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Vaeschanan -- Looking After the Body

Vaeschanan -- Looking After the Body

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Published by DanielALevine
During the holiday and vacation period, one of the most frequently quoted pesukim is a verse in our Parashah: “Guard yourselves very carefully.” However, aside from the timely vacation issues, there are several common questions that relate to the issue of guarding one’s health: is it permitted to perform plastic surgery? May one go on a “heavy” diet? This week’s article deals with the obligation to avoid physical damage and injury, including various contemporary matters whose halachic status emerges from a discussion of the sources. by Harav Yosef Fleischman
During the holiday and vacation period, one of the most frequently quoted pesukim is a verse in our Parashah: “Guard yourselves very carefully.” However, aside from the timely vacation issues, there are several common questions that relate to the issue of guarding one’s health: is it permitted to perform plastic surgery? May one go on a “heavy” diet? This week’s article deals with the obligation to avoid physical damage and injury, including various contemporary matters whose halachic status emerges from a discussion of the sources. by Harav Yosef Fleischman

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: DanielALevine on Jul 28, 2010
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07/28/2010

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original

 
Preserving
 
the
 
Body
 
Guard
 
yourselves
 
very
 
carefully…
 
(Devarim
 
4:15)
 
In
 
its
 
true
 
context,
 
the
 
words
 
quoted
 
above
 
form
 
part
 
of 
 
the
 
Torah's
 
warning
 
concerning
 
idolatry:
 
we
 
are
 
warned
 
lest
 
we
 
make
 
an
 
image
 
of 
 
any
 
form
 
or
 
likeness.
 
The
 
full
 
verse
 
reads
 
as
 
follows:
 
"But
 
you
 
shall
 
greatly
 
beware
 
for
 
your
 
souls,
 
for
 
you
 
did
 
not
 
see
 
any
 
likeness
 
on
 
the
 
day
 
Hashem
 
spoke
 
to
 
you
 
at
 
Horeb,
 
from
 
the
 
midst
 
of 
 
the
 
fire,
 
lest
 
you
 
act
 
corruptly
 
and
 
make
 
yourselves
 
a
 
carved
 
image
 
…"
 
Nonetheless,
 
the
 
verse
 
is
 
often
 
quoted
 
in
 
everyday
 
speech
 
as
 
a
 
warning
 
to
 
give
 
our
 
physical
 
bodies
 
due
 
consideration,
 
urging
 
us
 
to
 
keep
 
the
 
body
 
from
 
all
 
damage
 
and
 
to
 
sustain
 
its
 
healthy
 
condition
 
as
 
best
 
we
 
can.
 
The
 
source
 
for
 
this
 
surprising
 
reading
 
of 
 
the
 
verse
 
is
 
a
 
passage
 
of 
 
the
 
Gemara
 
(
Berachos
 
32b),
 
which
 
teaches
 
as
 
follows:
 
A
 
pious
 
man
 
was
 
once
 
praying
 
on
 
the
 
road.
 
A
 
minister
 
approached
 
him
 
and
 
greeted
 
him,
 
yet
 
the
 
pious
 
man
 
did
 
not
 
respond.
 
The
 
minister
 
waited
 
until
 
he
 
had
 
finished
 
praying,
 
and
 
then
 
said
 
to
 
him:
 
"Empty
 
one!
 
Is
 
it
 
not
 
written
 
in
 
your
 
Torah:
 
'Take
 
heed
 
and
 
watch
 
yourself 
 
carefully
 
(Devarim
 
4:9),
 
and
 
'Guard
 
yourselves
 
very
 
carefully'
 
(Devarim
 
4:15)?'
 
When
 
I
 
greeted
 
you,
 
why
 
didn't
 
you
 
answer?
 
If 
 
I
 
had
 
cut
 
off 
 
your
 
head
 
with
 
my
 
sword,
 
who
 
would
 
have
 
sought
 
vengeance
 
for
 
your
 
life?"
 
The
 
Gemara
 
records
 
the
 
response
 
of 
 
the
 
pious
 
man,
 
who
 
compared
 
the
 
act
 
of 
 
prayer
 
before
 
Hashem
 
to
 
somebody
 
who
 
stands
 
in
 
front
 
of 
 
an
 
earthly
 
king.
 
The
 
minister
 
readily
 
agreed
 
that
 
while
 
addressing
 
an
 
earthly
 
king,
 
one
 
must
 
not
 
interrupt
 
the
 
conversation
 
for
 
the
 
sake
 
of 
 
responding
 
to
 
another's
 
greeting.
 
"If 
 
this
 
is
 
true",
 
continued
 
the
 
pious
 
man,
 
"it
 
is
 
all
 
the
 
more
 
forbidden
 
to
 
interrupt
 
one's
 
prayer
 
before
 
the
 
King
 
of 
 
Kings!"
 
The
 
Gemara
 
concludes
 
that
 
the
 
minister
 
was
 
appeased
 
immediately,
 
and
 
the
 
pious
 
person
 
returned
 
home
 
in
 
peace.
 
Parshas
 
Va'eschanan
 
5770
19
During the holiday and vacation period, one of the most frequently quoted pesukim is a verse in our Parashah:"Guard yourselves very carefully." However, aside from the timely vacation issues, there are several commonquestions that relate to the issue of guarding one's health: is it permitted to perform plastic surgery? May one go ona "heavy" diet? This week's article deals with the obligation to avoid physical damage and injury, including variouscontemporary matters whose halachic status emerges from a discussion of the sources.
 
 
The
 
source
 
for
 
using
 
the
 
verse
 
as
 
an
 
instruction
 
to
 
be
 
wary
 
for
 
one's
 
physical
 
wellbeing
 
is
 
thus
 
the
 
application
 
of 
 
the
 
non
Jewish
 
minister.
 
Nonetheless,
 
it
 
has
 
become
 
common
 
usage,
 
both
 
among
 
the
 
lay
 
and
 
in
 
halachic
 
parlance
 
(see,
 
for
 
instance,
 
Kesav 
 
Sofer 
,
 
Even
 
Ha'ezer 
 
19)
 
Indeed,
 
the
 
 pasuk 
 
is
 
quoted
 
in
 
Kitzur 
 
Shulchan
 
 Aruch
 
(32:1)
 
as
 
a
 
source
 
for
 
the
 
obligation
 
to
 
aspire
 
for
 
good
 
health:
 
"Because
 
possessing
 
a
 
healthy
 
body
 
is
 
among
 
the
 
ways
 
of 
 
Hashem,
 
for
 
a
 
sick
 
man
 
cannot
 
know
 
or
 
comprehend
 
anything
 
of 
 
Divine
 
knowledge,
 
therefore
 
a
 
person
 
must
 
distance
 
himself 
 
from
 
things
 
that
 
damage
 
the
 
body,
 
and
 
to
 
cling
 
to
 
ways
 
that
 
heal
 
and
 
maintain
 
the
 
body.
 
Of 
 
this
 
the
 
verse
 
states,
 
'Guard
 
yourselves
 
very
 
carefully.'"
 
The
 
obligation
 
as
 
based
 
on
 
the
 
 pasuk 
 
is
 
also
 
mentioned
 
in
 
Pri 
 
Megadim
 
(
Orach
 
Chaim
 
328:6).
 
The
 
Prohibition
 
of 
 
Injuring
 
Oneself 
 
Although
 
we
 
have
 
mentioned
 
the
 
verse
 
in
 
our
 
 parashah
 
as
 
a
 
possible
 
source
 
for
 
the
 
prohibition
 
of 
 
causing
 
bodily
 
harm
 
to
 
oneself,
 
it
 
must
 
be
 
noted
 
that
 
the
 
great
 
majority
 
of 
 
 poskim
 
do
 
not
 
quote
 
the
 
verse
 
as
 
a
 
source
 
for
 
the
 
obligation
 
to
 
maintain
 
good
 
physical
 
health—though
 
it
 
is
 
mentioned
 
by
 
a
 
small
 
number
 
of 
 
authorities
 
(see
 
Rashbash
 
1;
 
Chavas
 
Yair 
 
163;
 
Chasam
 
Sofer 
,
 
Yoreh
 
De'ah
 
241;
 
see
 
also
 
Tosefos
,
 
Shevuos
 
36a).
 
Barring
 
the
 
obligation
 
based
 
on
 
the
 
verse,
 
what
 
(if 
 
any)
 
is
 
the
 
source
 
for
 
this
 
commonly
 
quoted
 
obligation?
 
The
 
Gemara
 
in
 
Bava
 
Kama
 
(91b)
 
cites
 
a
 
dispute
 
between
 
the
 
Mishnah
 
and
 
a
 
Beraisa
 
with
 
regard
 
to
 
whether
 
or
 
not
 
it
 
is
 
permitted
 
for
 
a
 
person
 
to
 
cause
 
himself 
 
bodily
 
harm.
 
The
 
Mishnah
 
(
Bava
 
Kama
 
90b),
 
quoting
 
the
 
opinion
 
of 
 
Rabbi
 
Akiva,
 
states
 
that
 
it
 
is
 
forbidden
 
for
 
one
 
to
 
injure
 
oneself;
 
the
 
Beraisa,
 
however,
 
also
 
quoting
 
Rabbi
 
Akiva,
 
states
 
that
 
it
 
is
 
permitted
 
for
 
a
 
person
 
to
 
harm
 
himself 
 
physically.
 
It
 
is
 
noteworthy
 
that
 
the
 
case
 
mentioned
 
by
 
the
 
Mishnah
 
implies
 
that
 
even
 
a
 
monetary
 
need
 
does
 
not
 
permit
 
one
 
to
 
cause
 
oneself 
 
bodily
 
harm.
 
The
 
Mishnah
 
tells
 
the
 
tale
 
of 
 
a
 
certain
 
man
 
who
 
uncovered
 
a
 
woman's
 
hair
 
in
 
the
 
marketplace,
 
thereby
 
causing
 
her
 
shame
 
(which
 
is
 
equivalent
 
to
 
bodily
 
harm).
 
Rabbi
 
Akiva
 
found
 
him
 
liable
 
to
 
pay
 
four
 
hundred
 
Zuz
 
as
 
compensation
 
for
 
the
 
shame
 
he
 
inflicted
 
on
 
the
 
woman.
 
The
 
man,
 
who
 
was
 
none
 
too
 
pleased
 
with
 
the
 
decision,
 
connived
 
to
 
show
 
that
 
he
 
should
 
be
 
exempt
 
from
 
penalty,
 
for
 
the
 
woman
 
did
 
not
 
care
 
about
 
her
 
own
 
shame.
 
This
 
he
 
did
 
by
 
breaking
 
a
 
 jug
 
of 
 
oil
 
in
 
the
 
market
 
in
 
front
 
of 
 
the
 
woman,
 
at
 
which
 
the
 
woman
 
revealed
 
her
 
hair
 
and
 
began
 
to
 
gather
 
the
 
spilling
 
oil
 
and
 
applying
 
it
 
to
 
her
 
uncovered
 
hair.
 
The
 
man
 
brought
 
his
 
proof 
 
before
 
Rabbi
 
Akiva,
 
stating:
 
"To
 
this
 
woman
 
I
 
should
 
pay
 
four
 
hundred
 
Zuz?"
 
Rabbi
 
Akiva,
 
however,
 
was
 
not
 
impressed:
 
"One
 
who
 
injures
 
himself,
 
even
 
though
 
it
 
is
 
prohibited,
 
is
 
exempt.
 
If 
 
another
 
injures
 
him
 
he
 
is
 
liable."
 
As
 
mentioned,
 
the
 
Gemara
 
writes
 
that
 
the
 
question
 
of 
 
injuring
 
oneself 
 
is
 
disputed
 
between
 
two
 
Tanaic
 
sources—both
 
quoting
 
from
 
Rabbi
 
Akiva.
 
Rambam,
 
followed
 
by
 
Shulchan
 
 Aruch
 
and
 
other
 
 poskim
,
 
rule
 
in
 
accordance
 
with
 
the
 
Mishnah:
 
one
 
may
 
not
 
injure
 
oneself.
 
As
 
Tosefos
 
point
 
out
 
(91b,
 
s.v.
 
elah
)—and
 
as
 
implied
 
by
 
the
 
Mishnah—this
 
prohibition
 
applies
 
even
 
for
 
a
 
need,
 
such
 
as
 
the
 
financial
 
need
 
of 
 
the
 
Mishnah.
 
The
 
Opinion
 
of 
 
Rav
 
Chisda
 
An
 
additional
 
source
 
poses
 
something
 
of 
 
a
 
contradiction
 
to
 
the
 
above
 
conclusion.
 
The
 
Gemara
 
(
loc.
 
cit.
)
 
quotes
 
from
 
Rav
 
Chisda,
 
who
 
used
 
to
 
pull
 
up
 
his
 
cloak
 
while
 
he
 
walked
 
in
 
a
 
field
 
of 
 
thorns.
 
Although
 
his
 
legs
 
were
 
scratched
 
as
 
a
 
result,
 
Rav
 
Chisda
 
deemed
 
it
 
worthwhile
 
to
 
save
 
his
 
cloak
 
from
 
tearing
 
at
 
the
 
expense
 
of 
 
scratching
 
his
 
legs.
 
"These,"
 
he
 
adjoined,
 
"will
 
heal,
 
but
 
this
 
will
 
not
 
heal."
 
 
This
 
statement
 
implies
 
that
 
it
 
is
 
permitted
 
to
 
inflict
 
physical
 
harm
 
on
 
oneself 
 
for
 
the
 
sake
 
of 
 
avoiding
 
monetary
 
harm—a
 
ruling
 
that
 
would
 
appear
 
to
 
contradict
 
the
 
above
 
ruling
 
prohibiting
 
self 
injury
 
even
 
for
 
the
 
sake
 
of 
 
monetary
 
gain.
 
Indeed,
 
we
 
find
 
that
 
Rama
 
(quoted
 
in
 
Shita
 
Mekubetzes
,
 
Bava
 
Kama
 
91b,
 
and
 
in
 
Tur 
,
 
Choshen
 
Mishpat 
 
420)
 
rules
 
(based
 
on
 
the
 
Gemara)
 
that
 
it
 
is
 
permitted
 
for
 
a
 
person
 
to
 
cause
 
himself 
 
injury.
 
As
 
Yam
 
Shel 
 
Shlomo
 
(
Bava
 
Kama
)
 
writes,
 
this
 
ruling
 
would
 
only
 
apply
 
when
 
there
 
is
 
a
 
need,
 
but
 
not
 
when
 
there
 
is
 
no
 
benefit
 
gained
 
by
 
the
 
injury.
 
Yet,
 
another
 
source
 
suggests
 
that
 
Rav
 
Chisda
 
had
 
a
 
unique
 
opinion
 
with
 
regard
 
to
 
the
 
question
 
of 
 
causing
 
oneself 
 
bodily
 
harm.
 
In
 
Maseches
 
Shabbos
 
(140b)
 
we
 
find
 
Rav
 
Chisda
 
stating
 
that
 
one
 
who
 
is
 
able
 
to
 
eat
 
barley
 
(cheap)
 
bread,
 
yet
 
eats
 
wheat
 
(expensive)
 
bread,
 
transgresses
 
the
 
prohibition
 
of 
 
bal 
 
tashchis
 
(his
 
eating
 
an
 
expensive
 
food
 
is
 
considered
 
an
 
act
 
of 
 
wastefulness).
 
The
 
Gemara,
 
however,
 
states
 
that
 
the
 
ruling
 
of 
 
Rav
 
Chisda
 
is
 
incorrect,
 
because
 
"
bal 
 
tashchis
 
of 
 
the
 
body
 
takes
 
preference."
 
Wheat
 
bread
 
is
 
healthier
 
than
 
barley
 
bread,
 
and
 
its
 
consumption
 
in
 
place
 
of 
 
barley
 
bread
 
is
 
therefore
 
not
 
considered
 
wastefulness:
 
it
 
is
 
more
 
important
 
to
 
avoid
 
"wasting"
 
one's
 
body
 
than
 
"wasting"
 
food.
 
Rav
 
Chisda,
 
it
 
would
 
appear,
 
maintained
 
that
 
it
 
is
 
permitted
 
to
 
"waste"
 
one's
 
body
 
in
 
order
 
to
 
prevent
 
the
 
waste
 
of 
 
something
 
else.
 
This
 
explains
 
both
 
the
 
ruling
 
concerning
 
rolling
 
up
 
one's
 
cloak
 
at
 
the
 
expense
 
of 
 
scratching
 
one's
 
legs,
 
and
 
the
 
ruling
 
prohibiting
 
eating
 
a
 
healthier,
 
yet
 
more
 
expensive
 
food
 
(this
 
idea
 
is
 
found
 
in
 
the
 
commentary
 
of 
 
Rav
 
Yehudah
 
Perlow
 
to
 
Rasag
,
 
47
48).
 
The
 
halachah
,
 
however,
 
does
 
not
 
follow
 
the
 
opinion
 
of 
 
Rav
 
Chisda:
 
it
 
would
 
be
 
prohibited
 
to
 
damage
 
one's
 
body
 
for
 
the
 
sake
 
of 
 
preserving
 
one's
 
clothing,
 
and
 
permitted
 
to
 
eat
 
healthy
 
yet
 
expensive
 
food.
 
Making
 
Use
 
of 
 
the
 
Body
 
We
 
will
 
be
 
able
 
to
 
deepen
 
our
 
understanding
 
of 
 
the
 
issues
 
mentioned
 
above
 
by
 
introducing
 
the
 
rationale
 
behind
 
the
 
prohibition
 
of 
 
injuring
 
oneself.
 
Why
 
is
 
this
 
act
 
prohibited?
 
With
 
regard
 
to
 
the
 
halachah
 
whereby
 
a
 
person
 
is
 
not
 
believed
 
with
 
regard
 
to
 
his
 
being
 
liable
 
to
 
corporal
 
punishment,
 
Radvaz
 
(commentary
 
on
 
Rambam,
 
Hilchos
 
Sanhedrin
 
18:6)
 
explains
 
that
 
a
 
person's
 
body
 
is
 
not
 
his
 
own
 
property,
 
but
 
the
 
property
 
of 
 
Hashem.
 
Concerning
 
the
 
prohibition
 
of 
 
injuring
 
oneself,
 
Shulchan
 
 Aruch
 
HaRav 
 
(
Nizkei 
 
Guf 
 
Venefesh
 
4)
 
uses
 
the
 
same
 
rationale:
 
"A
 
person
 
does
 
not
 
have
 
 jurisdiction
 
over
 
his
 
body
 
to
 
injure
 
or
 
shame
 
it,
 
or
 
to
 
cause
 
it
 
any
 
pain,
 
even
 
by
 
refraining
 
from
 
eating
 
and
 
drinking."
 
According
 
to
 
this
 
rationale,
 
it
 
would
 
follow
 
that
 
a
 
person's
 
need
 
or
 
desire
 
would
 
not
 
suffice
 
to
 
permit
 
injuring
 
oneself.
 
The
 
body
 
is
 
not
 
a
 
person's
 
property,
 
and
 
one
 
has
 
no
 
right
 
to
 
damage
 
it.
 
However,
 
the
 
wording
 
of 
 
the
 
Gemara
 
in
 
Shabbos
 
(140b,
 
as
 
quoted
 
above)
 
implies
 
that
 
the
 
prohibition
 
of 
 
damaging
 
the
 
body
 
is
 
a
 
concern
 
of 
 
bal 
 
tashchis
,
 
a
 
question
 
of 
 
being
 
wasteful.
 
This
 
is
 
not
 
necessarily
 
in
 
contradiction
 
with
 
the
 
above
 
rationale
 
of 
 
the
 
body
 
not
 
being
 
ours.
 
The
 
body
 
is
 
not
 
ours,
 
yet
 
Hashem
 
has
 
given
 
it
 
over
 
to
 
us
 
for
 
use
 
in
 
achieving
 
human
 
purposes.
 
Under
 
certain
 
circumstances,
 
it
 
might
 
be
 
permitted
 
to
 
make
 
use
 
of 
 
the
 
body
 
even
 
when
 
this
 
would
 
imply
 
a
 
degree
 
of 
 
injury.
 
Thus,
 
although
 
Shulchan
 
 Aruch
 
HaRav 
 
states
 
that
 
the
 
body
 
is
 
not
 
ours
 
to
 
damage,
 
he
 
continues
 
that
 
it
 
is
 
permitted
 
to
 
refrain
 
from
 
eating
 
and
 
drinking,
 
thereby
 
causing
 
physical
 
discomfort,
 
for
 
the
 
sake
 
of 
 
repentance:
 
"This
 
pain
 
is
 
good
 
for
 
the
 
person,
 
saving
 
his
 
soul
 
and
 
it
 
is
 
therefore
 
permitted
 
to
 
fast
 
for
 
the
 
purpose
 
of 
 
repentance
 
 
and
 
even
 
for
 
the
 
purpose
 
of 
 
training
 
the
 
spirit
 
for
 
Hashem,
 
for
 
there
 
is
 
no
 
good
 
greater
 
than
 
this
 
…"
 
Bal
 
Tashchis
 
of 
 
the
 
Body
 

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