Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Attention Rabbis: Please ban corn syrup and red meat

Does it make any sense to you that the typical OJ Rabbi will tell you to avoid the mall, but won't say a word about unhealthy foods? I'm not suggesting that our Rabbis start speaking exclusively about the dangers of red meat and corn syrup - certainly, its right and proper for Rabbis to warn about invisible, or if you prefer, spiritual dangers - but couldn't some practical advice be occasionally mixed in with the inveighing against inappropriate music and hemlines?

These thoughts occurred to me last shabbos, as I sat at a shul kiddush with a mouthful of cholent meat, and a glass of soda in my hand. Look at me, I thought. Here I am doing something inarguably damaging to my health. The meat in my mouth gleams with fat, the soda is packed with sugar and carbohydrates, and all the peer group signals tell me to continue shoving these things down my throat. Why must it be like that? We have a Rabbi who exhorts us weekly to choose life, to learn more, to daven more fervently, and to take extra steps to avoid evil influences. Yet, there he sits, his own plate piled high with cake and red meat. Does this make any sense? Can you explain why the Rabbi uses his considerable influence to get women to wear longer hemlines, but does nothing to benefit our waistlines? All he'd have to do is ban soda from the shul, the way he's already banned various books and events, and urge us to serve meatless cholent as he already urges us to serve cholov yisroel.  Small steps, but think of the difference it would make to our health. Think of the example it would set, and the message it would send. Think of how robust Orthodox Jews would be if we worried about out health in the way we worry about mitzvah points and segulot, if we ran from corn syrup the way we run from pork. But we don't. So, instead of robust, we're roly-poly, the stoutest of all men, the roundest of all nations, the pastiest people. It could be otherwise.

Search for more information about the misguided priorities of Judaism at 4torah.com.

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