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Ask the Rabbi #36

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Ask the Rabbi

October 1, 1994; Issue #36

This issue is dedicated in the memory of Mr. Bernard Harris O.B.M. - 17 Elul 5754

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Contents:
  • Jogging and Shabbos
  • Anger and the Torah
  • Subscription Information
  • Back issues are indexed both by issue no. and by subject
  • Ohr Somayach Home Page

  • Jogging and Shabbos

    Michael Sultan from Vermont wrote:

    I am in the habit of regular jogging...every other day. My jogging frequently ends up on a Saturday morning. I am interested to know whether jogging, or exercise for that matter conflicts with the spirit of Shabbat. The jogging is done solely for health purposes and often involves quiet reflection in pleasant surroundings. Thank you for providing this forum...Shalom.


    Dear Michael,

    Generally speaking, running on Shabbat is forbidden unless you are running to do a mitzvah or for pleasure. The first thing that we need to clarify in your case is whether running is pleasurable for you, or is it unpleasant, but you are doing it because you know that it's good for you. If it is unpleasant, then it would be forbidden because of the Rabbinical prohibition against non-essential health care on Shabbat. If it is, in fact, enjoyable, then it would appear to be permitted. Rabbi Neuwirth in "Shmirath Shabbath Kehilchatha" writes that he heard from Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, shlita, that if the person enjoys the exercise it is permitted for him to do it on Shabbat.

    There are other halachic considerations that are not being taken into account. For example, you could not carry a stop-watch or a water bottle during your run. Of course, you can't wear those shoes that light-up each time you take a step! When you return, there would be problems taking a shower in a normal fashion. It would probably be greatly preferred if you could arrange your jogging schedule for Friday afternoon and/or Saturday night.

    A friend of mine told me of a novel twist to an old Jewish saying. He was once walking to Shul on Shabbat when he found himself overtaken by a middle aged, Jewish jogger. The jogger was sweating profusely and clearly tired out, and as he passed my friend he turned and said, "Oy, its shver tzu zein a Yid!" (Woe, its hard to be a Jew!).

    Sources:

    • Shulchan Aruch - Orach Chaim, 301:1-2.
    • Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan - Mishneh Brura 301:7.
    • Rabbi Yehoshua Neuwirth - Shmirath Shabbath Kehilchatha (Hebrew edition) - 16:39 note 99.


    Anger and the Torah

    Mrs Alexis S. Berman wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    I would like to know where in the Torah it discusses the topic of anger.

    Thank you very much.


    Dear Mrs. Berman,

    Anger is considered one of the most destructive traits. Yaakov Avinu (Jacob) strongly admonishes his children Shimon and Levi "Accursed is their rage for it is intense, and their wrath for it is harsh..." Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) warns "Anger resides in the bosom of fools." The Midrash criticizes Moshe for becoming angry: "Rabbi Eliezer states: in three instances (Moshe) came to be angry and thus came to err: Upon being angry at Elazar and Itamar the sons of Aharon; after being angry with the commanding soldiers who returned from battle with Midian; and upon being angry at the Children of Israel when they demanded water."

    It is puzzling that "anger" is so destructive and is nevertheless not the subject of a direct commandment. There is no mitzvah "Thou shalt not be angry." Rav Chaim Vital in his classic work "Sha'arei Kedusha" addresses this question, and answers it with a very profound concept. Before we ever get to the point of performing mitzvot there is a need to develop our basic character. The traits that comprise our character determine the way in which we fulfill the mitzvot. We must spend our energy in perfecting these aspects of ourselves - once these are properly developed we can perform the mitzvot with relative ease.

    Conclusion: Overcoming anger is a foundation for the proper fulfillment of the entire Torah, and is therefore not counted as a separate mitzvah.

    Sources:

    • Bereishit, 49:7.
    • Kohelet, 7:9.
    • Sifri - Matot.
    • Rabbi Chaim Vital - Sha'arei Kedusha, part 1, gate 2.


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