Sunday, July 29, 2007

With gedolim like these. . . .

Give me the ktanim!
Seen on Arutz Sheva: Several young Israeli haredi men, yeshiva students, died of dehydration(ר''ל) while hiking during an unusual heat wave. Secular authorities advised Israelis not to hike until the heat breaks. Rav Elyashiv and Rav Shteinman, of Slifkingate infamy, did them one better. Don't hike at all during the bein hazmanim break between Tisha B'Av and Elul. God forbid Jewish boys should be strong and healthy; they might get strange ideas about going into the Army and earning a living. Why they might even meet strong and healthy girls with whom to make strong and healthy Jewish babies. Really now, who taught those yokels exercise physiology? Worse still, who taught them Torah? Hiking is a venerable Israeli tradition. God Himself instructed Avraham Avinu to travel the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael to assert the sovereignty that God promised his descendants (Bereshit 13:17). From extensive hiking comes a love of the land, and from love of the land comes the Israeli fighting spirit. Some of my most cherished memories are from my Beit Sefer Sadeh experience in 1974, traipsing all over with Tanakh in our hands and our hearts (since duplicated by my son who slept in the very same igloos I slept in on Kfar Etzion). But for the Elyashivs and Shteinmans among us, Torah begins and ends with Ravina and Rav Ashi. Tanakh is, at best, an afterthought.

Here's my advice to those boys, gleaned from my studies and long experience as a marathon runner, doing my best running in summertime:
1. Don't hike in extremely hot weather, especially if you are not in condition.
2. Begin at dawn or before, when temperatures are relatively low. Find shelter when the sun is hottest.
3. Carry ample supplies of water and carbohydrate-rich gorp.
4. Do not hike alone. Travel in groups, or at least with a buddy and a cell phone to call for help if necessary.
5. Replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat; water is not enough. Someone in Israel must be producing a sports drink similar to Powerade.
6. Be aware of the symptoms of heat illness and watch for them in your fellow hikers. Stop to rest, rehydrate and refuel.
7. Remember that our ancestors ran down their dinner in a hot tropical climate. The human organism is superbly adapted for heat, as long as you
8. Keep yourself in shape. Get away from the books, go outside, hike and play ball not only bein hazmanim but all year. And don't be surprised if you come back with fresh insights into your learning. Increased blood and oxygen to the brain can do funny things.
Here are some pictures from my tiyulim:
Atop Giv'at Hakrav (Battle Hill), where
35 Israelis lost their lives in 1948 attempting
to relieve Kfar Etzion. I am on the right.

At Mamre, where God appeared to Avraham.
Don't let the pocket protector fool you; I was
one of the fittest hikers in the group.

Making muscles at Masada. I am in the
front row, left, holding tefilin in my right hand.
We davened in the beit knesset where the
freedom fighters davened 1900 years ago.

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Blogger Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Excellent post and good tips. I've done the hiking thing in Israel as well in places from Panias down to Eilat. It's one thing to read of the praise of Eretz Yisrael in the Chumash, Nach and Talmud, but even more powerful to stand where our ancestors did and look out over the same visits, giving us a conneection like no other.

Mon Jul 30, 06:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

the last time i was hiking in the desert in Israel (near אלמוג, along Highway 1 between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea), the guide who was with us pointed out a plant called מלוח which is full of salty electrolytes. you can pick a few leaves off and put them in your water bottle, or chew them.

Tue Jul 31, 08:26:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the ban actually said that they could go hiking under the guidance of the yeshiva. They want some adult supervision. Not a bad idea for kids who are apparently ill equipped to go hiking alone. They'll go a few times with some adults, and learn some skills.

Tempest in a teapot.

Thu Aug 09, 07:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger thanbo said...

as for electrolyte-drink, Crystal Light makes some flavors with electrolyte-replacers. You can get the little powder packets and mix them with a pint of water to make the Gatorade-equivalent. Note that Crystal-Light is sugar-free, so kids will need another source of sugar.

They Crystal-Light helped at my college reunion - lots of walking, all day, in the hot/humid weather.

Thu Aug 23, 02:34:00 PM EDT  

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