Chapter 4: A list of health directives
Halacha 1: The obligation to lead a healthy lifestyle
- Being that maintaining a healthy body is part of one’s service of God as and cannot properly comprehend God and his wisdom if he is sick and weak, therefore one is required to distance himself from unhealthy habits which harm the body.
- Limiting eating and drinking to when hungry and thirsty: One is the only eat when he is hungry and wanted only drink when he is thirsty.
- Not to withhold one’s bodily needs: One is to never withhold his bodily needs to urinate Or defecate for even one moment, and as soon as he needs to do so he should do so.
Halacha 2: Eating habits
- How much to eat: One is not to eat until satiation and is to leave one quarter of his abdomen empty.
- Drinking during a meal: One is to avoid drinking water while eating unless it is mixed with wine. Once he begins digesting the food when may drink as much as he needs.
- Not to drink too much: One is not to drink too much water even after one’s food is digested.
- Checking if one needs to use the bathroom: Prior to eating, one should check to make sure that he does not need to use the bathroom.
- Exercising before eating: A person should not eat until he exercises beforehand or does some other work which releases the sweat. In general, this should be done each morning and only then should he sit to eat after his body has become heated.
- Bathing: If one bathes after the exercise prior to eating, then this is very good.
- Position of eating: One is to eat only in a sitting or lying position.
- Walking and exercise after eating: One should not walk or exercise after eating until the food has been digested. Whoever does exercise immediately after eating brings upon himself many difficult illnesses.
Halacha 4: Sleeping habits
- How much to sleep: It suffices for a person to sleep one third of the day which is eight hours.
- When to sleep: One should sleep specifically at the end of the night until close to sunrise.
- Position of sleeping: One should not sleep on his face and not on his back, but rather on his side. At the beginning of the night he should sleep on his left side and at the end of the night on his right side.
- Sleeping after eating: A person should not sleep immediately after eating and should rather wait 3 to 4 hours in between.
- Sleeping during the day: A person should not sleep during daytime.
Halacha 6: When various fruits and vegetables should be eaten
- Foods which loosen the abdomen: Foods which loosen the abdomen should only be eaten sometime prior to starting the meal and not with other foods. Such foods include grapes, dates, strawberries, peers, and lemons and cucumbers.
- Foods which constipated the abdomen: Foods which cause constipation and close the abdomen should be eaten in small amounts at the end of the meal immediately after its conclusion. Such foods include pomegranates and apples.
Halacha 7: Eating animal products
- When eating a variety of animal products a person should first eat eggs, and then poultry and then light domestic animal meat, and then heavy domestic animal.
Halacha 8: Winter foods versus summer foods
- Summer foods: In the summer a person should one should eat cold foods and not spicy foods.
- Winter foods: In the winter a person should eat hot and spicy foods as well as mustard.
- Climates: The same applies regarding different climates of the world that are hot and cold.
Halacha 9: Unhealthy foods
- Certain foods are completely unhealthy and should never be eaten these include the following foods:
- Large and salted fish
- Old and salted cheese
- old and salted meat
- unfermented wine
- food that has a bad odor
- food that is better
- All the above foods are poison to the body.
- Certain foods aren’t healthy but not as unhealthy as the above list, and therefore should only be eaten in moderation and specifically in the winter. These include the following foods:
- large fish
- milk that was milked past 24 hours
- ox meat
- barley bread
- Pumpkins may be eaten in the summer.
- Certain foods are unhealthy but not as unhealthy as the above listed foods, and therefore while they may be eaten one should not eat too much of them. These include the following foods:
- fried bread
- White bread
- fish gravy
- A person who has self-control will only eat the above foods when necessary for medicinal reasons.
Halacha 11: Eating fruits
- A person should always abstain from eating fruits of the tree whether they are dried and all the more so ripe.
- Not ripened fruits: One should especially abstain from eating unripe fruit.
- Carobs: Carobs are very unhealthy for the body.
- Sour fruits: Sour fruits are unhealthy and should only be eaten in small amounts in the summer months.
- Figs grapes and almonds are healthy for the body whether dry or fresh and may be eaten without limitation, although should not be eaten too often even though they are the best of all fruits of the tree.
- Honey and oil: Honey and oil are unhealthy for children but are healthy for the elderly especially in the winter.
- Satiation during winter versus summer: During the summer person should eat only two thirds of what he normally eats during the winter.
Halacha 13: Fighting constipation
- A person should always make sure to maintain loose bowels as one who is constipated causes great illnesses to befall him.
- Curing constipation: One who is young can cure constipation through eating pickled foods with olive oil in the morning and through drinking spinach soup. If he is elderly, then he should drink a mixture of honey and warm water each morning and only then he does meal. This regimen should be followed for 3 to 4 days until his bowels are loosened.
Halacha 14: Exercising and not being full
- One of the great rules in health is that a person who always exercises a lot and never eats to satiation is safe from illness even if he eats unhealthy foods.
Halacha 15: One who does not follow the above health directives
- A person who does not exercise, or delays going to the bathroom, or suffers from constipation, will be weak and in pain even if he eats only healthy foods.
- Overeating: Overeating is like poison to the body and is the main cause of all the illnesses.
- Majority of illnesses that come to a person either due to eating unhealthy foods, or due to overeating even healthy foods.
Halacha 16: Bathing habits
- How often: A person should only bathe in hot water once a week.
- When: A person should not bathe in approximation to eating a meal or when he is hungry but rather only after he starts digesting his food.
- The temperature of the water: The water should not be too hot that it burns the body, with exception to the head.
- After bathing in hot water one is to then bathe in warm water and then in cold water, with exception to the head which should only be bathed with hot water.
- In the winter cold water should not be used to bathe with.
- How long to stay in the water: As soon as one begins to break into a sweat he should immediately leave the bath.
- Using the bathroom: Prior to bathing a person is to check himself to see if he needs to use the bathroom. The same applies before and after eating, and before and after intercourse and before and after exercise and before and after sleeping.
- Getting dressed: As soon as one leaves the bath he is to get dressed in order so he does not catch a cold.
- One should delay doing work after taking a bath until his body calms down and it is most beneficial if he sleeps for some time prior to eating after bathing.
- Cold water: A person should not drink cold water right after a bath and if he needs a drink then he should mix it with wine or honey.
- Oil: It is very beneficial for one to smear oil on his body after a bath.
Halacha 18: Bloodletting
- A person should not blood let too often and should not do so in the winter or summer months.
- After age 50, one should not blood let.
- After bloodletting one is not to bathe or go on a journey and in general is to rest that day.
Halacha 19: Marital relations
- Semen is the energy of the body and whoever expels semen too often weakens his body and causes many illnesses to come to him.
- Semen is the strength of his body and the light of his eyes. The more often that one releases seed, the greater the corrosion of the body and the loss of [quality of] life.
- Whoever overindulges in intercourse brings old age upon himself, weakens his energy, dims his eyes, and causes bad odor to dissipate from his mouth. The hair on his beard, underarms, and feet grow in abundance, and his teeth fall out.
- Many more pains and illnesses, other than those listed above, also befall him as a result.
- The doctors and medical scientists relate that one in a 1000 dies from other illnesses, while a thousand die from overindulgence in intercourse.
- Accordingly, one must be very careful in this matter if he wants to live a healthy life, and he should only have intercourse when his body is healthy and strong, and he has natural erections which he cannot subdue and he feels his testes pulling him down and his skin is warm. In such a case it is healthy for such a person to have intercourse.
- A person should not have intercourse while he is satiated or hungry, or while he needs the bathroom, or in a standing or sitting position, or in a bathhouse or on a day of bathing or travel.
Halacha 20: A guarantee for health and long life
- Whoever follows the above health directives is guaranteed that he will not get sick throughout his days until he reaches a ripe old age. His body will remain strong and healthy throughout his life unless he was already born with compromised health, or has already followed unhealthy habits or if disease comes.
Halacha 21: Health guidelines for one who is sick
- The above health directives are only meant for the healthy, however one who was sick, or has already followed unhealthy habits, is to follow other health guidelines pertinent to him personally,
- Change of time of menstruation: A change from the pattern of menstruation is the beginning of illness.
Halacha 22: Following the above health guidelines
- Any area in which there isn’t a doctor to be found, then whether one is healthy or sick, he should follow the above health directives.
Halacha 23: Choosing a living location
- Any city which is not of the following 10 things a Torah scholar is not allowed to live in:
- a doctor
- a craftsman
- a bathhouse
- a bathroom
- drinking water
- a synagogue
- a teacher of Hebrew studies
- a scribe
- a charity collector
- a court.
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