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October 24, 2013

131024 - BLOG“When training is consistently easy fitness declines. To improve you must sometimes do that which is uncomfortably hard.”- Joe Friel – Joe Friel is an endurance sports coach best known as an elite triathlon and cycling coach as well as the author.

Below is an overview of Parsha Chaya Sarah from – Sarah, Mother of the Jewish People, passes on at age 127. After mourning and eulogizing her, Avraham seeks to bury her in the Cave of Machpela. As this is the burial place of Adam and Chava, Avraham pays its owner, Ephron the Hittite, an exorbitant sum. Avraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer to find a suitable wife for his son Yitzchak, making him swear to choose a wife only from among Avraham’s family. Eliezer travels to Aram Naharaim and prays for a sign. Providentially, Rivka appears. Eliezer asks for water. Not only does she give him water, but she draws water for all 10 of his thirsty camels. (Some 140 gallons!) This extreme kindness marks her as the right wife for Yitzchak and a suitable Mother of the Jewish People. Negotiations with Rivka’s father and her brother Lavan result in her leaving with Eliezer. Yitzchak brings Rivka into his mother Sarah’s tent, marries her and loves her. He is then consoled for the loss of his mother. Avraham remarries Hagar who is renamed Ketura to indicate her improved ways. Six children are born to them. After giving them gifts, Avraham sends them to the East. Avraham passes away at the age of 175 and is buried next to Sarah in the Cave of Machpela.

Two weeks ago I bought a new TT Triathlon Bike. The Shop salesman said that if I did a triathlon the next day I would do a better time than if a rode my normal road bike. Personally I am not so sure about this. I have been really battling to keep up with my “Cycling Group” on our rides, which has been very frustrating. Everyone says you will get there, but with Shepparton 70.3 Triathlon around the corner I have lots of improvement to make.

A few weeks ago I read an excellent article in The Age by Media identity Harold Mitchell titled “After 15 flights of stairs, the only way is up with a healthy approach”[1]. Harold describes how his health declined and realised he needed to lose weight and get fitter. He said “Life is a climb, one way or another. And the truth is that we are always either going up or down. The problem is that too many of us do both at the same time.”

This week I listened to the Rich Roll Podcast, he interviewed Chef AJ. Chef AJ works as a Vegan/Raw Pastry Chef in Los Angeles and as a Keynote Speaker and Culinary Instructor all across the United States. She is author of the book, “Unprocessed – How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight”. In the Podcast she describes how as a Vegan she became addicted to certain foods and with a family who died of what she called “preventable” diseases, she realised she needed to seek help and change her diet. She went to the extreme of Plant Based/ Vegan diets and does not eat SOS (Salt, Oil & Sugar). A quote she made when asked about disease running in the family. She answered – “The genetics load’s the gun, diet and lifestyle pulls the trigger”. She goes on to explain that a change of diet and lifestyle can change the “expression” of the genes.

This week’s Parsha has the following famous words – “The lifetime of Sarah consisted of one hundred years, twenty years and seven years. These were the years of Sarah’s life. Sarah died in Kiryat Arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan.” [Genesis 23:1-2]

There are many discussions on the way Sarah’s age was said over. Today I heard a beautiful explanation by my former Chavrusah, Menachem Chanan in the name of the Ben Ish Chai[2] which inspired me to read further on what he said. Below is an explanation I read from the website[3]. Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik[4] explains further that the greatness of Sarah can be culled from the words of Rashi: “The years of Sarah’s lifetime: all were equal for the good.” [Rashi 23:1] She was 100, she was 20, and she was 7. Most people pass from one stage of their lives to the next, leaving the previous stage behind, perhaps taking with them some fond memories. Each one of these ages — 100, 20, 7 — has something unique about it. The 7-year-old has innocence; the 20-year-old has strength; the 100-year-old has wisdom. The secret of the greatness of Sarah was that throughout her entire life she was 100 and 20 and 7.

All of Sarah’s years were equal. At every point in her life, she remained the same. She was always as innocent as a 7-year-old, with the strength, determination and idealism of a 20-year-old, and always possessed the wisdom of a 100-year-old.

Rabbi Marc Angel[5] who I have quoted a few times also talks about the age of Abraham and Sarah “And Abraham was old, well stricken in years” (Bereishith 24:1). “And Abraham and Sarah were old, well stricken in years” (ba’im bayamim); literally, this means that Abraham and Sarah came in days. Rabbi Angel ends his commentary with the following – “Although the chronological aging process is automatic and beyond human control, the physiological, emotional and psychological aging processes can be influenced by human intervention. Humans can lower their physiological ages by exercising, staying fit, eating healthfully. Humans can lower their psychological/emotional ages by keeping alert mentally, by continuing to learn, by keeping focused on new goals to accomplish.

Abraham and Sara “came in days”—they dealt with each day actively and purposefully. This is an important lesson for all human beings to learn. It’s not just a question of how old you are, but of how you are old!”

We all reach plateaus in our training, need to overcome the “obstacles” of a new bike, have to reverse the years of poor eating and no exercise or recover from an addiction. To do this we need strength and determination and at the same time to stay true to our values.

To end a quote from Harold Mitchell from his article – “It’s always a bright future if we stay fit. And you know what is ahead – more stairs, and even better viewing”

[1] The Saturday Age – 17 August 2013

[2] Yosef Chaim or in Iraqi Hebrew Yoseph Ḥayyim (1 September 1832 – 30 August 1909) (Hebrew: יוסף חיים מבגדאד) was a leading hakham (Sephardic Rabbi), authority on Jewish law (Halakha) and Master Kabbalist. He is best known as author of the work on Halakha Ben Ish Ḥai (בן איש חי) (“Son of Man (who) Lives”), a collection of the laws of everyday life interspersed with mystical insights and customs, addressed to the masses and arranged by the weekly Torah portion. Rabbi Yosef Chaim came to be colloquially known by the title of this book.

[4] Joseph Ber Soloveitchik was born on February 27, 1903 in Pruzhany, then Russia (next Poland, now Belarus). He came from a rabbinical dynasty dating back some 200 years: his paternal grandfather was Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, and his great-grandfather and namesake was Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, the Beis HaLevi. His great-great-grandfather was Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (The Netziv), and his great-great-great-great grandfather was Rabbi Chaim Volozhin. His father, Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik (note different spelling of last name), preceded him as head of the RIETS rabbinical school at Yeshiva University. On his maternal line, Soloveitchik was a grandson of Rabbi Eliyahu Feinstein and his wife Guta Feinstein née Davidovitch, who in turn was a descendant of a long line of Kapulyan rabbis, and of the Tosafot Yom Tov, the Shelah, the Maharshal, and Rashi


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