The Holiness of Our Bodies

Kedoshim: A resource for families.


Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

It is difficult in our society to have a sense of respect and acceptance for our own bodies with all their inherent differences. Women especially are often held to impossible standards when it comes to body weight. Eating disorders abound, mostly for girls, but also amongst boys. Boys and girls, men and women, become obsessive about weight and appearance, and the importance of bodily appearance can, unfortunately, overshadow other life interests and relationships. 
In this Torah portion there is a law against making gashes in one’s flesh and also against tattooing oneself. We are commanded to be holy, and one of the ways to become so is through treating the body as sacred, not permanently marring it in anyway. No matter what its size, shape or appearance, the body, just as it is, is considered holy.
When raising children  we can counteract some of society’s messages, which place so much emphasis on the body as object. Using the Torah’s concept of the body as holy, we can present an important alternative to children. By placing emphasis on caring for one’s body through healthful eating, bathing, and dressing in clean and attractive clothes, we can teach that a sense of bodily sanctity can be nurtured. We can communicate to girls or boys struggling with body image issues that they are acceptable, even holy, just as they are.

about the Torah’s concept of their body as being holy.

·    What are the best ways to take care of your body? 
·    How does bathing contribute to your sense of the holiness of our bodies?
·    How do healthy food choices contribute to your sense of the body’s holiness?

© Copyright 2011 Joyce and Fred Claar

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Dianne Cohler-Esses is the first Syrian Jewish woman to be ordained as a rabbi. She was ordained in 1995 at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is currently a freelance educator and writer, teaching and writing about a wide range of Jewish subjects. She lives in New York City with her journalist husband and their three children.

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