Mr. Israel, a Yeshiva Bachor


lift.jpgMordechai Buchnik, 21, is an avreich in yeshiva and yet he holds the title Mr. Israel 2008 in the youth division in bodybuilding. It is not easy admits Mordechai, who splits his day between learning in Yeshiva Darchei Chaim and working out in Jerusalem’s Kosher Gym.

Mordechai explained that once upon a time, going to a gym to workout was prohibited in the chareidi community, but today, this is not so, stating he began working out at age 14 and starting in a gym at age 17. He was unwilling to choose between learning and working out, so he found a yeshiva that would accept him, knowing he spends hours a day in the Kosher Gym, which caters to the chareidi community.

He admits there are problems, and he knows many competitions are closed to him because they are held on Shabbos. To his knowledge, he is the only one among his colleagues in Kosher Gym who takes part in bodybuilding competitions.

David Malki, 35, the manager of the gym, explains he feels a mission too, to give the chareidi community a chance to work out and stay in shape. Malki, married with five children, is a five-time Israeli champion in taekwondo. “As a member of the chareidi community, I felt the need to do something to permit our community to unload the stresses of day-to-day life without being exposed to unacceptable surroundings.”

Malki explains the background music is never a women’s voice, there are no televisions, and the cafeteria is mehadrin in addition to offering a minyan for mincha and maariv daily.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. Why would going to a gym be a shailoh (as long as it was single-gender, no treff entertainment, people dressed modestly, etc.)? Since gyms are indoors there are far fewer issues than outdoor sports. Of all sports, weight lifting seems to raise the fewest shailohs.

  2. I totally don’t want to pass judgement, but do working out for “hours a day” and taking part in bodybuilding competitions really fit with Torah lifestyle? Sounds a tad bit Greek to me…

  3. BREAKING NEWS!!! First opened minded article on YWN. Yasher Koach to YWN and Mordechai. You’re using your talent that HaKodesh Baruch Hu gave you and Learning. KUDOS to you for being an Emesdik Yid. V’nafochu finally not the same old Yeshivish blurbs.
    Let’s see more of these types of articles and perhaps we’ll have our children not feeling awkward and un-yeshivish by doing what they are gifted with in appropriate ways. DERECH ERETZ IM TORAH. MOSIACH MAY JUST BE EN-ROUTE!

  4. I’m wondering if our avreich had to pose in some competition to win this esteemed title. He’s a yeshiva bachur and Jackie Mason is a rabbi. A disgraceful chililashem. This article’s a disgrace and in very bad taste. The yivanim would be proud.

  5. “Why would going to a gym be a shailoh? ”

    B”H you are still insulated from the ugly reality of the Haredi World’s thought police in Eretz Yisroel.


    not sports, not, reading any books that are not kodesh, not training for earning a living, and not earning a living either.

    Only schnorring is mutar when not in the beis medrash.

  6. REACTION i like how you equate opennidness with confering with your world veiw just to stay “openminded” I would like to put forth the torahs veiw as it was passed down from teacher to student until it reached me any exersise to the end of maintaing your health is included in vinnishmartm moed lenafshosachem anything past this point is a reshus (assuming it has no adverse health affects wich some say body building does have in wich case it is assur like smoking) like all reshusim every person must use their own judgement to decide when how and were it is apropiate (a rav may be cunsulted)

  7. Amazes me how many of the people who comment stand in judgement of others (#5,6,9,10)- remember a very good goyishe saying – people in glass houses should not throw stones.

  8. # 10 writes “Yeshiva World News? More like Yevanim World News. The sad part is that most people agree with it.” I couldn’t asay it any better!!

  9. For this we need to spend our time? Go exercise because it is healthy and not make it a pre-occupying habit. I only hope his parents kvell.

  10. Good for him. If that is a particular inclination he allows himself to indulge in, better than buying than saying a personal break from study is buying up scratch-off tickets or smoking cigarettes. There was a time, in my understanding, where back in the day, Talmidim were not only physically fit, but adept at self defense, too.

  11. Imagine that this kid were at risk, or formerly at risk, and now adding a hefty amount of learning to his previous schedule. We’d be all over him! B”H he has an anchor in his life, people who validate him, this is body-building, not boxing…

    My wish for him is, that when he does reach a point when he’ll have to start cutting down his body-building/exercise due to other obligations he will maintain his overall health.

  12. My nephew goes to tae kwon do lessons in Israel while in Yeshiva, this keeps him steady and on the right path, if not for this extra curricular activity he’d have been out there with all the rest of the bums. Now he wants to be a physiotherapist, he actually has direction in life now together with yiddishkeit, beard and peyos and all.

  13. to # 12 you mentioned self defense back in the old days. Eli Teitelbaum A’H as most people know,was very profecient in judo,and concerning myself,I got my Black Belt in Japanese Karate back in 1982. AND it did not affect my learning nor was it bitul zaman. Some of the yeshivish comments made here are mind boggling. As the other commentator Dinkins # 13 said everything is ASSUR,that includes making a parnassah,so your 8 month pregnant wife doesnt have to shlep to work every day. To get 22 comments on this shtus is incredible.Some of you really have to get a life.

  14. to all those who think this is positive: in order to participate in the contest he had to strip down to his gatchges, and flaunt his body. that has nothing to do with good health. it is just goyish!

  15. A Yeshiva Bochur does not strip down to shorts or a thong and flex his muscles and flaunt his body in a body competition.

    This has nothing to do with only exercizing in a men’s-only gym for a short time daily to keep healthy.

  16. If “Mr. Israel” is reading this, I hope that he is crying, not laughing. This is not a matter of people picking fights with those whose hashkafos they disagree with. This is a matter of preventing a Chillul Hashem. A Yeshiva Bochur, who sits and learns Torah, does not strip down to shorts or a thong and flex his muscles and flaunt his body in a body competition.