctor who knows your situation, and work out a (more healthy) schedule.” (Igros, Vol.10 p. 86; #3047) 

    (2) In Yud-Shevat 5721 (1961), it was clear to the bochurim that something was bothering the Rebbe. The bochurim that came from Montreal, asked their beloved Mashpia, Rabbi Volf Greenglass to write a letter to the Rebbe and ask how they can make the Rebbe happy. 

    The Rebbe responded: “In regards to the talmidim of Tomchei Temimim in particular: being very careful that they come on time for the seder hayeshiva and adding in learning on their own time. They also should use the extra time to spread the wellsprings (of Torah and Chassidus) outside.” The Rebbe then added the following condition: “It is obvious and self-understood that one must do this without negatively affecting their health, as maintaining a healthy body  is among the ways of Hashem.” (Igros, Vol. 20 p. 161-162; #7586).

    “The Mother is Right!”

    (3) In 5719 (1959), an administrator of a school wrote a letter to the Rebbe. He enclosed in his letter a letter that he received from a mother (who was not so frum) complaining that since her son went to this religious school and has become more religious it has adversely affected his health.

    The Rebbe responded: “This part of the letter of the mother in which she writes that her son has started refraining from playing with his friends and participating in trips and excursions, she is correct. The body needs to be healthy in order to properly serve Hashem (Rambam). This is specially emphasized by the teaching of the Mezritcher Maggid that “A small hole in the body creates a big hole in the soul”. We keep seeing in the American youth that when changes are made to their body (physical health), it affects their nerves and anxiety.” (Igros, Vol. 18 p. 275; #6772).

    The Rebbe adds (paraphrased): “It is my opinion that if the mother will see that those that are in charge of the spiritual development of her son also improve his physical condition, it will impress her and she herself will add in her own observance of Torah and mitzvos.

    In regards to the specific health concerns that you mentioned, we will, with Hashem’s help, continue next week.

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    Why Did the Rebbe Send The Yeshiva Schedule For Medical Review?



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