The source document of this text is not known.
Please see this document's talk page for details for verification. "Source" means a location at which other users can find a copy of this work. Ideally this will be a scanned copy of the original that can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and proofread. If not, it is preferably a URL; if one is not available, please explain on the talk page.
1: Rules of Conduct Upon Rising in the Morning edit
"Shiviti Hashem lenegdi tamid/I have set Hashem before me always" (Ps. 16.8): This is a cardinal rule of the Torah and from among the features of the tzadikim who walk before God. For a person's sitting, movements and carrying about when alone in his house are not like how he sits, moves and carries about when he is in front of a great king. Similarly, neither is his conversation nor his attitude when he is among his family and friends like when he is in the presence of royalty. For then he will certainly take care of his behavior and his speech that they will be suitably correct. How much more should a man watch himself because the Great King, the Holy One, blessed be He, whose glory fills all the earth, is standing over him and observing his actions, as it is said: Can a man hide himself in secret places that I cannot see him? says Hashem, Do I not fill heaven and earth? He will certainly immediately acquire a feeling of reverence and submission from fear of the Hashem Yitbarakh and he will be ashamed to do any wrong thing.
Even while still lying in bed one should be aware before whom he sleeps, and as soon as he awakes he should acknowledge the loving kindness of the Lord, blessed be His name, which He has done for him, by returning his soul to him, which was given to Him weary and returned to him renewed and refreshed, thus enabling him to serve Him, Blessed be His name, with all his ability, and to serve Him all day. For this is the goal of every man, as it says in the text: They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness, which means, every morning man is like a newborn living being; and for this he must thank, with all his heart, Hashem Yitbarakh for this. While still in his bed he should say: "Modeh ani lefaneikha, melekh chai vekayam, shehechazarta bi nishmati bechemlah, rabbah emunatekha/I acknowledge You, living and eternal King, that You have returned my soul within me in mercy; great is Your faithfulness." Even though one's hands are still unwashed this prayer may be said, since the name of God is not mentioned in it. One should pause briefly between the word "bechemlah/in mercy" and the word "rabbah/great."
"Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion, to do the Will of Hashem, who is in heaven." "Bold as a leopard" means that a man should not be ashamed in the presence of other people who may laugh at him during his service to G-d, blessed be He. Light as an eagle, refers to our sense of vision; that is, one should be quick to close one's eyes so as not to look at evil; because sight is the initial act of sin; the eye sees,the heart covets, and the limbs the instruments of action, execute it. Swift as a deer,refers to the legs; that one's feet should run to perform good deeds. Strong as a lion refers to the heart, because the zeal to worship the Creator, blessed be He, is in the heart. and said; that he strengthens his heart in His service, and prevails over the Evil Inclination to defeat it, like a hero who fights to prevail over his enemy to defeat him, and throw him on the ground.
Therefore every man needs to make himself strong as a lion. Immediately upon awakening from sleep, and says I give thanks... he must rise quickly to the worship of our Creator, blessed and magnified be He, before the Evil Inclination overcomes him with various arguments against getting up. It will cleverly say to him, and suggest in winter: How will you get up now in the morning so early when it is so cold? In summer, he will suggest: How can you get up (now) from your bed when you haven't yet had enough sleep? Or, he is using other similar arguments. Because the Evil Inclination knows well how to trap a man, and dissuade him from getting up. Therefore, every man who fears the word of G-d, must overcome him and not listen to him. Even when getting up early and is hard for him because of fatigue or his laziness, he must make his objective the will of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. A man should have in mind: If someone, would call him to a profitable business transaction, or to collect his debt, or calls him to save his possessions from being lost for example, by a fire which started in the city, or something else similar to this, then he would certainly be quick, and get up immediately. because he cares for his possessions, and would not dawdle. Similarly, if he needed to go to perform the king's service, he would get up speedily, then he would certainly not be negligent, because of fear of punishment or in order to find favor in the king's sight. How much more would do in the service of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, one must be careful to get up speedily and swiftly. One who accustoms himself to do this, getting up early, four or five times, will have no difficulty after, Because ; He who makes an effort to do good, is assisted by Heaven.
If one is able to wake and get up at midnight and perform the midnight service, there is nothing better than this; as it is said: Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches... just as the Holy One, blessed be He, laments at that moment, as it is written: The Lord will roar from on high, and from His holy habitation utter His voice; He will roar mightily because of His fold. and He says: Woe to My children on account of whose iniquity I destroyed My house, burnt My Temple, and exiled them among the nations. But if one is unable to get up at midnight, let one at least make an effort to rise before dawn; as King David, may he be in peace, said:I will awake the dawn, meaning - I awake the dawn, but the dawn does not awake me. Even after midnight, one may perform the midnight rite, and then engage in the study of the Torah, each one according to one's abilities. The study of the Mishnah is preferable to any other thing, and by this one will be rewarded by redemption of the soul the word Mishna shows this as it contains the letters of soul Neshama But if one is not a scholar, one may read the Psalms, Ma'amadot, or some book of ethics. To study a little but with devotion is better than much study without devotion. All those that study the Torah at night the Divine Presence is with them ; as it is said : Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out thy heart like water before the presence of the Lord; which signifies; that the Divine Presence is then before you. Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said again: He who engages in the study of the Torah at night, is called 'a servant of the Lord'; as it is said: 'All ye servants of the Lord who stand by night in the house of the Lord'. When the nights are short and it is impossible to wake so early, he should at least try to get up early enough to have sufficient time to prepare himself to go to the synagogue and pray together with the congregation.
Psalms and other portions of the Torah, Prophets and Writings which ordinarily people do not say by heart, even one who does know to say them by heart, should be careful not to say them by heart.A blind man is allowed to say any portion of the Torah by heart.
We must reprove those who read Supplications in Ma'amadot and say G-d's name, and they say;Blessed are You יהוה who hear the prayers. Because they should say: Blessed are You, who hear the prayers.
32: Guarding One's Health, According to Its Nature/Science edit
[Translator's Note: Advices in this chapter were based on what was known until the time of writing, and also on the Rambam's older Mishneh Torah Hilkhot De`ot/ Laws of Personal Development Ch. 4. Due to and advances in knowledge, and some claim השתנות הטבעים/histhanut hatevi`im/change in nature, some items might not apply today.]
Since [having] a healthy and fit body is part of the ways [of knowing] Hashem, one cannot understand or know [even] one thing from the knowledge of the Creator if he is ill. Therefore a person must distance himself from things which destroy the body, and conduct himself with things which heal and make the body well. Thus it says, "Venishartem me'od lenafshoteikhem/So take good heed of yourselves" (Deut. 4:15).
And the Creator, blessed be He and blessed be His name, created man and put within him a chom tevi`i/natural [body] "heat" and this is the chiyut/vitality of a person. For if the natural fire is extinguished, his life is lost. And maintenance of this heat is by means of the food that a person eats: just like a burning fire, where if one does not constantly add wood to it, it will go out entirely, so too a person if he does not eat then the fire that is in him will go out and he will die.
The food is ground up between the teeth and mixed with liquid and saliva and is dissolved, and from there it descends to the stomach and is pulverized there as well. And it is mixed with the fluids — the stomach fluid and the bile — and is dissolved and cooked by the warmth and the fluids and is digested. That which is extracted from it — from that, all the bodily members are nourished, and it sustains the person's life; and the waste products are pushed out. It is regarding this that we mention, in the blessing "Asher yatzar/Who has formed [man]," one explanation of "umafli la`asot/and does wonder": meaning that Hakadosh Barukh Hu put it in man's nature to extract the good of the food and each member draws to itself its proper nourishment while the waste products are expelled. For if the waste matter stays inside it will become putrid and he will fall ill, Heaven forbid.
Therefore, most of the body's health or infirmity depends on the digestion of food. If digestion goes easily and well then the person is healthy; but if the digestion goes awry then the person becomes weak and can reach a state of danger, Heaven forbid.
Good digestion is when the food is not excessive and is easy to digest. For if one has eaten too much and the stomach is full then the digestion is difficult, because the stomach can no longer expand and contract as it naturally should in order to properly grind up the food. And as with a fire, if he puts too much wood on it it does not burn well; so too is the food in the stomach. So therefore the man who wants to conserve his body's health needs to be careful to eat nothing but a moderate quantity in accord with the constitution of his body: neither too little nor his entire satisfaction.
And most illnesses which befall a person are due to nothing other than bad food or filling one's stomach and overeating, even with good food. This is what Shelomo haMelekh said in his wisdom, "Shomer piv uleshono, shomer mitzarot nafsho/One who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from afflictions/guards his life from stricture" (Prov. 21:23): in other words, one who guards his mouth from eating bad food or overeating, and his tongue from speaking except for when he needs to. And the sage [hachakham: in such contexts, usually referring to Aristotle] said, "One who eats a small amount of harmful substances is not harmed as much as someone who eats a great deal of good things."
A person in his youth has a strong digestive power and therefore needs nourishment more frequently than a man who is middle-aged. And an old person, due to his diminished strength, needs his food to be light, in small amounts and high quality, to maintain his vigor.
In the hot season the digestive system is weakened due to the heat, therefore it is proper that the quantity of food on the hot days be less than during the cold days. And the healing experts have quantified eating during the sunny days only two-thirds of what he eats during the rainy days.
It is a big rule in the ways of the healers that before eating, one should exert himself in walking or labor until his body warms up, and afterwards eat. And this is the statement, "Beze`at apekha tokhal lekhem/In the sweat of your nose you shall eat bread" (Gen. 3:19); "velechem `atzlut lo tokhel/and does not eat the bread of idleness (Prov. 31:27). And one should loosen his waistband before eating, and the mnemonic is, "Ve'EKeChaH pat-lechem/And I will fetch a morsel of bread" (Gen. 18:5): "EKeChaH" is backwards acrostic for "Hater Chagurah Kodem Akhilah/loosen the belt before eating;" "PaT LeCheM/morsel of bread" is acrostic, "Pen Tavo Liydei Choli Me`ayim/lest you come to intestinal disease!" [Translator's note: In Babylon during the exile there, a tight girdle was part of common attire.] And while eating he should sit in his place or recline on his left, and not move about too much, because thereby the food will descend from the stomach before being digested and will harm him. Rather, he should walk around a little, then rest. And he should not take a walk nor exert himself after eating, nor sleep after eating until two hours, so that the `ashanim/fumes should not rise up to his brain and cause him harm. And also the bathhouse, bloodletting and intercourse are not good after eating.
People are not the same in their mezeg/temperament/constitution. Some have a hot constitution, some have a cold constitution, and some have an moderate/neutral constitution. And the foods too are different. And whoever has a moderate temperament should eat foods that are also moderate. But one whose constitution is not moderate needs to eat foods that are somewhat the opposite of his temperament. One with a hot constitution should not eat warming substances such as seasoned dishes and spices, but rather should eats foods that are somewhat cooling and sour/pickled; and one who has a cold constitution should eat foods that are somewhat warming.
And likewise the food should differ according to the time and the place. In the sunny season, he should eat cooling foods like mutton, young goats and young chickens, and also some sour/pickled foods; in the cold season, warming foods. And also in a cold country — warming foods; and in a sunny country — cooling foods.
A neutral type of food is wheat bread, but not really fine white flour, because fine white flour takes too long to digest; but rather it should include some of the bran. After it has fermented a moderate amount, he should add salt and bake it in an oven. But other foods made of wheat [i.e. wheat products that are too refined, not properly fermented, and not properly baked] are not good.
Among the best meats are yearling lambs and also nursing goats. However, all kinds of guts and the head as well are not good. Old goats and cows and mature cheese are bad and hard-to-digest foods. All fowl is easier to digest than beast meat, and the best type of fowl is chicken. The doctors have said that the food that one is accustomed to does not harm him, even if it is bad food, because habit becomes nature.
One should not eat the heart of an animal or a fowl, because it leads to forgetting. Likewise one should not eat from a spot where a rat or a cat has eaten, which also leads to forgetting.
The time to eat is when one has an appetite; a genuine craving and not an extraneous one. And differentiating between appetite and false appetite is this: the first is called ra`av/hunger, which is when the stomach is empty, and the second is when one wants some particular food, and this is called te'evon/craving/appetite. Normally, a healthy and strong person eats twice a day, and old, weaker people need to eat a small amount each time and do this many times a day, for overeating weakens the stomach. One who wants to preserve his health should not eat until his stomach is empty of the previous food. The normal digestion of a healthy person who eats moderate foods and exercises moderately takes up to six hours. And it is good to omit one meal per week so that the stomach can desist from its work and the digestive processes will be strengthened, and it appears that this omitting is best on [Friday] the eve of Shabbat.
It is good to accustom oneself to eat pat shacharit/a morsel of bread in the morning [See Bava Matzi`a 107b].
One who wants to eat several kinds of food should first eat the laxative type and not mix this with [other] foods but pause a little between them. Similarly he should start with the light foods that are easy to digest, like poultry, before animal meat, and lamb before beef. And things that constipate, he should eat immediately after food, but should not eat much of them.
Since the beginning of digestion is in the mouth, by the grinding action of the teeth, and the mixing with saliva, one should not swallow any food without chewing, for then the digestion will be too difficult for the stomach alone.
We have already said that people are not the same in their constitution, and everyone has to choose, in accord with healers, the best foods in relation to his temperament, place and time. And as a general, behold, the early healers divided the foods into different levels. Some foods are the very, very worst and a person ought not ever eat them, such as large, salted mature fish, salted old cheese, truffles, mushrooms, salted old meat, wine straight from the wine press, and food that has been sitting until its smell has wafted about, as well as any food that has a bad or very bitter smell: behold, for the body it is like deadly poison. Some foods are bad, but are not as bad as the previous ones; therefore one ought not eat of them except just a little and after intervals of many days. One should not accustom himself to live off of them or add them to his food. Such include large fish, cheese, milk that has been sitting twenty-four hours after being milked, the meat from old oxen and mature (male) goats, barley bread, unleavened bread, cabbage, chatzir/hay/grass, onion, garlic, mustard and raddish — all these are bad foods. A man ought not eat from these except extremely little and during the rainy season; but in the sunny season he should not eat of them at all.
And there are foods that are bad but not [as bad] as the aforementioned, and they are: water fowl (goose and duck), young doves, dates, bread kneaded with oil, and fine white flour which has been fully baked until no smell of the bran remains. One ought not eat much of these.
A man should always refrain from tree fruits, and should not eat of them even in dry form; all the more so when fresh [lit. wet]. But before they are fully ripened on the tree, behold, they are like a sword to the body. And similarly, carobs are always bad. And all sour fruits are bad, and one should not eat of them except a little in the sunny season and in warm places. But figs, grapes and pomegranates are always good, whether fresh or dry; a man can eat his fill of these. Nonetheless, he should not eat them constantly, even though they are the best of all tree fruits.
Regarding drink, water is the most natural drink for man, and healthy for the body. If it is pure and clear it promotes and preserves the moisture in the body and hastens elimination of wastes. When drinking water, one should choose cool [water], which satisfies the thirst and benefits the digestion more than [water] which is not cool. But it should not be very cold, which extinguishes [a person's] natural warmth. And all the more so when he is tired and weary, he should be careful to not drink cold water, for at such time the fat of the heart is warmed up, and it is melted due to the tiredness and exertion, and the cold water can harm him enough to the point of danger, God forbid.
And even though water is good and healthy for the body, anyhow he should not drink a great deal of it. One should not drink water before eating, since it will cool the stomach and it will not digest the food properly. And also while eating he should not drink; but only a little water poured into wine. And only when the food starts to be digested should he then drink a moderate amount [of water].
And likewise one should not drink water when leaving the bathhouse, so that it should not cool the liver; and all the more so, he should not drink [cold water] inside the bathhouse. And similarly he should not drink it right after marital relations, since then the natural warmth is weakened, and it will cause the members to get cold.
Wine fortifies the natural warmth, benefits the digestion, removes the wastes, and aids the body's health, when one drinks a moderate amount. Whoever's brain is feeble should take care to avoid wine, as it compounds his weakness and fills his head with fumes.
Wine is good for the elderly, but harmful for youths, as it stimulates the natural warmth, which is like adding fire to fire. So wine should be avoided until the age of twenty-one.
It is not proper to drink wine before eating, except a little, in order to open the digestive tract; but not when hungry and not after the bathhouse and sweating, and not after toil and exertion. And while eating, one should only drink a little.
A man should never eat except when he is hungry, and never drink except when thirsty. And he should not delay his evacuation even one moment. And he should not eat until he examines himself thoroughly whether he needs to void himself.
A man should always strive for his bowels to be loose all his years, and they should be a little close to shilshul/diarrhea/runny/slimy stool. And this is a big rule in healing; as long as stool is held back or is difficult to pass, bad illnesses are coming. Therefore when a man sees that his bowels are weakened and lack expelling force, he should inquire among healers to tell him how to relax them, each person according to his temperament and age.
Translator's note: Rabbi Nachman of Breslev (Ukraine, c. 1800) opposed this view and said that on the contrary, it is better to be slightly constipated, and ideally a person should pass a stool no more than one time in two days. See Chayei Moharan #498
Moderate exertion is good for the body's health. But great exertion, as well as inactivity, harm the body.
During the hot season one should not exert himself except a little, and in the cold season one should do more. A fat person needs to exert himself more than lean person.
One who wants to keep his health needs to know the emotions (lit. movements of the nefesh/vital force) and be cautious of them. And they are things like joy, worry, anger, and fear, which are affects of one's nefesh/vital force.
And a person who does wisely will need to be happy in his portion, not worry about a world that is not his, not seek extras, and be of good spirit and moderate joy, for this is a factor in increasing one's natural warmth, digesting food, expelling wastes, and strengthening the light of the eyes and all the senses, and the mental power will be strengthened as well. However, not to make the cheer excessive — with food and drink — as the foolish do, for with excessive joviality the warmth goes out to the body's surface, one's natural warmth is melted, the heart is cooled suddenly and he dies prematurely without warning. And this will especially happen to fat-bodied people, as the natural warmth of their bodies is low, as their arteries are narrow, and the blood circulation — which is the source of heat — is slow.
Worry is the opposite of cheerfulness, and it also harms, as it cools the body, and the natural warmth gathers to the heart and brings him to death.
Anger stimulates the body heat, until it brings about a type of fever.
Fear gives rise to frigidity in the body, therefore what will happen to someone who is afraid is shivering. And when the coldness is too much, he may die.
And all the more so, one must take care to not eat when he is in anger, fear or worry, but only when in moderate joy.
Moderate sleep is good for the body's health, as his food will digest and his senses will rest. And if it happens to him, on account of illness, that he cannot sleep, he needs to eat things that induce sleep. But too much sleep causes harm, as the head will fill up with mists, for the fumes which go up from the belly to the brain will be too much, and the head will fill up with fumes, and it will inflict great injury on the body.
Likewise, a person should take care to not sleep immediately after eating, and also take care to not sleep when hungry, for when there is no sustenance in the body, the warmth will act on the waste products, giving rise to bad fumes which will go up to the brain.
When sleeping, one's headrest should be high, as it will help lower the food from the stomach's mouth, reducing the fumes which rise up to the brain.
Natural sleep occurs at night. And daytime sleep is harmful, and is not good except for those who have become accustomed to it.
The normal way to bathe is: a man goes to the bathhouse every seven days. He should not enter the bathhouse when hungry nor full, but rather when the food begins to digest. And he should wash his body with hot water, then with warm, then with lukewarm, until he rinses with cool.
Upon exiting the bathhouse he should don his clothes and cover his head well, so that cold wind should not prevail in him. Even during the sunny season he needs to be careful about this. And he should tarry, after exiting, until his nefesh/vital energy is settled, and let his body sit and the warmth leave, and afterwards eat. And if he smokes a little when leaving the bathhouse, before eating, behold, it is the very best.
A man should always try to live in a place where the air is pure and clean, in a high place and in a wide building. And if possible, in the summer he should not live in a place open to the north or the east, so as there will not be anything rotten there. And it is very good to frequently clean the house's air with good smells and incenses.
The air that is good for the body is that which is temperate, in the middle between cold and hot. And therefore every man should take care to not heat up his house too much in winter, as the ignorant do, for by excess heat many illnesses come; the Merciful One spare us. Rather, he should heat it so that he feels no chill, not heating it excessively.
To preserve one's eyesight, one should be cautious of the following things: Not to come suddenly all at once from a dark place to bright light. And if he needs to enter from a dark place to a bright place, let him open the door a little and look at that reduced light for a few seconds, and then open it more, and also look at that light for some seconds, and then open it all the way. And he should do the same when coming from a bright place to a dark place. For, change from light to darkness or from darkness to light without transition injures one's vision.
And therefore Hashem Yitbarakh in His compassion created the world with this property, that the sun shines on the earth little by little, not all at once, and likewise sets little by little. And regarding this we say the blessing, "Hame'ir la'aretz ul'darim `aleiha berachamim/Who shines light for the earth and those who dwell on it, in compassion," for he illuminates for us compassionately, little by little, and not all at once suddenly.
Reflected light from the sun — that is, when the sun shines on some place and the light comes from there — this light is harmful for eyes. Therefore one should take care to not live in a house where all the windows are only to the north, for the sun does not shine from the north, and all the light on that side is only reflected light. And similarly even if the windows are to the east, south, or west, if the sky is not visible from the windows, such as if there are high walls facing them, behold, the light that enters is only reflected light.
One should be careful to not get involved in writing, reading a book, or doing any detailed work in the twilight, and neither in the middle of the day, when the sun is strong. And likewise he should not write a great deal, read a book with small letters, or do any detailed work by candlelight at night.
Gazing too much at the color white also harms the eyes. And this is why the sky has a tekhelet [cerulean] appearance and not white, in order to not injure the eyes. And similarly, excessive gazing at something that is pure red, or at fire, is also harmful. Smoke and sulfur fumes harm as well. And also fine dust, and wind that blows against the eyes.
And also [harmful] are excessive walking and big steps, and excessive crying, as the scripture states, "Kalu vadema`ot `einai/My eyes give out from crying" [Lam. 2:11]. And worst of all is excessive intercourse; however, "Mitzvat Hashem barah, me'irat `einayim/The commandment of Hashem is pure, enlightening the eyes" [Ps. 19:9; and so in moderation it benefits the eyes].
- solet: the author made the mistake commonly made by Ashkenazic rishonim who thought solet means highly refined, fine flour; in all Talmudic sources, solet is coarse-milled wheat; semolina
This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.
Public domainPublic domainfalse
The standard Wikisource licenses apply to the original work of the contributor(s).
This work is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Public domainPublic domainfalse
This work is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which allows free use, distribution, and creation of derivatives, so long as the license is unchanged and clearly noted, and the original author is attributed.
Public domainPublic domainfalse