Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones. — Proverbs 3:7–8
A story is told about a rabbi at the Passover Seder, the ritual Passover meal, together with his family. The Passover meal is accompanied by a text that’s used as a guide through the night. When the family arrived at the portion where they blessed God who redeemed Israel, the rabbi’s grandson was visibly moved. He truly felt the miracle of the Exodus and gratitude for all the miracles that God performed for him and his family.
He turned to his grandfather and said, “This is the most beautiful blessing of all!” He was referring to this blessing which recognized God’s miraculous salvation. Surprisingly, his grandfather disagreed. The rabbi turned to his grandson and said, “There is an even greater blessing that we say every day.”
The perplexed grandson asked, “And which one is that?” His grandfather explained, “Asher Yatzar.” In the Jewish tradition, this is the blessing we make thanking God for creating our bodies with His infinite wisdom and for maintaining the precious system which keeps us healthy. We make this blessing every time we use the bathroom in recognition of this miracle.
This story teaches us that the miracle of everyday health is just as great as the miracle of the parting of the sea, or perhaps even greater. The only difference is that the parting of the sea and the Exodus from Egypt happened only once, while we enjoy the benefits of a functioning body almost every day. Yet, it also teaches us that we must never take the “little things” for granted — our health, family, and sustenance are miracles we ought to appreciate every day. They are gifts that we must recognize as given to us by God every day of our lives.
In Proverbs we read: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD . . . This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” So many people mistakenly attribute their health to an exercise regimen, a special diet, or a “healthy lifestyle.” While these things are important and necessary, as we are required to do our part in maintaining our health, we must not get confused between what is our part and what is God’s part.
We have all seen people with the ultimate health regimen end up sick and others with a totally unhealthy lifestyle live a long life. Ultimately, health is not the result of our wisdom, but a gift from God.
Friends, let us take time to be grateful for the miracle that is our body. Anyone who has studied medicine knows what an incredible wonder it is. Praise God for all that He has given us and never take our health for granted.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President