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Guard your Soul: Va’etchanan

Guard your Soul – Va’etchanah

We have been commanded to “guard your soul” [1]. This is the positive commandment to look after our bodies.
Our body of course houses our soul, and a healthy soul might even depend upon a healthy body, but nevertheless being that the commandment is to practically look after our physical health, why are we not explicitly commanded to look after our ‘body’ rather than our “soul”?

In 1926, the revered Chafetz Chaim was asked to speak at a meeting regarding the building of a certain hospital. Several wealthy men were present who gave honourable donations and the Chafetz Chaim praised them accordingly.

During the meeting,some yeshiva students appeared wishing to see the Chafetz Chaim. He welcomed them in and seated them at the head table. This caused some raised eyebrows and one of the wealthy men became irritated and asked outright “And how many beds in the hospital are these students donating?”
Without hesitating the Chafetz Chaim responded “they are each donating fifty beds!”
“Fifty beds?” the wealthy man gaped incredulously. “How is that possible? We are all wealthy men and none of us are donating more than ten. And you mean to tell me that these students are each donating fifty beds?”
“Yes” replied the Chafetz Chaim. “Each is giving the hospital fifty beds that do not exist: It is their Torah study that protects the townspeople from illness, and these young men are studying Torah, thus ensuring that there will be fewer sick people in town. They are reducing the number of hospital beds needed by fifty a piece!”

Of course we must also make our physical efforts, but a person who “guards his soul” is indeed guarding his body in the best possible manner.

Have a healthy Shabbos,

Dan.

Additional sources:
Story: Glimpses of Greatness, p. 140
[1] Devarim 4:9, 15