Shmirat Ha-Guf - Protecting the Body (Self-Care)
1 א

Making a Mensch Part 2 - last week we talked about friendship, and how to respect others. Today we will examine the idea that it is difficult to form meaningful relationships without first respecting yourself. Shmirat Ha-Guf, the idea that it is a mitzvah to care for our bodies, and by extension, our minds and spirits, draws from the idea that we are each created in G-d's image.

2 ב

(כז) וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

(27) And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

3 ג

1. What do you think it means to be created in the image of God?

2. Does anything jump out as strange or surprising about this text?

4 ד

“He who does good to his own person is a pious man” (Proverbs, 11:17). "Such a one was Hillel the Elder. After taking leave of his disciples, he proceeded to walk along with them. His disciples asked him, ‘Master, where are you going?’

He answered, ‘To perform a Mitzvah.’

‘What Mitzvah?’ They asked.

‘To bathe in the bathhouse.’ He replied.

‘But is this a Mitzvah??’ His students asked, confused.

‘It is indeed. Kings’ statues are scoured and washed down by the official specially appointed to look after them, who receives a salary for the work. More-he is esteemed as one of the notables of the empire. How much more and more am I required to scour and wash myself, who have been created in God’s image and likeness, as it is written, ‘In the image of God made He man’ (Genesis 9:6).” (Vayikrah Rabbah, 34:3)

5 ה
(כח) וְשֶׂרֶט לָנֶפֶשׁ לֹא תִתְּנוּ בִּבְשַׂרְכֶם וּכְתֹבֶת קַעֲקַע לֹא תִתְּנוּ בָּכֶם אֲנִי יְהוָה.

(28) You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh, nor imprint any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

6 ו

This verse is found among a laundry list of ways in which the Jewish people are instructed to keep themselves holy, most of which focus on ethical treatment of other people, including poor, slaves, strangers, neighbors, and even animals and trees. What does this negative commandment have to do with being holy?

7 ז
(ו) שֹׁפֵךְ֙ דַּ֣ם הָֽאָדָ֔ם בָּֽאָדָ֖ם דָּמ֣וֹ יִשָּׁפֵ֑ךְ כִּ֚י בְּצֶ֣לֶם אֱלֹהִ֔ים עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הָאָדָֽם׃ (ז) וְאַתֶּ֖ם פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֑וּ שִׁרְצ֥וּ בָאָ֖רֶץ וּרְבוּ־בָֽהּ׃

(6) Whoever sheds human blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God He made man. (7) And you, be fruitful, and multiply; swarm in the earth, and multiply therein.

8 ח

"Be fruitful and multiply" is considered the very first commandment (mitzvah) given in the Torah. Do you think it is linked in any way to the words in verse 6?


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה
וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים.

גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֹדֶךָ
שֶׁאִם יִפָּתֵחַ אֶחָד מֵהֶם אוֹ יִסָּתֵם אֶחָד מֵהֶם
אִי אֶפְשַׁר לְהִתְקַיֵּם וְלַעֲמוֹד לְפָנֶיךָ.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה רוֹפֵא כָל בָּשָׂר
וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשֹוֹת.

Blessed are You, God, our God, sovereign of the universe, who formed humans with wisdom and created within him openings openings and cavities cavities.
It is obvious in the presence of your glorious throne that if one of them were ruptured, or if one of them were blocked, it would be impossible to exist and stand in your presence.
Blessed are You, God, who heals all flesh and performs wonders.

10 י

This prayer (Asher Yatzar) is traditionally recited after going to the bathroom. How do you think that the last line relates to the prayer?

11 יא

(א) לא יטעום אדם כלום עד שיברך שנאמר (תהילים כד) לה' הארץ ומלואה הנהנה מן העולם הזה בלא ברכה מעל עד שיתירו לו כל המצות...

(1) A person should not taste anything until he makes a Bracha (blessing) on it, as it is said, “To Hashem is the Earth and its fullness…” (Psalms 24:1). One who receives pleasure from this world without a Bracha makes inappropriate use of sacred property...

12 יב

1. What do you think "sacred property" refers to in this text?

13 יג
(יג) וַיְהִי מִמָּחֳרָת וַיֵּשֶׁב מֹשֶׁה לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת הָעָם וַיַּעֲמֹד הָעָם עַל מֹשֶׁה מִן הַבֹּקֶר עַד הָעָרֶב. (יד) וַיַּרְא חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר הוּא עֹשֶׂה לָעָם וַיֹּאמֶר מָה הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה לָעָם מַדּוּעַ אַתָּה יוֹשֵׁב לְבַדֶּךָ וְכָל הָעָם נִצָּב עָלֶיךָ מִן בֹּקֶר עַד עָרֶב. (טו) וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לְחֹתְנוֹ כִּי יָבֹא אֵלַי הָעָם לִדְרֹשׁ אֱלֹהִים. (טז) כִּי יִהְיֶה לָהֶם דָּבָר בָּא אֵלַי וְשָׁפַטְתִּי בֵּין אִישׁ וּבֵין רֵעֵהוּ וְהוֹדַעְתִּי אֶת חֻקֵּי הָאֱלֹהִים וְאֶת תּוֹרֹתָיו. (יז) וַיֹּאמֶר חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֵלָיו לֹא טוֹב הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה. (יח) נָבֹל תִּבֹּל גַּם אַתָּה גַּם הָעָם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר עִמָּךְ כִּי כָבֵד מִמְּךָ הַדָּבָר לֹא תוּכַל עֲשֹׂהוּ לְבַדֶּךָ. (יט) עַתָּה שְׁמַע בְּקֹלִי אִיעָצְךָ וִיהִי אֱלֹהִים עִמָּךְ הֱיֵה אַתָּה לָעָם מוּל הָאֱלֹהִים וְהֵבֵאתָ אַתָּה אֶת הַדְּבָרִים אֶל הָאֱלֹהִים. (כ) וְהִזְהַרְתָּה אֶתְהֶם אֶת הַחֻקִּים וְאֶת הַתּוֹרֹת וְהוֹדַעְתָּ לָהֶם אֶת הַדֶּרֶךְ יֵלְכוּ בָהּ וְאֶת הַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשׂוּן. (כא) וְאַתָּה תֶחֱזֶה מִכָּל הָעָם אַנְשֵׁי חַיִל יִרְאֵי אֱלֹהִים אַנְשֵׁי אֱמֶת שֹׂנְאֵי בָצַע וְשַׂמְתָּ עֲלֵהֶם שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים שָׂרֵי מֵאוֹת שָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים וְשָׂרֵי עֲשָׂרֹת. (כב) וְשָׁפְטוּ אֶת הָעָם בְּכָל עֵת וְהָיָה כָּל הַדָּבָר הַגָּדֹל יָבִיאוּ אֵלֶיךָ וְכָל הַדָּבָר הַקָּטֹן יִשְׁפְּטוּ הֵם וְהָקֵל מֵעָלֶיךָ וְנָשְׂאוּ אִתָּךְ. (כג) אִם אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה תַּעֲשֶׂה וְצִוְּךָ אֱלֹהִים וְיָכָלְתָּ עֲמֹד וְגַם כָּל הָעָם הַזֶּה עַל מְקֹמוֹ יָבֹא בְשָׁלוֹם. (כד) וַיִּשְׁמַע מֹשֶׁה לְקוֹל חֹתְנוֹ וַיַּעַשׂ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אָמָר.

(13) And it came to pass the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening. (14) And when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said: ‘What is this thing that you do to the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?’ (15) And Moses said unto his father-in-law: ‘Because the people come unto me to inquire of God; (16) when they have a matter, it comes unto me; and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and His laws.’ (17) And Moses’ father-in-law said unto him: ‘This thing that you are doing is not good. (18) You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you; for the thing is too heavy for you; you art not able to perform it yourself alone. (19) Listen now unto my voice, I will give you advice, and God be with you: be thou for the people before God, and bring thou the causes unto God. (20) And thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. (21) Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. (22) And let them judge the people at all seasons; and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge themselves; so shall they make it easier for thee and bear the burden with thee. (23) If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace.’ (24) So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.

14 יד

(ה) רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנוֹ אוֹמֵר, הַלּוֹמֵד תּוֹרָה עַל מְנָת לְלַמֵּד, מַסְפִּיקִין בְּיָדוֹ לִלְמֹד וּלְלַמֵּד. וְהַלּוֹמֵד עַל מְנָת לַעֲשׂוֹת, מַסְפִּיקִין בְּיָדוֹ לִלְמֹד וּלְלַמֵּד לִשְׁמֹר וְלַעֲשׂוֹת. רַבִּי צָדוֹק אוֹמֵר, אַל תַּעֲשֵׂם עֲטָרָה לְהִתְגַּדֵּל בָּהֶם, וְלֹא קַרְדֹּם לַחְפֹּר בָּהֶם. וְכָךְ הָיָה הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר, וּדְאִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּתָגָא, חָלָף. הָא לָמַדְתָּ, כָּל הַנֶּהֱנֶה מִדִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה, נוֹטֵל חַיָּיו מִן הָעוֹלָם:

(5) Rabbi Yishmael his son says: One who studies Torah in order to teach will be given the opportunity both to study and to teach. One who studies in order to practice will be given the opportunity to study, to teach, to observe, and to practice. Rabbi Tzadok says: Do not make it [the Torah] into a crown with which to aggrandize yourself, and not into a spade with which to dig into them. And thus Hillel used to say: And one who makes use of the crown [of learning] passes away. From here you learn that any one who benefits from the words of the Torah removes his life from the world.