Friday, June 29, 2007

What's it all for?

Seen recently on Cross-Currents:

"Many years ago, my rosh yeshiva remarked of avid joggers: They are running in order to live longer. But they have no idea what they are living for."

Being an avid jogger, I beg to differ. When I put on my IDF singlet and do a pirsumei nisa run on Yom Ha'atzma'ut (see my earlier post), I know what I'm living for. When I put on my Israeli flag shirt and run to the Holocaust Museum in New York's Battery Park, I know what I'm living for. When I put on the same shirt and run the New York City Marathon, collecting cheers of "Go Israel!" all along the course, and finally reciting "ozer yisrael b'gvurah" and sheheheyanu at the finish line, I know what I am living for. When I run to visit a sick person or to donate blood (which, b"h, I am healthy enough to do several times a year), I know what I'm living for. When I run to the grave of a relative or friend, or to the World Trade Center site, and recite tehilim and kel malei rahamim, I know what I'm living for. When I run in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, stop to daven minha under a tree and experience an enhanced tfila surrounded by the works of God and the happy laughter of children playing, I know what I'm living for. When I run through Brooklyn's "minority" neighborhoods and a former student recognizes me and greets me exuberantly, I know what I'm living for. When I would walk some three miles every Shabbat to a job as a ba'al koreh, I knew what I was living for.
During my peregrinations I all too often come across fat slobs in black hats with bellies that would do credit to a pregnant woman and cigarettes dangling from their mouths. They are the ones that cannot experience the joy of living and serving Hashem, who will likely end up in an early grave and leave a young widow and many children who will require the services of a professional schnorrer. I am not under illusions of immortality, but while I live I intend to live life to the full. Else, what's it all for?

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Blogger Garnel Ironheart said...

To be fair, the gist of the article was the same as your point - exercising is good if done with a purpose. Joggers who simply do it to worship their body without having a higher goal in mind were the targets of the criticism.

Mon Jul 02, 04:10:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Neandershort said...

The rosh yeshiva seems to be tarring all or almost all "avid joggers" with the same broad brush.
Having run organized races in New York since the '70s I see a different picture. Almost every race raises funds for some charity, usually cancer research, sometimes for the upkeep of Central Park, where most of the races are run. Many of us organize running events in public elementary schools, introducing kids who might otherwise contract diabetes and hyperlipidemia to an activity that will keep them well, and building their self-esteem into the bargain. Kids who participate in those programs usually improve academically as well.
There's too much readiness on the part of some of us to judge everybody who is not in our community "l'khaf hova". I'm more than a little sick of being told that runners are selfish. We are better husbands and fathers (or wives and mothers as the case may be) precisely because we keep ourselves healthy. And what on earth is wrong with wanting to look attractive for our spouses even after the children are grown?

Tue Jul 03, 12:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Reb Yudel said...

And how many of the folks in yeshiva are studying Torah just to get a shtitkl olam haba?

Mon Jul 23, 06:36:00 PM EDT  

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