Two Are Better Than One

Valentine cookies

Valentine’s Day is not a holiday celebrated by many Jewish people simply because its origins are in the Catholic tradition. My wife and I jokingly call February 14 “The Day We Don’t Celebrate,” but we still go out of our way to express our love through little gifts and a nice meal. Today was no exception. The message (at least as it has evolved over time) is universal; love is a powerful force for good in our lives and in our world. It does not matter what your background, this is a message that resonates.

Love has many health benefits as well. I will not get medical here, but rather point to the fact that when two people come together (romantically or otherwise), something special often happens. What do I mean by “otherwise?” We all know friends or co-workers whose presence in our lives makes a difference; they are a comfort to us when we are down, cheerleaders when we are discouraged, celebrators when things are going well. There are many ways to commit to others in a loving way that does not involved physical intimacy.

This is a blog about fitness, so I do want to mention that teamwork can make a tremendous difference in reaching one’s health goals. I know of many people who regularly go to the gym with a partner so that they keep each other motivated and on track. I have a friend I have known since my freshman year of high school; even though we do not live in the same city, we work out on Zoom three times a week. He keeps me motivated and I do the same for him; we rarely cancel a workout because we do not want to let the other person down. I am also fortunate that my wife shares many of the goals that I have around caring for ourselves; recently we made a promise to each other to be more mindful about what we eat (and how much!). It is so much easier to do this when we are both in it together.

If we are having a hard time reaching our goals–fitness or otherwise–it is a good idea to ask: “who can help me to achieve this?” Reaching out usually helps us, but also helps the other person as well. It is more fun to have a partner in the endeavor and the chances of success are greater.

On this Valentine’s Day (The Day We Don’t Celebrate), I encourage you to think not only of a romantic love partner, but also the people near and far who have shared their love with you. Do more than just think about it, though; act in ways that demonstrate how much they mean to you. It can be flowers, candies, or a gift, but it can also be a commitment to working as one to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Wishing you all the best in health, fitness, and love!

What do You Bring to the Tabernacle?

Image result for tabernacle wilderness

Parashat Terumah contains the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness–the structure that would serve as a place of worship for the Israelites in their wanderings.

Rather than narrative–which is what we are used to up to this point–the Torah portion reads like an IKEA instruction manual.  It is quite specific and we don’t really know if there is any spiritual significance behind the various specifications.

What is apparent is that the work needed in order to complete the Tabernacle and its furnishings required a fair amount of expertise in various fields:  construction, woodworking, creating fabrics, treating leather, etc.  Midrashim have pointed out that the many tasks needed to bring the Tabernacle into existence meant that there was something for everyone to do, and that each individual could contribute in an area where they had competence.

This is a prime example of teamwork.  Not everyone can be a quarterback or a pitcher, but everyone working together can reach the goal.  This is no less true today in our Jewish community and in society.  Each of us brings our own special interests, skills and experiences.  None of us is a Jack-of-all-trades.  Together, however, we can build something beautiful in which not only will we feel pride and comfort, but where God will feel welcome as well.