By Rabbi Levi Brackman
Judaism is meant to add demonstrable benefit and value to the life of the individual. Health & Wellness Judaism acts to operationalize that contention. The great medieval philosopher and jurist Maimonides says that each of the rituals of the Torah must offer a direct utility and practical benefit to the individual who carries out that activity. As the Torah says time and again: these practices are offered in order that it should benefit us.
Thus, we believe, as Maimonides did, that within the Torah are a set of practices that are ultimately to the practical (not just spiritual) benefit of the practitioner.
Currently we are unable to clearly demonstrate the benefits of each and every one of the practices of Judaism, yet, thanks to modern social science research there are many practices that easily lend themselves to demonstrably beneficial results in terms of health and wellness. Health & Wellness Judaism focuses on those practices that we can prove have a positive impact on the individual's health and wellness.
To be sure, this does not mean that we think other practices are unimportant. It is just that as a community we highlight and focus on those that can currently be demonstrated scientifically as having real value and benefit.
Shabbat is a prime example.
There is a lot of evidence that taking a weekly technology fast has a positive impact on health and wellness. Data overwhelmingly shows that a regular mindfulness practice has massive positive impact on the human condition. Spending time with family and community has also been shown to add positively to well-being. Shabbat offers all of these things and more. We therefore focus on Shabbat, but specifically the aspects of the day that will add real wellness outcomes. This is why we have added mindfulness practices with a professional mindfulness trainer to our Shabbat Experience.
There are other aspects of Judaism that add to health and wellness. Having good neighbors, being truthful, being conscious of what we eat (Kashrut) are but a few. With Health & Wellness Judaism we make sure to study Torah using the prism of well-being and healthiness. Thus, each week we study the portion and compare its practices with cutting edge social science research to show how the two really dovetail with each other.
Ultimately we believe the the Torah was designed as a Divine guidebook for a healthy, thriving and flourishing life. Judaism was always meant to offer the practitioner real and quantifiable value. Living a life of health, well-being and thriving is therefore living a Godly life. This we believe is where science and religion really complement each other. This is therefore the proposition we offer, a Judaism that is science based and progressive, yet at the same time also authentic and traditional.
We hope that you will take an opportunity to join us and try it out.