The Rambam on Health
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- This topic has 23 replies, 14 voices, and was last updated 9 years, 11 months ago by rebdoniel.
June 19, 2013 5:36 am at 5:36 am #609720playtimeMember
Why do people follow the Rambam in Hilchos Maddah on health issues? Do they forget that the Rambam was a doctor 1000 years ago?
And when the Rambam says to take a shower once a month, do they follow that as well?
Don’t people have to understand that times change, and many things once considered indispensable to Jewish life are now in actuality completely obsolete?June 19, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am #960923yitayningwutParticipant
Where does the Rambam say to take a shower once a month?June 19, 2013 4:13 pm at 4:13 pm #960924
Rambam’s psak that a woman who refuses to make her husband’s bed, nurse his children, feed his ox, etc. ought to be compelled through use of the rod is also for a different time period.June 19, 2013 4:38 pm at 4:38 pm #960925simcha613Participant
Really? Who feeds your ox?June 20, 2013 5:41 am at 5:41 am #960926This name is already takenParticipant
I’m not married how can I feed my ox?June 20, 2013 6:00 am at 6:00 am #960927UtahMember
If you are talking about the diet they follow it because it works.
If you want a more jewish answer then they listen to it because it is Torah.June 20, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm #960928MorahRachMember
I make my husbands bed, nurse my children and feed his..oh wait we dont have an ox..do other pets count?
And by he way, my husband lost 20 pounds on the rambam diet.June 20, 2013 4:32 pm at 4:32 pm #960929yytzParticipant
Do people really follow his health advice?
I think there’s an Artscroll translation of the Kitzur which curiously, translates everything but the Kitzur’s health advice (much of which seems to be from the Rambam). I’d say that’s a subtle message that many people think such advice shouldn’t be taken seriously. I think it should be taken seriously, but it’s not the last word.
One thing I remember from the Kitzur is that it says whole wheat bread is healthier. Now we know that to be true. But it also says carob is always unhealthy, which I think there’s no scientific basis for.
Can anyone summarize the main points of Rambam’s health advice?
Here are some things I think he advises (with my comments):
1) eat only until you’re 3/4th full (probably good advice — eating until you’re completely full or overfull causes fatigue and, probably, obesity)
2) don’t eat until you’re hungry and until after you’ve done some exercise (probably good advice, with the caveat that one should eat a decent-sized meal early in the day)
3) one shouldn’t walk around or exert oneself after eating (I don’t think this is true for walking — there’s nothing wrong with walking after eating)
4) sit still or lean to the left while eating (I think there’s no scientific basis for leaning a certain way)
5) sleep eight hours a night (good advice — most people need 7-8 hours a sleep, according to recent research)
6) sleeping on one’s right side early in the night and left side later in the night (this might be codified as halacha, but I’m not sure if people follow it, and I doubt there’s a scientific basis for it)
7) his statements in favor of regular strenuous exercise (definitely good advice)
8) foods should be eaten in a certain order (meat from a small animal before a big one, certain fruits before a meal but others after a meal, etc.) (not sure about this one; some of it might be valid)June 21, 2013 6:46 am at 6:46 am #960930
A lot of the eitzot have been proven successful and correct. Walking regularly, eating mostly fruits and vegetables, reducing portions, adequate sleep, etc. are sound lifestyle and nutritional advice.June 21, 2013 3:13 pm at 3:13 pm #960931CuriosityParticipant
yytz, I don’t think you should take it upon yourself to “validate” the Rambam’s halachos. Also, there is obvious logic behind the notion of not walking immediately after eating. When you digest food your body sends blood to your stomach to help it digest. Walking around puts an additional strain on other muscles and thereby compels your body to ration out more blood to your leg muscles, as well.June 21, 2013 5:28 pm at 5:28 pm #960932yytzParticipant
Curiosity, you’re using quotation marks, but in fact I didn’t say anything about “validating” Rambam’s science. I just added some tentative personal comments.
Do you think following all of Rambam’s health advice is actually required? If not, then why not discuss whether they are in fact healthy? In general, we are not required to believe that the rishonim never erred in scientific matters (after all, dozens of rishonim, including Ramam’s son Rabbeinu Avraham, believed Chazal could err in science because they limited by the scientific knowledge of their times).
I agree with Reb Doniel that much of Rambam’s health advice is sound and we should take it seriously, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t compare it to modern scientific knowledge. Interestingly, people have noted several parallels between Rambam’s health advice and Chinese medicine.June 21, 2013 6:32 pm at 6:32 pm #960933
I beleive that a field of “Jewish complimentary medicine” can have great benefits and does share many parallels with ancient medicine. Certain wisdoms and truths are universal archetypes.June 21, 2013 8:15 pm at 8:15 pm #960934jewishfeminist02Member
Actually, the Rambam says that all fresh fruits (especially citrus) are unhealthy, with the exception of figs and grapes (Hilchos Deos 4:11). In the “particularly unhealthy” category are vegetables and legumes like lentils, cabbage, leeks, onions and radishes. (Ibid, 4:9). I’m sure one can live a healthy life without these foods, but it’s hard to imagine them being sufficiently unhealthy to cut out of one’s diet.
Credit goes to my husband for finding these sources.June 23, 2013 4:30 pm at 4:30 pm #960935CuriosityParticipant
yytz- See your last word on the post I responded to. I just found your choice of phrasing a bit offensive.June 23, 2013 6:30 pm at 6:30 pm #960936Seek emesMember
message for “playtime”: You found it difficult to follow medical practices of “1000 years ago”. Let me ask you, do you wear tefillin, or light Shabbos candles? If so, why? People did that 1000 years ago. The answer is because it’s daas Torah. If you don’t wear tefillin or light Shabbos candles, then that’s a different conversation. But if you do, then the fact that something was done 1000 years ago should not bother you at all. A different question might be, if the same medical practices of the time of the Rambam also apply to our generation, or to different generations, that those of his time. That answer is also to be found in daas Torah. If you seek emes ( the truth), then you’ll get the answer you’re looking for. If you don’t have real questions, then I don’t see how you’ll get real answers.June 24, 2013 7:51 am at 7:51 am #960937
There is a reason why we take the scientific and medical eitzot of Hazal and Rambam with a grain of salt nowadays; they relied on the faulty and limited scientific evidence of their time and Rambam’s health advice has absolutely no binding halakhic status.June 24, 2013 1:56 pm at 1:56 pm #960938Sam2Participant
Seek emes: I don’t know if it’s actually Apikorsus or not, but there is something incredibly, incredibly wrong if you have the same reason for putting on Tefillin and never eating cherries.June 24, 2013 3:10 pm at 3:10 pm #960939playtimeMember
You’re not supposed to eat cherries while you’re wearing tefillin, for the same reason.June 24, 2013 3:58 pm at 3:58 pm #960940pou_bearMember
Is there a sefer that discusses the Rambams diet and way of living?June 24, 2013 4:14 pm at 4:14 pm #960941
An English book came out based on those principles, “The Life Transforming Diet.”
The idea that one should eat meals that are mostly veggies, reserve meat and even refined carbs for special occasions, and incorporate moderate exercise into their lives is basically the gist of it.June 24, 2013 4:56 pm at 4:56 pm #960942pou_bearMember
Any books written from a Jewish point of view?June 24, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm #960943
It’s published by one of the yeshivish publishing companies. How would a book based on Rambam’s medical advice not be considered Jewish?June 25, 2013 1:49 am at 1:49 am #960944yehudayonaParticipant
Feldheim, to be specific.June 25, 2013 2:19 am at 2:19 am #960945
I’d venture to say that if he were alive today, his views would have evolved even more in line with the knowledge of what we have.
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