The laws of the prohibition against inflicting accidents and the mitzvah of taking care of one’s own health.
1. One of fundamental Torah mitzvos is to take a special care not to damage or bring on a danger to someone else or to himself. He, who doesn’t follow the safety rules and relies upon the Creator to save him, if emergency should happen, breaks the Torah command. The Almighty created the world full of laws and rules, and He wishes us to follow those laws and not to rely on miracles. One of the most common examples is the mitzvah to build a fence around one’s roof to prevent someone from falling off (to find out whether this command concerns your house you need to ask a knowledgeable Rabbi). Our sages forbade a number of things that can be dangerous either for physical or spiritual reasons. Let us describe some of them briefly.
- One shouldn’t eat meat and fish together. That is why, after eating fish, we rinse our mouth or eat a different food, and only afterwards we can eat meat.
- When moving out of a house, if the new tenant will also be Jewish, one shouldn’t take his Mezuzahs.
- One is forbidden to cut a fruit tree.
- One shouldn’t marry a woman, who has the same name as his mother.
- When someone dies in a house, all the water that was in that house and the houses next to it, up to the third house from each side, is spilled out. This does not apply to soup or juices – only to water.
- One is not allowed to place food under a bed. If this accidentally happens, according to some opinions the food should be thrown away.
- Sweat should not touch one’s mouth, although it doesn’t concern the sweat of one’s forehead.
- One shouldn’t sleep wearing shoes.
- One shouldn’t put on two types of clothing at the same time.
- One shouldn’t get up at once after a meal, a drink, sleep or relations. He should wait a little before getting up.
- One is forbidden to eat food that smells badly or food eaten by mice.
- One is forbidden to place money in his mouth.
- One shouldn’t walk near an unstable wall that looks dangerous, or cross an unsteady bridge.
- One shouldn’t cut food with one hand holding it in the other hand.
- One shouldn’t cross a brook, if the water reaches
his thighs. (If the tourists from
- One shouldn’t mention unlucky things, giving examples, like: “If your father died...” One shouldn’t frighten children with unclean animals (“a cat or a dog will come and take you if you do this...”)
- One shouldn’t read when there is not enough light.
2. Any decision to eat on Yom Kippur or to break Shabbos for someone in danger is made according to the doctor. How much more so, any decision about one’s health and taking care of it should be made according to the up-to-date doctors. For instance, if our doctor says that smoking is dangerous, one should try to quit smoking. Certainly, for those who are addicted, it is not a simple step, but thinking: “I don’t care what my doctor says” is inappropriate. One should try hard and at least, cut down a number of cigarettes a day. Our sages require from a righteous man some discipline in eating. One should eat not what is tasty, but what is healthy and avoid harmful types of food. Our sages advise us to refrain from overeating, on the contrary, they advise us on eating about one third of our fill. Because the satiation impulses reach our brain a little later, when we eat only a third, in the end it will turn out that this was enough. Stationary way of life is harmful to one’s health, one should be physically active. Before the meal one should move a little, but during the meal one should sit down. Right after eating, one shouldn’t do any physical labor, go bathing, go to sleep or have relations with his wife. If one feels he needs to go to the bathroom, he shouldn’t hold it. All the more so one should not eat when he needs to go to the bathroom. Mountain air is healthy, and that is why those who can afford it spend summer vacations in the mountains.
3. All safety rules, like fastening seat belts in a car, having safety exits from one’s house, etc, imposed by the state, are compulsory for us from the point of view of the Torah. He, who breaks those rules, breaks the law of Torah as well.