Friday, March 16, 2018

Great evening. Songs about goats #strange...

If Trump live tweets the Seder …

Donald Trump's sure to get an invitation to Kushner's Seder night.

Trump at the seder: #eatcementlosers
 Invited to Ivanka and Jared’s for Seder dinner. I’m all set to go. #happypassover

The failed New York Times says Passover starts today. FAKE NEWS #sad

 Just called Jared. It seems it actually is Passover today. #let'smakepassovergreat

Very excited and honored to be leading the Seder service tonight. It’s going to be a TERRIFIC evening, the BEST SEDER ever!

 Jared says I’m not quite Jewish enough to lead the service. He'll do a FANTASTIC job!

 Jews celebrate freedom from slavery. We all celebrate freedom from Obama!

 So the Egyptians made the Israelites build massive pyramids. AND the Jews had to pay for them. Smart work, pharoah!

Seems pharoah is bad guy. Horrible. Never liked him.

Service underway. It seems quite complicated and long. Someone pour me a large Scotch.

 You can’t even have ONE GLASS OF SINGLE MALT?!? #sad

 Jared serving Bread of Affliction. It's gonna be delicious.

We're eating some kind of big cracker with no flavor! #fakebread #passthejelly

 Big immigrant population don’t wanna work hard to make Egypt great again #sad

OK BIG NEWS. Serious pressure on Egypt to let the people go.

 Pharoah dithering. Cut a deal! Losing patience with Egypt here.

 Moses using alternative facts to play with the heads of the Egyptians. THERE ARE TEN PLAGUES

 Lucky Egyptians weren’t on Obamacare — they’d be sick and poor (if first born, dead and poor) #fail

I’m warming to this idea bigly. WATCH OUT KIM JONG UN #tenplaguesforKorea #boils #frogs #riversofblood

 Israelites migrating. Fortunately for them they are not headed for #USA. They still have to get over the Red Sea #badidea

 OK so the Red Sea has parted. LET’S BUILD THAT WALL FOLKS

Egyptian military total fail #drowned. Big lesson for NATO here

 We’re singing a song called Dayenu. It means we’ve had enough. Just like the American people have had enough of FAKE NEWS

Correction, it means ‘it would have been enough’. So had POTUS just got rid of evil Hillary, it would have been enough #dayenu

Had POTUS saved America from Muslims carrying bombs, it would have been enough #dayenu

 Had POTUS simply built the wall, it would have been enough #dayenu

Gonna have a word with Sean Spicer. #dayenu is going to be our next press conference

 Everyone is saying “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Let’s get that embassy built there.

 Next year in Scotland! Terrific country. The Scottish people love me so much #Let’sPlayGolf. #singlemalt

 Prayer books have been put away. Four glasses of wine drunk. Now the feast. Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends — even the Democrats

 Is Hillary Jewish? #alternativefacts

 They just brought an egg. And they poured salty water all over it. Someone get me a Chinese takeout — and let’s make the Chinese pay for it

 OK there’s a crisis developing. Afi Koman has gone missing. Let’s get together and start searching for him.

 I seem to remember that Afi was Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister. Terrific guy. I hope his family are doing well and staying strong

 FAKE NEWS! Turns out Afi wasn’t the foreign minister, but a piece of matzah they hid. I led the search . Made sure Ivanka found it

 Everyone says we need to let in a guy called Elijah in. Has Elijah got a #greencard? Is he #muslim???

  They are putting wine in a glass for this guy. AND THEY ARE LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN #verysad

 We owe a debt to all of our immigrants but this is not the way we do business here anymore. No one gets a free pass. LET’S PUT AMERICA 1st!

 OK, Elijah is a dead prophet who comes back for a glass of wine. Who can blame him?

  Winding up. Great evening. Songs about goats #strange

  Looking forward to corned beef on rye at Trump Tower #signaturedish — hold the elevator!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Age of the Imbecile --- The World is Turning Catastrophically Stupid. Here’s How Not to Join It.

I’d bet, these days, shortly after reading the headlines, you’ve thought, shaking your head and muttering, something like: “OMG. We live in an age of impossibly catastrophic stupid.”

You’re not wrong. About a decade or so ago, hot on the heels of the financial crisis, something happened — an old story began to be rewritten, as the world found itself poorer once again. There was an explosion, somewhere deep in the human heart, and a tsunami rippled across the globe — one boiling and bubbling with every imaginable variety of stupid: human folly, gleeful ignorance, self-destructive greed, reckless spite, dim-witted cruelty parading itself as enlightenment.

And so now a tsunami of imbecility is rolling like a slow-motion thermonuclear bomb across the globe. Lightning bolts of foolishness shiver down it. Smoke clouds of idiocy billow from it. Here are the five kinds of stupid wrecking the globe — because your first job, these days, as a human being, is to make sure you’re not being turned into an imbecile by this wave of stupid, too.

Economic stupid is nationalism, populism, or austerity, three words that craftily mean the same thing. It’s the idea that “we don’t have the money to pay for it!!”, whether “it” is school lunches, healthcare, education, parks, libraries, media, or trains. Sure we have the money. What do you think an era of zero interest rates mean? It means that there is so much money sloshing around in the treasure chests of the global economy, so much loot piled up by Jeff Bezoses and Bill Gateses, that there is nowhere left to put it. Not a single place: all the yachts, super mansions, and trophy castles have been bought. 

Nada left to buy equals zilch interest to lend at. Zero interest doesn’t just means “societies can borrow for better than free and give everyone healthcare, education, an income, and savings” — it means that if they don’t, the economy will go right on cruising into oblivion, because that money will go on piling at the top, instead of doing anything remotely useful, beneficial, or necessary.

Now, who’s the prime exemplar of austerity? America, of course. There, thanks to four decades of people imbecilically destroying their very own government, those very people live in rank indignity — they have no healthcare, retirement, pensions, safety nets, and therefore, they have no mobility, opportunity, stability, security, and therefore, quite reasonably, they have no hope or optimism left, which is why they’re turning to harder and harder drugs to numb the pain of it all. But see the point: the nationalist says: “us first!!!”, but ironically, he only means “them last!!” He is too stupid to invest in his very own society. He wants, instead, to kick out the scapegoats, exclude the minority, scorn the weak. But he doesn’t see that “us first” and “them last” are not opposites — they quite often go hand in hand in a race to the bottom of the abyss. Ah, only a true imbecile would confuse up for down...

Denial. Self-chosen ignorance. Socially constructed mass delusions. Overweening folly. About the world, humanity, life, and each other. Things will be OK, go back to normal. We stick our fingers and cry “LA LA LA LA!!” at the merest mention of even the tiniest inconvenient truth — quick, change the channel, unlike that person, unfollow. So here are a few of those truths, now that I’ve got you in a position where you can’t squirm away so easily.....


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

CALL THE POLICE IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY - "Depriving a child of necessary care that either caused serious harm or created a substantial risk of serious harm...."


New Jersey Minimum Immunization Requirements for Kindergarten
-Grade 12 Attendance
N.J.A.C. 8:57
-4 Immunization of Pupils in School

State Statutes Search


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

To Vax Or Not To Vax? There Is No Question!

In May 2016, Grossman flew to South Africa to offer assistance to Rabbi Eliezer Berland, an ostracized leader in the Bratslav Hasidic sect who was later convicted of sexual asault. He Has a Long History of Very Questionable & Troubling Behavior When It Comes To Sexual Predators...

Malka Leifer - Adorned With Non-Tiffany Bracelets

Leifer Demeaned By Wearing Not Your Typical Bracelets For Jewish Women - Grossman Said Initially That Was Punishment Enough!


Prominent rabbi withdraws support for alleged Australian child molester


Yitzchak Dovid Grossman expresses regret that his offer of a home to a suspect awaiting extradition called into question his mission to help at-risk youth

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman (Uri Lenz/FLASH90)
Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman 

A prominent Israeli rabbi on Monday withdrew his support for an ultra-Orthodox woman accused of 74 charges of sex abuse, including rape, while she taught at a Jewish school in Australia, just a week after he had recommended to the court that she be place under house arrest under his supervision.

“I am very sensitive to the pain and plight of children and adults who are abused,” said Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman in a statement explaining his decision to “completely withdraw” his involvement in the case.

“It is regretful that the current turmoil has in any way called into question that mission and dedication,” he wrote.

Last month, the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s court ruled that it would delay consideration of whether to extradite the suspect to Australia until a psychiatrist could review her case. Her name is gagged in Israel by court order because she has not been accused of committing a crime in the country.

An Australian woman wanted in her home country for child sex abuse crimes is seen at the Jerusalem District Court on February 14, 2018

During a hearing last week, Grossman served as a character witness for the defendant in the Jerusalem District Court, saying that “for her to be in custody is a humiliation.”

He offered to host her under house arrest at his home, adding that if she left the house “for even a second, we will take her straight to the police immediately,” according to the Brisbane Times.

The judge agreed to release her to Grossman’s custody in the town of Migdal Ha’emek, prompting harsh criticism from an activist who wants to see her extradited to Australia and held to account.

The decision was overturned days later by the Supreme Court, which ordered her kept in police custody.

Grossman was criticized for attempting to shield the suspect. On Monday, critics commended his decision to withdraw his offer, but slammed him for failing to offer an apology as well.

“Once he takes full and unequivocal responsibility for what he has done, we expect him to undergo an education process regarding the issue of child sexual abuse, so that he will be better placed to address such cases in the future,” victims rights advocate Manny Waks said in a statement.

Dassi Erlich, who has accused the woman of abusing her when she was a pupil, issued an angry statement after last week’s court decision was announced.

The woman “has been released on bail based on some random rabbi’s testimony that he will supervise her,” Erlich charged on Facebook. “If Rabbi Grossman can have a voice, someone who is not a part of this case at all, where is our voice?!”

Grossman received the Israel Prize in 2004 and the Presidential Medal of Distinction in 2013 for having rehabilitated tens of thousands of disadvantaged children through his educational work, which began in 1972. He was twice offered the position of chief rabbi of Israel, but declined in order to focus on his position as head of a yeshiva in Migdal Haemek.

“In these difficult and highly charged situations, I have had to find a balance between my life’s goals for Migdal Ohr and the needs of Israeli society,” he wrote in his Monday statement, referencing the organization he runs for at-risk youth.

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman seen during a mass prayer at the Western Wall

While often lauded for his philanthropic work, this was not the first time Grossman sought to assist an accused sex offender.

In May 2016, he flew to South Africa to offer assistance to Rabbi Eliezer Berland, an ostracized leader in the Bratslav Hasidic sect who was later convicted of sexual assault.

The suspect in the current case is accused of sexually abusing children while she was a teacher and principal at a Melbourne school, Adass Israel.

She fled to Israel in 2008, days before allegations of sexual abuse against her surfaced.

She was arrested last month on suspicion of obstructing court proceedings and attempting to hide evidence of a case, according to a joint Justice Ministry and police statement. She had been living in the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel.

Israeli police have said she is feigning mental illness to avoid extradition to Australia.

Her lawyer, Yehuda Fried, said last week that the court ruled she should be dealt with “in the realm of mental illness.” Fried said that likely meant a years-long process before her extradition can be reconsidered.

But Israel’s Court Administration later said that the court will convene again on March 28 after a psychiatric evaluation has been carried out, indicating an extradition decision could be made sooner.
She was arrested following an undercover investigation at Interpol’s request and is suspected of obstructing Israeli court proceedings by attempting to hide evidence.

A court previously stopped extradition proceedings after determining she was not fit to stand trial.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Victims are silenced; sexual predators are protected; and high-ranking members of the community do everything they can to prevent news of the incident from getting out for fear it will reflect badly on the entire community....

Extradite Leifer 


After years of foot dragging, it has become clear that the Israeli legal system is unable to process Leifer’s case fairly.


Extradite Leifer
Malka Leifer, a former Australian school principal who is wanted in Australia on suspicion of sexually abusing students, walks in the corridor of the Jerusalem District Court accompanied by Israeli Prison Service guards, in Jerusalem February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun) 

The details of the Malka Leifer sexual abuse case are frighteningly familiar. They follow a pattern common to sexual abuse cases in faith communities, whether Jewish or not.

Victims are silenced; sexual predators are protected; and high-ranking members of the community do everything they can to prevent news of the incident from getting out for fear it will reflect badly on the entire community.

Defending the good name of the community justifies covering up the child abuse of rabbis, priests or mullahs.

Allowing crimes to go unpunished and ignoring the suffering of victims – often helpless children – is, in the eyes of the faithful, a small price to pay to prevent the entire community from being disgraced.

Leifer, former principal of the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel School in Melbourne, is wanted in Australia on 74 counts of sexual assault against Jewish girls aged 14 to 15.

Until 2008 when Australian law enforcers sought to arrest her, Leifer was shielded by the haredi community in Melbourne from allegations that emerged of her destructive behavior. Victims and their families were intimidated to remain silent or face ostracism by the community.

These families, which have internalized the norms of the ultra-Orthodox community, were wary of being labeled a moser, a derogatory term for a Jew who turns to the gentile law enforcement authorities for help against a fellow Jew. Further weakening the position of the families was the knowledge that a young woman who exposes herself as a victim of sexual abuse would have a difficult time finding a husband within the insular ultra-Orthodox community.

Meanwhile, Leifer was allowed to continue to cause pain and trauma to girls.

When the community could protect Leifer no longer and law enforcement authorities were on the verge of arresting her, Leifer and her family were smuggled out of Australia to Israel by staff members at Adass Israel. She found refuge in the haredi community of Immanuel in Samaria, just north of Ariel.

In 2015, the Melbourne Supreme Court awarded $1 million in damages to a former student of Leifer. Justice Jack Rush said the actions taken by staff at the Adass Israel School to protect Leifer and help her flee Australia were “deplorable and disgraceful.”

Hadassah Ehrlich, one of three sisters sexually abused by Leifer, told the court that at the time of the abuse, which started in 2002, she was too fearful to complain because of the power Leifer wielded in the ultra-Orthodox community. “She was seen as the head of the school and the whole community looked up to her and basically idolized her,” Ehrlich said. “She was seen as someone who was holier than holy.”

Compounding the atrocity is that the State of Israel is also complicit in obstructing justice. Leifer continues to be sheltered in Israel, not just by the ultra-Orthodox community but by the State of Israel, which has refrained thus far from extraditing her to Australia.

In June 2016 – eight years after first arriving in Israel – an Israeli court stopped the extradition process after a psychiatric assessment found she was not fit to stand trial.

But a police undercover investigation concluded last month revealed signs she was feigning mental illness to avoid extradition. Leifer was jailed. The court has asked for a new psychiatric evaluation but, inexplicably, has yet to receive one.

In another outrageous twist to the story, however, Leifer was released to house arrest after the intervention of Migdal Ha’emek Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Dovid Grossman, who testified on her behalf and claimed that Leifer was unfit to remain in custody. The Jerusalem District Court agreed to release Leifer to house arrest provided Grossman vouch for her adherence to court orders.

After years of foot dragging, it has become clear that the Israeli legal system is unable to process Leifer’s case fairly.

She must be extradited to Australia where her psychiatric status can be objectively assessed. 

Friday, March 09, 2018

Trust any of these imbeciles at your own peril...and that of your community!

The Vaccine Choice Coalition

Thank you for joining The Vaccine Choice Coalition, a coalition of parents who believe that vaccines should be a choice in frum Jewish communities. Your participation enables us to join together and b'ezras Hashem help the many pro vaccine-choice families amongst us. By joining the coalition you agree to have your name and personal information added to our private database. Your information will never be released or revealed to a third party without your permission. If the coalition should find it necessary to release your name in the course of assisting its members you may receive an email requesting your permission.


The Vaccine Choice Coalition is endorsed and backed by HaRav Malkiel Kotler shlit"a, HaRav Elya Ber Wachtfogel shlit"a and HaRav Shmuel Meir Katz shlit"a. If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact us at 732-806-7739


Thursday, March 08, 2018

FOR SHAME DOVID GROSSMAN! - Rabbi Grossman, who has never previously been associated with the case, argued to the Judge Ram Winograd that it was a "humiliation" for Ms Leifer to remain in custody and it would be bad for her mental health....

Malka Leifer: Judge says former Melbourne principal accused of child abuse can be freed from detention in Israel

Malka Leifer is led from the court by a police woman.  
There were angry scenes outside a Jerusalem court after an Israeli judge ruled former Melbourne principal Malka Leifer could be freed from police custody to home detention.

Ms Leifer is wanted by Victorian police on 74 charges of child sexual abuse, including rape.

The former principal of the Addas ultra orthodox girls school in Melbourne has been in custody since February 12 after Israeli police rearrested the 54-year-old, accusing her of faking mental illness for the past three years in order to avoid extradition to Australia.

The court was delayed by nearly an hour to wait for the arrival of senior Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman.

Image of a rabbi standing in a corridor outside a courtroom looking at someone  


Rabbi Grossman, who has never previously been associated with the case, argued to the Judge Ram Winograd that it was a "humiliation" for Ms Leifer to remain in custody and it would be bad for her mental health. 

He told the court his two assistants would monitor the former principal and that they would "call police immediately" if she left the address of the house arrest.

Rabbi Grossman told the Judge he "knows what jails are like" and he wants to supervise Ms Leifer to "save her life".

The Rabbi is well known for his charity work in Israel and is a recipient of the 2004 Israel Prize, generally regarded as the state's highest cultural honour.

Judge Winograd set bail for Ms Leifer at $37,000 and ordered that she will be released on March 9 at 10:00am.

Victims not happy with release


Outside the court, supporters of Ms Leifer's alleged victims yelled questions at Rabbi Grossman, demanding to know why he had chosen to support her case.

A side-on image of a man wearing a yamulke raising both hands with palms out in a hallway outside a courtroom  

"What about her alleged victims?" former Melbourne resident Adam Segal yelled in the hallway at the Rabbi.

"If you want to help, put her on a plane."

Ms Leifer's alleged victims say they are outraged at the court's decisions.

"How dare a rabbi come in and support her and talk about her humiliation? And her mental state?
What about us?" former Addas student Dassi Erlich said.

"Today's ruling is an outrageous travesty of justice. We are utterly appalled.

"An official sign-off on the psychiatrists report was requested three times by the court. The report remains unsigned. What is the reason for this absolute failure of procedure?"


Ms Erlich said she and her sister have "tried not to be angry with Israel" but they are outraged by how the court allowed the Rabbi to present his opinion.

"This sounded like a third-world courtroom," she told the ABC.

"Why is his voice given precedence over all these other voices?

"Why has this random rabbi has does nothing to do with this case been listened to?

"What parallel dimension are we working on here? A judicial system that shows more concern for the humiliation of the defendant over the humiliation of its victims?"

Israeli state attorney Matan Atikva told the ABC he would appeal the ruling to the Israeli Supreme Court.


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

3 Jews 10 Opinions!

Mandelblit Endorses Reform Right to Separate Administrator at Kosel

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
 Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit issued a legal opinion on Monday that could reignite controversy over the claims of the Reform and Conservative movements to the Kosel.

In a submission to the High Court, Mandelblit said that the heterodox groups not only have a right to the prayer area designated for them at the southern end of the Kosel, but are also entitled to an administrator for it who is not subordinate to the chief rabbinate, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Torah community has fought tenaciously against any official recognition of the non-Orthodox groups, and are expected to oppose the attorney general’s recommendation as well.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, chairman of the Coalition of Jewish Values, told Hamodia on Monday night that he was opposed to the opinion for two reasons:

“I find at least two serious irregularities in this decision. First, it was Avichai Mandelblit, who as Cabinet Secretary instituted the plan to have this pluralistic section at the Western Wall. For him to now decide on its fate, as Israel Attorney General, is a serious conflict of interest.

“Second, the tradition and custom of the entire Western Wall is Orthodox and under the auspices of the Chief Rabbis. For him to create new traditions at the site is not the authority of the government.
“I pray that this decision will be challenged by all that hold Jewish tradition important,” Rabbi Lerner concluded.

Spokeswoman for the Orthodox group Women for the Wall, Leah Aharoni, told Hamodia on Monday night that “Appointing a government official in charge of protecting non-halachic prayer rights at the Kotel gives the heterodox movements just the kind of recognition they are trying to establish for themselves in Israel. It would set precedent for establishing the Reform as a ‘parallel track’ to traditional Judaism, a travesty we must prevent at all cost.”

As for the part of Mandelblit’s statement which referred to the status of the southern part of the Kosel in question, she said:

“Ever since 1967 rabbinic consensus has been that Robinson’s Arch is an integral part of the Kotel and that the kedusha of the Kotel extends to this part of the wall as well.”

Regarding administration of the non-Orthodox site, Mandelblit said that the regulations of the Law for Protecting the Holy Sites could not be implemented at Robinson’s Arch by someone opposed to non-Orthodox prayer since the “customs of the site” are for egalitarian prayer and prayer services of Women of the Wall.

“Therefore… a government agent who does not represent the chief rabbinate should be appointed as an ‘administrator’ of the southern prayer plaza,” he wrote, adding that it should be an “appropriate” government official.

Leaders of the Reform and Conservative groups in Israel welcomed the attorney general’s opinion.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

My Cousin Michael...(His Mom, Aunt Freida, was Reb Shraga Feivel's Sister)

 In this day and age it is nearly impossible to stay 100% healthy and fit. Between long hours sitting in an office chair, balancing a family, and accomplishing everything else on your to-do list, it's no wonder that health has become a relative term. To combat this, Michael Kaufman shows you how to extend your life by living healthy and fit. Am I My Body's Keeper contains no magic life-extending elixir, nor a secret map to help you discover the fountain of youth. Am I My Body's Keeper provides a simple guide to changing your lifestyle, from the sedentary one characterizing most of society to an active one emphasizing physical activity and healthy eating. The simple lifestyle changes advocated by this book will give you vim and vigor, health and fitness during those additional years of life you will be gaining. Based upon the timeless teachings of the Jewish sages as well as scientific research, Am I My Body's Keeper is a guide for good, healthy living. It is for young and old, men and women—for everyone who wishes to be healthy and fit and to live a long life.


Healthy in Body and Spirit

Michael Kaufman's potentially lifesaving new work

In the gym that I frequent too infrequently, there hangs a New Yorker–style cartoon depicting a doctor speaking to an overweight, middle-aged man sitting on the examination table. The caption reads: "What fits your busy schedule better — exercising one hour a day, or being dead 24 hours a day?"

Michael Kaufman makes a similar point at the outset of his potentially lifesaving new work, Am I My Body's Keeper? Torah, Science, Diet and Fitness — for Life. "Since a prerequisite for living a Torah life is obviously 'living,' the Jew must be keenly aware of the very first duty to be healthy, for otherwise no mitzvos can be observed and no Torah learned."

In his haskamah to Kaufman's work, Rabbi Yosef Fleischman, rosh kollel of one of the largest Choshen Mishpat kollels in the world, notes a striking paradox. No religion puts such an emphasis on the sanctity of life and the preciousness of every moment as Judaism. "One would think therefore that religious Jews would live a life-promoting lifestyle. However, many religious Jews engage in practices that are harmful to their health. It would seem that... many are sadly unaware of the facts, and they are paying for their ignorance."

Anyone who has ever stood in the checkout line on an Erev Shabbos in a religious neighborhood can readily confirm Rabbi Fleischman's observation. Entire shopping carts are filled with the most caloric, least nutritious nosh and sugary soft drinks. And we will not even discuss the preservative-laden cold cuts that are staples at so many Shabbos tables and kiddushim.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, the Jerusalem Post's excellent health columnist, writes in a review of Am I My Body's Keeper that "chareidi Jews and to a lesser extent modern Orthodox are at higher risk of heart attacks, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic maladies than the secular population." (Happily, that does not mean we live less long. Chareidim in Israel live, on average, three years longer. Other factors such as social networks, a sense of meaning in our lives, and a large familial support system compensate for the dietary deficits.)

Kaufman is hardly the first Jew to advocate strongly for a healthy lifestyle. The Rambam was the great champion of preventive medicine. "A physician's ability to prevent illness is greater proof of his skill than his ability to cure a sick person," he writes. The Rambam had few of the modern physician's diagnostic or curative tools at his disposal. But the basics of preventive medicine have remained largely unchanged: a healthy diet and regular vigorous exercise remain the keys.

If one follows his rules of diet, exercise and sufficient sleep, the Rambam assures us, we will enjoy good health and freedom from disease until we become old and die. And he warns those who learn diligently the entire day that they too must not neglect the necessity of physical exercise involving the entire body and all the limbs.

In our times, the Chofetz Chaim was careful to prevent bochurim in Radin from overexertion in learning. "The entire Torah," he writes, "is dependent upon the mitzvah of taking care of your body."

HISTORICALLY, Jewish and Christian attitudes to the necessity of preserving the health of the body differed radically, as Kaufman details in one of the book's most fascinating chapters. Torah places a high value on personal hygiene, as well as on the cleanliness of the surrounding environment. Bathhouses were central public facilities in every Jewish community. The stench of garbage or human refuse constituted halachic bars to davening.

Paul, the organizational founder of the Church, ridiculed Jews for their punctilious concern with personal cleanliness. "The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly... and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions [of cleanliness] that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches."

Meanwhile medieval European cities were running cesspools of garbage and refuse, human and animal, everywhere. Moreover, a disdain for the body was taken as a sign of saintliness. Kaufman writes of many Christian "saints" whose saintliness consisted primarily in never bathing and giving off a stench so vile that no one could approach them. During the Spanish Inquisition one of the signs used to ferret out insincere converts to Christianity was their continued affinity for personal hygiene.
Jews remained far less susceptible to the recurrent plagues that affected the medieval Christian world because of their efforts to keep their surroundings clean and the frequent washing of their hands. That Jewish communities were relatively less hard-hit by the bubonic plague was one of the key pieces of evidence cited by Christians that Jews were poisoning the wells.

BESIDES THE FASCINATING halachic and historical material he brings, Kaufman does a superb job of summarizing the current state of scientific evidence concerning diet and exercise in a concise and compelling fashion. (He avoids taking sides where the evidence is conflicting, such as the ongoing debate over the pros and cons of coffee.)

Some of his information will be familiar to those who attempt to keep abreast of the relevant literature, such as his list of the ten healthiest foods: apples, almonds, broccoli, blueberries, oily fish (salmon, sardines), leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, wheat germ, avocadoes and oatmeal. Even that list, however, may be news to many readers.

But Am I My Body's Keeper is laced with many genuine surprises. An entire chapter is devoted to the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. As the current saying goes, "Sitting is the new smoking." And most of us spend many hours of our day sitting, whether it is learning in kollel or in front of a computer screen.

Some of the first hints of the dangers of lack of regular movement came from NASA studies of the first astronauts. NASA scientists found that just three orbits around the earth at zero gravity left John Glenn considerably aged. Even regular exercise is not sufficient to overcome the effects of too much sitting, as proved by the study of astronauts, who were in superb physical condition.

Let me just give some hint as to how compelling the chapter on sedentary lifestyles is. When I first read the chapter in the manuscript over two years ago, I immediately undertook to follow Kaufman's example of standing for all of davening, except where there is a strong halachic preference for sitting. And when I reread the published book, I did so standing up the entire time. Now, all I have left to do is create the same shtender/work desk, at which Kaufman stands and does all his learning and writing.

(Incidentally, Am I My Body's Keeper is Kaufman's ninth book, including a seminal work on Feminism and Judaism, and his memoir In One Era and Out the Other which discusses the American Jewish community and the yeshivah world in the immediate postwar period.)

Ultimately, Am I My Body's Keeper is an extremely optimistic book. True, none of us gets to pick our genes. But twin studies show that lifestyle choices can be far more powerful than genetics in determining both the length and the quality of our lives. There is now evidence, for instance, that not only can exercise delay various aging processes, but that it can even reverse them. In 2007, a team at Columbia University observed something long thought impossible: The creation of new brain cells in an already mature brain among those who exercised regularly. And this process was taking place in the prefrontal cortex and temporal cortex, parts of the brain connected to thinking and memory, and which are particularly vulnerable to aging. And we are not talking about Olympic athletes.

Researchers found that healthy but sedentary adults in their sixties who started walking 40 minutes three times a week experienced a two percent annual growth in the hippocampus, which controls memory.

There is nothing, according to Kaufman's studies, that is not improved by exercise and a proper diet — health, mobility, cognition, and mood. With respect to the latter, exercise has been shown to be as effective as the leading medications for conditions related to depression.

But in addition to all the good things mentioned above, it must be noted that discipline is required to follow Kaufman's dietary and exercise prescriptions. And that discipline, in turn, has implications in all aspects of our lives, including our avodas Hashem.

Those working with struggling teenagers have long known that the gym is one of the best places to start. There teens learn discipline and gain self-esteem. Every time one lifts a weight one more time, despite the yetzer's call to stop, or surpasses a previous personal milestone, one experiences the feeling of having overcome oneself, which is at the root of self-esteem.

When Jordan Peterson, who went on to become a Harvard professor and today one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world, speaks about turning his life around at 25, he always refers to steps right out of Am I My Body's Keeper: He stopped smoking two packs a day, gave up his heavy drinking, and started lifting weights, more than doubling the amount that he could bench press in a short period of time.

Certainly, Kaufman is his own best advertisement for his advice. Now in his 86th year, though he has finally given up running, he still stands ramrod straight. He rises at 5 a.m. each morning for the haneitz minyan at the nearby Ger beis medrash. A vigorous cardio workout on the elliptical machine is followed by learning an amud yomi, and then on to the gym to workout with weights. A brisk walk comes next, and three times a week swimming laps. Only then is he ready for breakfast, and the ten-hour workday at his shtenders/desk. On Shabbos he walks from the end of Geula to the haneitz minyan at the Kosel.

For having taken it upon himself to show us all the way to a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life, I wish Kaufman, "l'chayim."

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