Skip to content

#LifeChanging

“A few things I know to be true: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Life is as beautiful as it is hard, and there is always a new hardship or challenge around the corner. I’ve often held onto my child-like demeanour in waiting for someone to hold my hand before it feels safe to cross the road. I’ve longed for the support of the crowd before signing my name on the dotted line. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

My alter-ego has jumped out of planes, leapt from bungee cords, and taken risks where the safer and expected choice would be to nap in my designated box. My take away from it all — no one will believe in you more than yourself. Don’t let the darkness snuff out your fire. Stop waiting for approval and hold on to that stubborn voice that tells you, “Burn, baby, burn.”” – Kathryn Budig[1]

Torah Parsha (Portion) Eikev in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org

In the Parshah of Eikev (“Because”), Moses continues his closing address to the children of Israel, promising them that if they will fulfill the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah, they will prosper in the Land they are about to conquer and settle in keeping with G‑d’s promise to their forefathers.

Moses also rebukes them for their failings in their first generation as a people, recalling their worship of the Golden Calf, the rebellion of Korach, the sin of the spies, their angering of G‑d at Taveirah, Massah and Kivrot Hataavah (“The Graves of Lust”). “You have been rebellious against G‑d,” he says to them, “since the day I knew you.” But he also speaks of G‑d’s forgiveness of their sins, and the Second Tablets which G‑d inscribed and gave to them following their repentance.

Their forty years in the desert, says Moses to the people, during which G‑d sustained them with daily manna from heaven, was to teach them “that man does not live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G‑d’s mouth does man live.”

Moses describes the land they are about to enter as “flowing with milk and honey,” blessed with the “seven kinds” (wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olive oil and dates), and as the place that is the focus of G‑d’s providence of His world. He commands them to destroy the idols of the land’s former masters, and to beware lest they become haughty and begin to believe that “my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.”

A key passage in our Parshah is the second chapter of the Shema, which repeats the fundamental mitzvot enumerated in the Shema’s first chapter, and describes the rewards of fulfilling G‑d’s commandments and the adverse results (famine and exile) of their neglect. It is also the source of the precept of prayer and includes a reference to the resurrection of the dead in the messianic age.

This week I decided to join some friends riding in the Dandenongs. I was a bit hesitant to join some of the A-Team riders as I am still in the process of getting back into riding, have not climbed a hill in over 3 months and definitely have not climbed nearly 1600m of hills in the Dandenongs. Brad said “Ian, we will take it easy on the climbs” I really took it easy on the climbs and enjoyed the morning riding #ProHours. Brad killed me on the last 11km climb from Montrose, but I am sure I will be stronger for the experience… There is this unbelievable feeling you get riding through the beautiful Nongs. I just love the massive trees and giant tree ferns. It is so therapeutic. It is a time to get out into the country, think and clear your mind. It is a #happyplace

Driving to the Nongs I was listening to a Podcast with Kathryn Budig. Kathryn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher and author. In the Podcast she talks about stripping for a nude photo shoot with acclaimed yoga photographer Jasper Johal[2]. In the shoot, she had to do various yoga poses. After being very nervous at the start she realised that her nude body was just a ‘meat suit’ with little appendages and talks about the experience as being her most liberating and empowering experience ever. The experience enabled her to feel totally comfortable in her body.

In Ryan Holiday’s weekly e-mail[3] this week he tells the story of French nobleman named Michel de Montaigne was given up as dead after being flung from a galloping horse in late 1569.

As his friends carried his limp and bloodied body home, Montaigne watched his own life slip away, like some dancing spirit on the “tip of his lips,” only to have it return at the last possible second.

This sublime and unusual experience marked the moment Montaigne changed his life. Within a few years, he would be one of the most famous writers in Europe. After his accident, Montaigne went on to write volumes of popular essays, serve two terms as mayor, travel internationally as a dignitary, and serve as a confidante of the king.

Ryan goes on to say the truth is we don’t need a near-death experience or a cancer-scare to tap into this energy. We can access it right now—and there is great power in doing so.

This was Kathryn’s and Montaigne’s life changing experiences. Riding in the Nong’s was not life changing, but therapeutic, so good and a time to #smelltheroses. I was trying to think of some of my own life changing experiences?

Instead of writing about my life changing experiences, I am asking us all to think about these experiences, why they were life changing and what impact have these changes had on our lives? Kathryn Budig’s new book “Aim True” is described as “..this guide is as beautiful as it is life-changing.” Recipes have been described as being life changing like the Life Changing Bread[4] (Which we have tried).

Reading a nice Dvar Torah from Rabbi Daniel Epstein[5][6]. He says that in this week’s Parsha Moshe continues his farewell address to the Jewish people. He reminds them not to trample on the “smaller ” commandments with their heel. 

Judaism is about relationships. Our relationships with each other and with G-d. Moshe instructs the people that relationships are based on the small details, the little or “smaller” things.

Rabbi Konig gives an analogy. When you go outside barefoot to take out the garbage, what hurts the most is a tiny little pebble that goes under your foot. In life we don’t trip over mountains we stumble on pebbles.

In our relationships, hopefully, we remember the big events, birthdays, anniversaries. It is the small things like writing notes to each other or knowing a person’s favourite dinner that creates a fulfilling relationship. The day to day stuff. 

The little things are the true expression of our love. This week’s Parsha contains part of the text of the Shema which we recite every day. Relationships are not all about life changing events, they are about small gestures of gratitude repeated daily so that the other person knows we care. This is what the Shema is, a few “Small” paragraphs recited daily, the real backbone of our relationship with G-d.

“There are those who say that the root of the Hebrew word for “test” (nisayon) is nes, meaning a high pole. It is the test that elevates the person.”- RABBI SHMUEL RABINOWITZ[7]

[1] http://kathrynbudig.com

[2] https://jasperphoto.myshopify.com/pages/about

[3] https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2017/08/heres-why-you-should-think-about-death-every-day/

[4] https://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/

[5] http://www.danstorah.com/eikev

[6] http://www.danstorah.com/eikev

[7] http://www.jpost.com/Not-Just-News/Parshat-Ekev-Difficulties-in-life-impetus-for-growth-466056

Advertisements

Magic-Bullet Mentality

Want the take home message? It’s far more important to listen to your body than trends. If you want to get healthier, don’t cut out whole food groups to be healthy. Simply cook more👩‍🍳. You’ll naturally eat less sugar, salt, additives… even just one or two more meals a week makes a difference.[1]” – nude_nutritionist[2] (Lyndi Cohen)

Torah Parsha (Portion) Va’etchanan in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org

Moses tells the people of Israel how he implored G‑d to allow him to enter the Land of Israel, but G‑d refused, instructing him instead to ascend a mountain and see the Promised Land.

Continuing his “review of the Torah,” Moses describes the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of the Torah, declaring them unprecedented events in human history. “Has there ever occurred this great thing, or has the likes of it ever been heard? Did ever a people hear the voice of G‑d speaking out of the midst of the fire . . . and live? . . . You were shown, to know, that the L‑rd is G‑d . . . there is none else beside Him.”

Moses predicts that in future generations the people will turn away from G‑d, worship idols, and be exiled from their land and scattered amongst the nations; but from there they will seek G‑d, and return to obey His commandments.

Our Parshah also includes a repetition of the Ten Commandments, and the verses of the Shema, which declare the fundamentals of the Jewish faith: the unity of G‑d (“Hear O Israel: the L‑rd our G‑d, the L‑rd is one”); the mitzvot to love G‑d, to study His Torah, and to bind “these words” as tefillin on our arms and heads, and inscribe them in the mezuzot affixed on the doorposts of our homes.

 

As I have often said – I am no nutritionist! I suppose you are waiting for the but….

People continuously complain that models on the catwalks are too thin, this week on TV they were complaining that companies were now using obese models and this was sending a bad message. They either too thin or obese…  Why the extremes?  Why do we always complain?

Last week running one of my buddies was talking about someone who said that he trains hard so that he can eat whatever he likes. I was thinking that this is truly crazy diet advice?

Every year I see a list of the best and worst diets for the year[3]. Sometimes I think to myself who in their right minds would try some of these diets! In the press and in marketing often diets make mention of “celebrities” using! I noticed in the Sunday Age Newspaper, in the Trends Up and Down section a trend on the UP, is Ketogenics (the high-fat, low carb diet that is a HIT with celebrities and our friend N). What do some of these celebrities know about health and nutrition? I know N  is doing a lot of research on the diet and even asked me for advice? Me……N what do I know?

Experts criticise the XXX and XXX diets, in particular, for being ‘fad diets’ that unnecessarily wipe out entire food groups. These diets perform poorly because they are too restrictive and are not easily sustainable in the long term[4].”

 Over the last few years there has been a growing trend of LOW CARB[5] diets including Atkins, Paleo, Tim Noakes’s Banting diet and now the CSIRO[6] low carb diet. While reading Tim Ferriss Book “Tools of Titans”, I was reading in a section about Charles Poliquin and something he called a “Slow Carb Diet”. This sounded brilliant. Loren and I decided to do some research on this diet. My father who had put on a lot of weight wanted to lose weight. What we found in a lot of research is that several diets were descriptive and not prescriptive, so we decided to design our own diet that was very prescriptive for my Dad. He needed all his meals, portion sizes and options set out clearly. The result was that he has lost over 12kg and is still doing the diet (well done Dad!). Loren has given the diet to others who are using it successfully. Yip, maybe there is a business in the diet….

BUT, why I am mentioning this is that there are healthy diets that make sense and the research stacks up, but then some people take some of these diets too far. They are extreme and potentially unhealthy. The Paleo diet of today differs significantly from Yuval Noah Harari’s description of a “hunter-gatherer” diet in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, where he describes that these hunter/ gatherers ate (Before agriculture and industry, humans presumably lived as hunter–gatherers: picking berry after berry off of bushes; digging up tumescent tubers; chasing mammals to the point of exhaustion; scavenging meat, fat and organs from animals that larger predators had killed; and eventually learning to fish with lines and hooks and hunt with spears, nets, bows and arrows). In it, he argues that hunters-gatherers before the arrival of agriculture had few needs and could easily satisfy themselves with what he calls “a marvellously varied diet“.

This is purely my opinion that when you read articles about a few other diets and trends, you say, what the Fxxx!

  • Protein Pacing is staggering your protein intake throughout the day, and trying to increase your daily protein intake above the daily recommended amount;
  • Ketosis is when your body reaches a state of being completely fuelled by fat. There are some benefits, but there are many side effects and it is not healthy to be in a constant state of ketosis. (There are experts on Ketosis who know MUCH more than me. This includes Dom D’Agostino[7] and Charles Poliquin[8], who I have read about, but all information I have read or listened to talks about some of the dangers.); and
  • Crazy detox diets like – Lemon Detox Diet, SkinnyMe tea, and the Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge Diet. Experts say that “…you don’t need to go on a severe detox because your body has an inbuilt detox system – the lungs, liver, and kidneys working every minute of the day[9].”; and
  • Intermittent Fasting[10] – Although some research suggests that it can be an effective way to lose weight, and although some swear by it, I discourage the practice, especially for endurance athletes. Some reasons are – It’s not normal and fat burning is overrated. In interesting research done during Ramadan – “On average, the subjects’ 5000-meter performance dropped by 5 percent between the beginning and the end of that month intermittent fasting.

I noticed a statement[11] from the first of the seven Lubavitcher Rebbes that is so true – He said, “Sometimes the long road gets you to your destination faster than the short trail, which will delay your journey.”

Then there are the diets that, may be a bit of a kick-start, but are in no ways maintainable in the longer. The worst listed diet in the diets I mentioned above is the Whole30 diet. (The Whole30 is a 30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets.) The story of the founder, Melissa Hartwig[12] is an amazing story and I have mentioned it before in a previous Blog, but the diet does not get rated very well. (She does have close to 200,000 followers on Instagram and her transformation from druggy to health nut is unbelievable)

In a Podcast with the physician, herbalist, and midwife, Dr Aviva Romm[13], that I recently listened to and really enjoyed, she gives some tips on diet and healthy living. One point that she makes is that we must “Introduce pleasure to healthy eating”. I think too many people get caught up in focussing on the fringe ideas, the wrong things and develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

“Now, make no mistake: If your current diet is very bad, you will need to make significant changes in order to achieve your health and fitness goals…… But there is never any need for more severe measures ….” – Matt Fitzgerald[14] (I think based on Matt’s book his philosophy re diet is “The Endurance Diet shares key strategies for optimal health and performance: eat everything, eat quality, eat carbohydrates, eat enough, and eat individually. Whether you want to lose weight, win a race, or look a little more like an elite athlete, this plan is for you.”)

There is so much press about radicals and extremism. There are many extreme movements on both the right and the left that we are all exposed to or read about. In all aspects of our lives there are things that we may do that are extreme. Over Tisha B’Av I was inspired by Rabbi Sendor to read the writings of the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira. A compendium of his teachings called the Eish Kodesh has been translated and commented on in a book The Holy Fire by Nehemia Polen. In this book, The Rebbe said in a speech in the Ghetto in 1939 that while a moderate degree of suffering may be of benefit to the individual’s spiritual development, excessive tribulation is beyond endurance and is unacceptable (This statement was made in the context of Sarah getting the shock on hearing about the binding of Isaac). I do not believe that EXTREME or RADICAL is and can be healthy.

The ‘best’ diet, like the best exercise, is the one you actually manage to practice and maintain,” – David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Centre.

I noticed a quote from entrepreneur Sheryl O’Loughlin, after listening to her on a Podcast[15] titled “REBBL CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin on overcoming an eating disorder, hiring smart and why Balance is BS”. Sheryl said – “Sheryl is passionate about ThinkThin’s mission to support women’s wellness and encourage Americans to abandon dieting mentality and embrace healthy living.”

‘Getting a fresh start’ isn’t the magic bullet you thought it’d be.

[1] https://www.instagram.com/p/BXChHTTnxFL/?taken-by=nude_nutritionist

[2] Lyndi Cohen is The Nude Nutritionist, a Sydney media and TV dietitian and blogger who specialises in helping people stop emotional and binge eating.

[3] https://www.popsugar.com.au/fitness/Best-Worst-Diets-2017-42937973    

[4] Read more at https://www.popsugar.com.au/fitness/Best-Worst-Diets-2017-42937973#85TKTEG38rmA6aH1.99

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-carbohydrate_diet

[6] https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Health/CSIRO-diets/CSIRO-Low-Carb-Diet-Book

[7] https://tim.blog/2016/07/06/dom-dagostino-part-2/

[8]http://main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1474/Pros_Cons_of_A_Ketogenic_DietMany_Benefits_Includi.aspx

[9] http://researchnutrition.com.au/2016/03/16/top-nutrition-experts-vote-worst-diets/

[10] Read more at http://www.triathlete.com/2016/02/nutrition/is-intermittent-fasting-a-good-idea-for-endurance-athletes_128108#mROjjO1FXE6RGOo1.99

[11] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/17099

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_Hartwig

[13] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/mbg-podcast-dr-aviva-romm

[14] https://mattfitzgerald.org

[15] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/rebbl-founder-sheryl-oloughlin-wellness-interview

Israel Observations 

“The inherent qualities the Palmach sought to in still in each recruit were starting to take shape – stamina, stoic outlook, tolerance of pain, selflessness, courage, humility, and a soldier’s honour as opposed to a fool’s pride.” -HaPalmach: The Fighters Who Gave Us Israel

Torah Parsha (Portion) Matot-Massei in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org

Moses conveys the laws governing the annulment of vows to the heads of the tribes of Israel. War is waged against Midian for their role in plotting the moral destruction of Israel, and the Torah gives a detailed account of the war spoils and how they were allocated amongst the people, the warriors, the Levites and the high priest. 

The tribes of Reuben and Gad (later joined by half of the tribe of Manasseh) ask for the lands east of the Jordan as their portion in the Promised Land, these being prime pastureland for their cattle. Moses is initially angered by the request, but subsequently agrees on the condition that they first join, and lead, in Israel’s conquest of the lands west of the Jordan.

The forty-two journeys and encampments of Israel are listed, from the Exodus to their encampment on the plains of Moab across the river from the land of Canaan. The boundaries of the Promised Land are given, and cities of refuge are designated as havens and places of exile for inadvertent murderers. The daughters of Tzelafchad marry within their own tribe of Manasseh, so that the estate which they inherit from their father should not pass to the province of another tribe.

Well, I hope I am not going to bore you, but for my Blog, I am going to share some of my observations from my recent trip to Israel. Some of brief quirky points and others may be more detailed.

I know it is not always possible, but it is truly special to share a family Simcha (Jews often use Simcha in its capacity as a Hebrew and Yiddish noun meaning festive occasion) with family. With all the crap in the world, sharing good times and being together is so important.

Noticed a new fashion trend, so many men wear shoes and no socks, even with suits. Yip… Often their pants are rolled up, maybe to show a bit of skin…

I was surprised at how many people smoke in Israel. I just say why???

Sitting on the beach, it struck me, not that I could not swim due to an abundance of jellyfish and the purple jellyfish flags, but that most people on the beach were Jewish. People who had originated from all parts of the world and all with such different backgrounds have come together to make a new home.

Besides some of the drivers, I honestly felt totally safe always. Walking around on Shabbos was such a treat seeing so many people out and about and feeling the spirit of Shabbos.

IMG_4556Israel has been shaped by the legacy of various people and ‘organisations’ (for want of a better word). It was a privilege to go to museums honouring their legacies. One of our trip highlights was visiting the Palmach Museum[i] in Tel Aviv. What stood out for me was the values of the Palmach. These values are not only applicable to the Palmach, but to us all:

  • Dedication
  • Friendships
  • Sacrifice

IMG_4662The other was a visit to the Menachem Begin[ii] heritage centre in Jerusalem. Begin epitomises what a leader should be, with a focus on what his job was and not on his own gains. Begin never strayed from his core values and principals throughout his years in politics. His core values as a leader were based on a human being’s basic needs and what he learnt from Ze’ev Jabotinsky[iii] before coming to Israel. These being:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Health
  • Education

Peace is the beauty of life, the sunshine, a child’s smile, a mother’s love, a father’s love…. all these things and more, and more” – Begin

This is slightly off the topic, but I thought I would share as I thought about it on a walk-in Ashdod. I have always been a fan of Lance Armstrong. Recently he started a Podcast called the Forward Podcast. I think the basis of the name is that in life you must move forward and he is trying to do this by doing a podcast. Israel epitomises the spirit of moving forward. Just look at the development going on… To date, he has not wanted to talk much about cycling in his Podcast and has focussed on his guests. In the book, “Peak Performance” that I have previously mentioned, the authors talk about how by giving back you can renew your interest/ avoid burnout in a sport or interest in art. They give some examples. I am sure that by doing his Podcast, Lance has reinvigorated his love for cycle racing and has started a daily TDF podcast called Stages, with insights and tips, which I have really enjoyed. Another athlete who did the same was the swimmer Anthony Ervin

FullSizeRender-2

who tied for Gold in the 2000 Olympics, he then went off the rails only to renew his interest after giving swim lessons to young kids and then went onto win a Gold at the Rio Olympics, 16 years after Sydney. Why I am mentioning Anthony is that he is in Israel for the Maccabi Games, I noticed a picture of him with one of my swimming buddies, Debbie Hilton Silver, who is also competing and set her own PB’s to get a few medals, and his autobiography ‘Chasing Water[iv]‘ which is brilliant.

Back to Lance. He describes that bike racing is a few things. I loved his analogy:

  • Running a marathon
  • Playing a game of chess
  • Driving a NASCAR (I suppose a bit of bumper bashing?)
  • Running for president

Back to Lance again. When asked several years ago, why I was a fan of Lance (I was trying to get him to come speak in Australia at a school function, before the doping scandal). I mentioned that his values tied in with the values of the school. These being:

  • Love of the land – our Love for Israel Yahadut (Judaism) and Tziyonut (Zionism), and his for Austin Texas. Lance recently visited Israel and has not stopped raving about his trip.
  • Charity and kindness – he started, the Livestrong[v] Foundation, one of the biggest IMG_4796 2cancer research charities ever set up. In Israel, I am constantly amazed by how much has been given to Israel from Diaspora Jews and what Israelis do to help each other, even in the poorest of poor areas.
  • Life-long, independent learners who pursue excellence and strive to achieve their potential – reading Lance’s books and Johann Bruyneel’s book you could see how much work and training went into being a champion. (I think that even with the use of drugs, he did up the ante on training and race preparation) People often said that Jan Ulrich was the most talented cyclist of the time, but he did not get the same results (and was also caught for doping offences). Just walking around in Israel, I am constantly amazed at how much has been achieved in Israel in its 60 years as an independent state. How the founding Zionists built such a strong and vibrant ‘first-ish‘ world country. Us as individuals need to strive to learn more about, Israel, our religion and much more to grow.

Both Loren’s sister and a friend mentioned that with all the arguing, bickering, bureaucracy and Israel’s constant threats, things do get done. She said that she felt that they get value for their rates and taxes with a well-maintained city and great facilities for young and old.

How can I not mention the food? There is nothing like an Israeli breakfast. Not to mention everything else I had to try, including some very good #LovecraftBeer.

I am currently reading Nike founder, Phil Knight’s autobiography. “Shoe Dog”. I loved this extract regarding Phil’s 1st employee’s views on running “…. Johnson believed that runners are G-d’s chosen, that running, done right, in the correct spirit and with the proper form, is a mystical exercise, no less than meditation or prayer, and thus he felt called to help runners reach their nirvana….”

On the topic of hard work and dedication, I would like to mention one of my running buddies, Len Bryer who won an age group gold in the Maccabi half marathon inIMG_4734 Jerusalem. I have watched how methodical Len has been in his training and how hard he has trained over the last year to achieve this in very tough conditions. The race was run at night to avoid the heat, but I am sure it was over 30 when they started, the course was hilly and very slippery running on the cobbles through the old city. Besides Len’s training he was the Maccabi track and field manager, so he also had to worry about the rest of his team. Also, well done to Daniel Bierenkrant on his brilliant time.

Another Quote from Phil Knight “inspiration, he learned, can come from quotidian[vi] things. Things you might eat. Or find lying around the house

I come to Jerusalem. There, the sky is blue and memory becomes clear.” –  Menachem Begin

A high point for me of a trip to Jerusalem is visiting the Kotel. I especially like to go and Daven there and often took a morning walk (or jog) to Daven there. On the way, back to my hotel, I noticed an oldish Haredi man walking fast. Not wanting to be outdone I caught up to him and made a nice friendly comment. We got into a conversation that was very special. He gave me hope and encouragement with his ‘Chizuk’, smile and sincerity. He asked personal questions and glowed with discussing my responses. It was an experience with lessons that will not be forgotten. The next day I bumped into him again. It is these “Israel” experiences that are so inspiring, but so hard to describe.

IMG_4813Watching the light show at the Jaffa Gate and on walls of the old city, depicting the celebrations of Israel regaining control of Jerusalem 50 years ago, I said to Loren with pride, “what would Jerusalem look like if this had not occurred…” 

IMG_4834.JPG

Loren and I hummed and hard about going to Yad Vashem, but decided a short visit was important. I said that I wanted to see the train carriage display in the beautiful Jerusalem forest on Mt Herzl. The carriage is in mid-air with a railway track that ends… I think that this epitomises us Jews, who at times have had no way forward and nowhere to go, but have somehow found a way through persecution and hardship to move forward and build a thriving country. A country that we can be proud to call our HOME.

 

 

 

[i] http://www.palmach.org.il/Web/English/Default.aspx

[ii] http://www.palmach.org.il/Web/English/Default.aspx

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestrong_Foundation

[iv] http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/chasing-water/

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestrong_Foundation

[vi] Quotidian – means ordinary or very common.

 

Threesome….

Torah Portion Balak in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

Balak, the king of Moab, summons the prophet Balaam to curse the people of Israel. On the way, Balaam is berated by his donkey, who sees, before Balaam does, the angel that G‑d sends to block their way. Three times, from three different vantage points, Balaam attempts to pronounce his curses; each time, blessings issue forth instead. Balaam also prophesies on the end of the days and the coming of Moshiach.

The people fall prey to the charms of the daughters of Moab, and are enticed to worship the idol Peor. When a high-ranking Israelite official publicly takes a Midianite princess into a tent, Pinchas kills them both, stopping the plague raging among the people.

Watching the Netflix program “You Me Her” about a polyamorous relationship and listening to Sharon Salzberg on the Rich Roll Podcast talking about “Love”, I was thinking how does a threesome and love fit together? I am no Esther Perel,[1] so instead of trying to answer the question, I will talk about the number 3, giving examples of things in 3. I will keep it simple, just giving examples and food for thought.

Sharon’s new book “Real Love” is broken into 3 sections:

  • Love for oneself – (not in a conceited way, but as she says for your ‘Inner sufficiency’, and self-compassion to pick ourselves up and have resilience,
  • Love for others, and
  • Love for all.

Three signifies completeness and stability, as represented by the three Patriarchs and the three pilgrimage festivals – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot (I Kings 17:21; Daniel 6:10)[2].

An interesting concept of what the future may look like, from an interview with the MD of Daimler Benz (Mercedes Benz). He said that their competitors are no longer other car companies but Tesla (obvious), Google, Apple, Amazon ‘et al’ are……  he goes on to say “There have always been the 3 constants …    Death, Taxes and CHANGE!”. I am happy to share this interview. The message is that we are going to have to change…

Last week I went to a brilliant lecture on Elie Wiesel by Rabbi Kennard. Rabbi Kennard was superb and I wish I could have taken notes or recorded it. Instead of talking about Elie’s life he spoke of lessons we can learn from his legacy. The 3 lessons and their meanings are:

  • To Act – take action; do something.
  • To Ask
    • say something in order to obtain an answer or some information.
    • say to (someone) that one wants them to do or give something.
  • To Learn – gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught

In an article[3] by LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner titled “The Three Qualities of People I Most Enjoy Working With” he lists the following characteristics:

  • dream big,
  • get sh*t done, and
  • know how to have fun.

Triathlon coach Chris Hauth talks about the Pillars of a 3-Legged stool to achieving excellence and how all 3 are needed to avoid “falling”. He says that type of excellence is going to bring us

  • greater health,
  • peace of mind and
  • happiness, and, obviously, evolve our character.

The right balance in all aspects of our lives are needed to achieve Peak Performance. He says that these fundamental 3 pillars are:

  • Athletics,
  • Professional &
  • the personnel leg.

He mentions 3’s for other aspects of health and wellbeing, these 3’s are all under our control, meaning that we decide to do them, we learn techniques to do them, and we do them, and then we benefit from them. These include:

  • sleep/recovery,
  • nutrition, and
  • integrated training. He says, “There is no “hack” for integrated training.”

Chris often talks about race preparation. He lists 3 aspects of being ready to race:

  • fit,
  • healthy, and
  • motivated.

In the Tim Ferris Podcast[4] with investor and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffmann titled – “10 Commandments for Start-up Success.” In the Podcast, they talk about the 3 ‘parts’ of Grit. These are needed to scale a start-up businesses. Reid emphasises that we must stick to this, knowing the road ahead is going to be hard. These parts are:

  • 1 part determination;
  • 1 part ingenuity; and
  • 1 part laziness – Yip! ie as he said to conserve your energy and use as a precious commodity

In an article by Rabbi Mirvis on Parsha Korach, he says that ‘great people’ are those who:

  • live selflessly for the sake of others,
  • enriching our society, and
  • are pious.

He then goes on to says to be great means:

  • being a mensch,
  • being there for the sake of others, and
  • being humble whether the world knows about you.

This kind of individual is Takeh (really a Mensch). He/she contributes and leaves a Positive Emotional Footprint:

  • on all whom he/she “touches,”
  • on his communities;
  • and on this world.

Ps – The definition of a mensch[5] is a person who is

  • decent,
  • honest and
  • upstanding.

In this week’s Parsha Bilam tries 3 times unsuccessfully to curse the Jewish people.

The message of this Torah portion is the reminder that no matter how many times in history people plotted the destruction of the Jewish people, G-d stood by our sides, and frustrated their plans. When we remain a unified nation, all working toward a common goal, but retaining individuality, and holiness, we know that no nation, no magic, no curses can harm us.

Rich Roll in his Podcast[6] with Sharon Salzberg, talks about three essential life skills and how meditation can help us master them by training our attention.

  • compassion,
  • mindfulness, &
  • concentration.

I am currently reading a book Peak Performance by Brad Sulberg and Steve Magness titled “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success.” I bought the book as I heard them on a podcast and I am navigating this OTS. The theme of their book is their formula STRESS + REST = GROWTH. The book does not only look at sports, but also looks at the arts and business. From an intellectual and creative performer perspective, they noted a not to dissimilar process to how sportsman periodise their training. The 3-step process is:

  • immersion – total engagement in their work with focus,
  • Incubation – Rest and Recovery, and
  • Insight – the “aha” moment and the emergence of new ideas and growth in their thinking.

Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences” – Eckhart Tolle

 

 

 

[1] (In a cover story, The New York Times called her the most important game changer in sexuality and relational health since Dr. Ruth.)

[2] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/608781/jewish/On-the-Meaning-of-Three.htm

 

[3] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140824235337-22330283-the-three-qualities-of-people-i-most-enjoy-working-with

[4] http://tim.blog/?s=reid+hoffman

[5] Read more at http://www.yourdictionary.com/mensch#sk87bHqfWly5e3ic.99

[6] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/sharon-salzberg/

Don’t’ forget your veggies…

A Diet shouldn’t be a short-term solution, rather an evolution into a better way of living” – Shona Vertue

Torah Parsha (Portion) Chukat in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

Moses is taught the laws of the red heifer, whose ashes purify a person who has been contaminated by contact with a dead body. 

After forty years of journeying through the desert, the people of Israel arrive in the wilderness of Zin. Miriam dies, and the people thirst for water. G‑d tells Moses to speak to a rock and command it to give water. Moses gets angry at the rebellious Israelites and strikes the stone. Water issues forth, but Moses is told by G‑d that neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land. 

Aaron dies at Hor Hahar and is succeeded in the high priesthood by his son Elazar. Venomous snakes attack the Israelite camp after yet another eruption of discontent in which the people “speak against G‑d and Moses”; G‑d tells Moses to place a brass serpent upon a high pole, and all who will gaze heavenward will be healed. The people sing a song in honour of the miraculous well that provided them water in the desert.

Moses leads the people in battles against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og (who seek to prevent Israel’s passage through their territory) and conquers their lands, which lie east of the Jordan.

Several years ago, I was working with a Biotech company who was doing research on Diabetes (I am assuming Type 2 Diabetes). As part of their Research, they had selected a sample of ‘closed communities’ from around the world to see what the impact of a change of diet has had on these communities. As I recall this change in diet from a traditional to a “Standard American or Western Diet” resulted in an increase in obesity and I am sure an increase in Diabetes.

Recently I was reading an article[1] about the Essendon FC player Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. Anthony was born and raised on the Tiwi Islands, off the coast of Darwin, into an Indigenous Australian family. He played his junior football for the Tiwi Bombers in the Northern Territory Football League before moving to Victoria at the age of 17 to better his chances of an AFL career. Anthony’s adopted mother helped him with life and footy. She said that diet is a big focus. His adopted mother said Anthony “bulked up” when he arrived in Gippsland, unused to the type of food he was eating, and the quantity. She said that he doesn’t eat bread and has pasta only once a week – (the night before a game) – and she is in regular contact to ensure he gets the sustenance that suits his metabolism.

In an interesting Talmud Tip from the Daf Yomi Cycle[2] from Bava Batra 146a titled “A Steady Diet”. The Gemara says:

Shmuel said: “A sharp change in one’s eating pattern (All week long he eats dry bread, and on the festive days he eats meat — Rashbam) is the beginning of digestive problems.”

The great Talmudic Sage and medical doctor named Shmuel explains that the verse is teaching that “a sharp change in one’s eating pattern is the beginning of digestive problems.”  therefore, even those days of “good food” are also “bad” in a sense for a poor person who is not accustomed to such feasts. He should keep in mind that a “yo-yo” change in his eating pattern is a detrimental health factor.

A quote from Dietician Susie Burrell confirms what I have said above – “… Most extreme dietary changes, especially if they involve cutting out food groups, will have consequences.”

In the last few days I have listened to a few Podcast and watched a few documentaries, and the theme has “yes” been on diet and various diets.

The points I have raised above were re-iterated in a Podcast with Dr Neal Barnard when he explained the increase in heart disease and diabetes in Japan and China with a change in Diet. The actual focus of the Podcast was on – Why we should ditch dairy? “Some foods are fattening. Others are addictive. Cheese is both…Loaded with calories, high in sodium, packing more cholesterol than steak, and sprinkled with hormones — if cheese were any worse, it would be Vaseline.” NEAL BARNARD, M.D.

If you are interested, I have listed interesting content from the last few weeks:

  1. Newspaper Article – “Vegetarian diet twice as effective for weight loss, new research shows” – The Age 18 June 17[3]
  2. The Documentary What the Health on NETFLIX[4]
  3. Rich Roll Podcast with Dr Neal Barnard MD[5] that I mentioned above
  4. MBG Podcast with Amanda Chantal Bacon, Founder of Moon Juice, On Adaptogens, Embracing The Haters + Surrendering To The Universe[6]
  5. MBG Podcast with Melissa Hartwig, Founder of Whole30 (The Whole30 is a 30-day diet that emphasises whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets.), On Addiction & How Hitting Rock Bottom Inspired an International Health Movement[7]
  6. MBG[8] and Rich Roll[9] Podcasts with John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, On Food Co-ops, Meditation, And How to Turn Setbacks into Success and John Mackey on Conscious Capitalism, building an empire & the Power of Plants to Heal and Thrive (Before the Amazon takeover offer!)
  7. I also read an article[10] on Shona Vertue and her Vertue Method, titled “The Aussie who whipped David Beckham into shape” in The Herald Sun, Stellar Magazine (so I had to buy the book). Vertue grew convinced that the key to “overall health was flexibility and strength”. On diet, she says – “For the Vertue Method, she worked with a dietitian to ensure science backed up her nutrition plans, which might come as a pleasant surprise in this dietary era of extremes. Sugar, gluten, carbs, caffeine — none of it is off limits as far as Vertue is concerned. She simply preaches moderation.” (Others like Michelle Hartwig’s ex, Dallas Hartwig, say “Relying on willpower alone to somehow eat fewer of those less healthy foods is a battle you are destined to lose… which makes “everything in moderation” a poor long-term strategy.”)
  8. MBG Podcast[11] with Lauren Handel Zander[12] on Becoming a Life Coach, The Importance of Girl Gangs, And How to Never Be Bored Again (Seriously). Not a Podcast on diet, but she does speak about diet and I really enjoyed it. Lauren says that Unlike therapists who might offer a sympathetic ear when you say you’ve had a bad day and cheated on your diet, or who may encourage you to think of yourself as a woeful victim, Lauren and her coaches will hold you accountable. If you’ve done something wrong, expect to pay with a consequence your coach and you agree on. “Once you take responsibility you become powerful, and you take control of the situation.”
  9. MBG Podcast with Hill Harper, Actor, Author & Philanthropist, On Battling Cancer—And Beating Barack Obama In Basketball[13] – In the podcast, he talks about “Freshen up your diet” and says – “… Money is meaningless without health. I realised that true wealth is a balance of physical wealth, emotional wealth, financial wealth and spiritual wealth…”
  10. An interesting article[14]THE DIRT ON CLEAN EATING” it says – “There’s no scientific definition of ‘clean eating’, but it seems to be based on healthy choices – eat plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables; reduce salt, sugar and alcohol; and eliminate processed foods. The crux of clean eating is to consume food the way nature delivered it, or as close to this as possi

One of the interesting things listening to these Podcasts was how so many people have turned their lives around, people like Rich Roll (from Overweight alcoholic to one of the fittest people on the Planet and author of The Plant Power Way), Amanda Chantal Bacon (from LSD user to Moon Juice founder) and Melissa Hartwig (from Drug addict to founder of the Whole30 diet and being the super-fit poster child for the lifestyle). I think they all had to hit rock bottom before making a change. But WHY did they have to hit rock bottom first? There is a life lesson from this week’s Parsha.

In this week’s Parsha, Chukat we read about the red heifer (a cow that has not borne a calf). I read a beautiful piece[15] on the www.aish.com website titled “The Real Seed of Greatness” – In the article, it explains how the law of the red heifer is considered to be a paradox. G-d said that anyone who’s involved in the preparation of producing the ashes from the red cow – whether he is the one who slaughters it, burns it, or collects its ashes – becomes spiritually contaminated. However, the ashes themselves can then be used to purify someone. The article says “We all engage in some sort of behaviour that we want to change. Whether it’s our unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, unproductive thoughts, destructive actions, or poor character traits – there are things we all do that we truly wish we didn’t. 

And we’ve all reached the point at some moment in our lives when one of these things gets out of hand. We just get fed up with what we’re doing, a mental line gets crossed, and we know a serious change must take place. A newfound desire to take action occurs because we see clearly that this behaviour is preventing us from living a happy life. Before the change, we first hit rock bottom in this specific area, and experienced a sense of “impurity“.” Therefore, it’s the negative behaviour itself that causes you to change. The article concludes “The ashes of the red cow are impure – just like our poor choices are. But when the discontent or outright disgust of our past behaviour becomes the strong impetus to finally take serious action, this negative behaviour now becomes the pathway for a purification of your soul…… By doing this, you will have elevated your past impure actions into one of purity.

My philosophy is that life is all about learning and growing, and that life can be a real adventure of learning, growing, compassion, and joyfulness.” – JOHN MACKEY

It has been interesting to see all these different ideas and how changes to your diet can have such a detrimental effect on you, but why do people have to hit rock-bottom before making a change. We can all learn and hopefully, our diets evolve….

I still say the overriding factor is that IF YOU CONSIDER WHAT YOU EAT, YOU WILL ALWAYS LOSE WEIGHT, NO MATTER WHAT DIET YOU ON. AND Remember to JERF (Just Eat Real Foods). Or as John Mackey says “The most important stuff is the simplest stuff. Just eat more whole plant foods – It’s not that complicated”. This point is reiterated by Sami Bloom[16] in a recent Instagram Post[17]

VEGGIES – the one thing that all diets – vegan, raw, paleo, Keto, Atkins, Mediterranean – can all agree on Base a large portion of your diet on vegetables, and I mean a large part (not a measly side) and you can’t go wrong. So slice ’em, dice ’em, roast, stir-fry, steam, blend, puree or mash them- just get them in!

 

 

[1] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/teams/essendon/foster-mum-has-been-the-driving-force-behind-anthony-mcdonaldtipungwutis-afl-success/news-story/dbe95d4286bb276d2a25ec7c9ddb3bd7

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daf_Yomi

[3] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/nutrition/vegetarian-diet-twice-as-effective-for-weightloss-new-research-shows-20170616-gwsenc.html

[4] http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com

[5] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/neal-barnard-2/

[6] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/amanda-chantal-bacon-mbg-podcast

[7] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/melissa-hartwig-interview-on-whole30-drug-addiction-divorce-and-more

[8] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/john-mackey-whole-foods-ceo-interview-on-food-co-ops-meditation-success

[9] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/john-mackey/

[10] http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/stellar/how-i-got-beckham-to-bend-it-like-never-before/news-story/3ab2df7583baa1262b1344c2aea9998b

[11] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/lauren-zander-mbg-podcast

[12] Lauren Handel Zander is a life coach, university lecturer, and public speaker.

[13] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/hill-harper-actor-author-and-philanthropist-on-battling-cancer-and-beating-barack

[14] https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/food-diet/nutrition/the-dirt-on-clean-eating?icid=U17%7CSFW%7CEDM%7CLFT%7CMEM%7CALL%7C%7CTXL%7CMEM%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7CDCE%7C512FB6B4-4014-4EC2-AA70-9F0C2F07A53F%7C

[15] http://www.aish.com/tp/b/ll/48960971.html?mobile=yes

[16] Sami, a clinical nutritionist, holistic health coach and yoga instructor based in Sydney, Australia. My own health complications prompted me to make positive life changes, revitalising my health and leading to a drastic career change to Nutritional Medicine. I believe in nourishing your life in all aspects, mind body and soul, to achieve and maintain optimal and vibrant health. I hope to guide you on your own journey by sharing my knowledge, education, experience and recipes in this holistic wellness space.

[17] https://www.instagram.com/p/BVmWG0JD3je/?taken-by=samibloom

Busyness… is an illness.

To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate shit-tons of time and energy to it. And because we all have limited time and energy, few of us ever become truly exceptional at more than one thing, if anything at all” – Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck)

Torah Portion (Parsha) Korach in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

Korach incites a mutiny challenging Moses’ leadership and the granting of the kehunah (priesthood) to Aaron. He is accompanied by Moses’ inveterate foes, Dathan and Abiram. Joining them are 250 distinguished members of the community, who offer the sacrosanct ketoret (incense) to prove their worthiness for the priesthood. The earth opens up and swallows the mutineers, and a fire consumes the ketoret-offerers.

A subsequent plague is stopped by Aaron’s offering of ketoret. Aaron’s staff miraculously blossoms and brings forth almonds, to prove that his designation as high priest is divinely ordained. 

G‑d commands that a terumah (“uplifting”) from each crop of grain, wine and oil, as well as all firstborn sheep and cattle, and other specified gifts, be given to the kohanim (priests).

Nobody is too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities” – unknown

As I have mentioned in the past, often I notice a few articles, posts or words of inspiration on the same topic. These last few weeks have been very tough with the terrible, shocking news of deaths and illness to people that we know. I have been walking around in a bit of a dwarl.

In an article in The Age by Annie Brown[1] – “Of Work-life balance and other luxuries”, Annie talks about people using busy-ness as a status symbol, and I am guessing there is no work-life balance?

Yavneh principal, Cherylyn Skewes mentioned in the school newsletter that a wise colleague spoke of “manufactured busyness”- if you aren’t busy then you need to make like you are busy to belong in the 21st century.

Rich Roll, posted an article[2] by OMID SAFI –  “The Disease of Being Busy”, the question is asked – How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?  This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

We all often get opportunities to grow and learn, but waste time or pretend to be busy. In Rabbi Frands[3] Torah Portion commentary, he says “When someone has such a limited amount of time and opportunity, one must make the best use of that time.” He goes onto to say “I was looking through some old notes of mine and I found on the back of my notes what I told one of my sons on the day he started ninth grade in Yeshiva. I told him he should try to learn sixty minutes an hour. That is the definition of a masmid [a diligent student]. A masmid is not necessarily someone who learns 18 hours a day. A masmid is someone who learns sixty minutes an hour, for however many hours a day he is able to devote to learning. Do not waste your time.”

I was recently listening to champion CROSSFIT athlete, Jason Khalipa on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. Jason talks about the AMRAP mentality. Those familiar with CrossFit would 1st know who Jason is and 2nd know that AMRAP means “as many reps as possible”, but Jason applies this to what he is doing and to life in general – What the link? He says that when you are doing reps at the gym, you don’t answer your phone. He says that when you are doing one task, then you need to focus on that and not worry about other external distractions and in life, you need to decide what is important to you and focus on these things. For him, the priorities are FAMILY, FITNESS and BUSINESS. We all get too distracted on “the CRAP” as my Mom would say, and pretending to be busy.

In an absolutely brilliant article[4] by Ryan Holiday, “28 Lessons from Great Writers, Artists And Creators On Mastering Your Craft”. I think that 2 of his lessons are applicable to this BLOG:

  • Lesson 7. Say Little, Do Much — If you are a writer, don’t be the person who tweets “I’m working on my novel.” Be too busy writing for that. Helen Simpson has “Faire et se taire” from Flaubert on a Post-it near her desk, which she translates as “Shut up and get on with it.
  • Lesson 9. Do The Deep Work — You need to develop routines and practices to arrive at that place of intense concentration and cognitive focus where real progress is made. Producing a book, that takes deep work. Developing a new insight in science or psychology—that’s the product of deep work. An easy place to start? Remove all time-sucking apps on your phone. See how much better you feel and how much more you’re able to accomplish.

I am not sure that I have the answer how we get away from this “busy mentality” and focus on the important people and things in our lives. I will share 2 ideas from articles I have shared:

  1. Marc Chernoff shares his ideas in an article[5]One Big Reason Your Life Is Harder (And Busier) Than It Has To Be”. He says:

Ready for a positive change in your life?

Join me, and let’s wake-up every morning from here on out and mindfully let our needless busyness and stress GO!

Let’s start making every moment less busy and more beneficial 

Let’s start keeping our lives ordered and our schedules under-booked. 

Let’s start creating a foundation with a soft place to land, a wide margin for error, and room to think and breathe. 

So we can pause to hear the music for a moment, and smile when the opportunity arises. 

  1. Author, OMID SAFI says “I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.”

“Here’s the thing:  Busyness is NOT a badge of honour.  There’s no honour at all in endless busyness.” – MARC CHERNOFF[6]

 To end I just took myself off to see the wonderful Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. I think this quote from Van Gogh sums up our need get away from this busyness and “smell the roses” – “it is something to be deep in the snow in winter, to be deep in yellow leaves in Autumn, to be deep in the ripe wheat in Summer, to be deep in the grass in Spring.” – Vincent Van Gogh, Nuenen, 1885

[1] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/by/Annie-Brown-hve5m

[2] https://onbeing.org/blog/the-disease-of-being-busy/

[3] https://torah.org/torah-portion/ravfrand-5777-behaaloscha/

[4] http://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2017/06/28-lessons-from-great-writers-artists-and-creators-on-mastering-your-craft/

[5] http://www.marcandangel.com/2016/02/17/your-life-is-harder-and-busier-than-it-has-to-be/

[6] http://www.marcandangel.com/2016/02/17/your-life-is-harder-and-busier-than-it-has-to-be/

We are getting older…

Don’t regret growing older, it’s a privilege denied to many” – unknown

Summary of Parsha Naso in a nutshell – www.chabad.org 

Completing the headcount of the Children of Israel taken in the Sinai Desert, a total of 8,580 Levite men between the ages of 30 and 50 are counted in a tally of those who will be doing the actual work of transporting the Tabernacle. 

G‑d communicates to Moses the law of the sotah, the wayward wife suspected of unfaithfulness to her husband. Also given is the law of the nazir, who forswears wine, lets his or her hair grow long, and is forbidden to become contaminated through contact with a dead body. Aaron and his descendants, the kohanim, are instructed on how to bless the people of Israel. 

The leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel each bring their offerings for the inauguration of the altar. Although their gifts are identical, each is brought on a different day and is individually described by the Torah.

Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

In this week’s Parsha Naso we read about the counting of the Jewish people in Sinai. There is a lesson we can learn from the fact that Moshe counted everyone – Hashem wanted to teach us here that everyone is important. No one can be too far away, too old or too insignificant, (conversely, no one is so great that he can think he is worth more, or has finished his work.)

That is the job of the Tzadikim (righteous people) or the elders in every generation; to remind us that everyone is number one and everyone counts. And even if you are in a desolate desert and the situation seems impossible, your one good deed also counts and can change it all. The Gemara in Kiddushin (30) declares that “whoever teaches his grandchild Torah is regarded as if he received the Torah from Mt Sinai……”

This is a bit of a weird blog to write as I don’t consider myself old, but a few factors have made me say – Let’s give this Blog a go and see how it turns out.

The catalyst for this blog was that I noticed on TV an advert for a new program, which I think is titled “Getting Older”, but I am not sure and I can’t find anything on Google. I thought to myself why would they make such a program?

Last Sunday evening, I bumped into my friend the Anton “the Demon” and I asked about his latest injury and he said, “Ian, we are getting old…” I have written in previous blogs about my OTS/ fatigue issues and my new restricted (and hopefully temporary) training regime. Over Shavuot I explained my condition to my training buddy Alex and he said “Ian, we getting slower as we getting older…” Last week I tried a clinical Pilates class and the physio mentioned that as we get older our muscles take longer to recover, muscle fibres reduce in number and shrink in size, causing a loss in muscle ‘mass’.

So it appears that ageing athletes are fighting an uphill battle. But for most I don’t believe the issue is ageing so much as it is detraining, misuse and disuse.” – Triathlon coach – Joe Friel

Joe Friel has written many good Blogs on this topic[1] that are worth reading, but a takeaway from this topic and something to remember about the importance of exercise as we get older:

  • At least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse; and
  • Recent studies show that fewer than one in 10 Australians over the age of 50 years do enough exercise to improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness.

The second reason for doing this Blog was an article that Loren spotted in the Sunday Herald Sun titled “Secrets of ageing well from a happy doctor”. The article is about celebrity doctor, Dr John Knight (aka Dr James Wright)[2]. He talks about his life and battles, but list his 3 secrets. These are – Help others, don’t eat sugar and stay busy. Talking about not eating sugar – he says he tells all patients to eat no sugar, to eat more vegetables and to walk for at least a half hour per day (Per an article in the Sunday Herald Sun – B+S Section – 30 min of daily walking lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer), but the doctor says that no one listens!

The third reason for this Blog, is that I am currently reading Mark Manson’s book “THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FUCK[3]. In the book, he says that as we get older, we gain experience and notice that most of these things cause us to react have little lasting impact on our lives. He goes on to say, and I love this quote “Essentially, we become more selective about the fucks we’re willing to give. This is something called ‘maturity.’ It’s nice, you should try it sometime. Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy.” He then goes on to speak about being middle aged, I suppose old age and then on our deathbed.

The Sunday Age had an article[4] titled “Swearing by it”. I loved this quote from the author of the article, Tracey Spicer – “It’s marvellous watching older woman gain power through profanity. We’ve been silenced for so long, it’s a relief to bloody well speak out.”

I noticed an interesting article in the Huffington Post[5] on Parsha Naso. I will paraphrase a few paragraphs. This does not directly relate to getting older but relates to our OLD habits. (That some people say, never die..)

“In Jewish tradition, powerful historical events like the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai are thought of not simply as one-time occurrences, but as phenomena, we celebrate by embodying the experience of the event. On Passover, we are instructed to see ourselves as if we ourselves and not just our ancestors have made and are making the journey from slavery to freedom. Similarly, on Shavuot we attempt to relive the ecstatic and transcendent Sinai experience by staying up all night studying Jewish texts, preparing ourselves for revelation anew.

After all, that excitement and intensity comes this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Naso. In some ways, this Parsha can be a bit of a letdown. We’ve just encountered the Divine and opened ourselves to Torah. Down from the mountain, we turn back to the weekly cycle only to be confronted with the mundane details of census taking, priestly duties, and extensive descriptions of sacrificial offerings brought by each tribe as part of the Temple dedication.

In some ways, Parshat Naso very much feels like “after the ecstasy, the laundry”. In Jack Kornfeld’s book by this title, he writes,

Most of us have to re-enter the marketplace to fulfil our realisation. As we come down from the mountain, we may be shocked to find how easily our old habits wait for us, like comfortable and familiar clothes. Even if our transformation is great and we feel peaceful and unshakable, some part of our return will inevitably test us.

Here we are, post-Shavuot, down from the mountain, being challenged to integrate our newfound revelation with the nitty-gritty of how many bulls, rams and oxen each tribe offered up for anointing the altar.”

The fourth reason for this Blog, is a quote I noticed on Instagram – “Growing old is a long-established habit of losing the authority to remain vital” – Guru Singh. In a subsequent post, I think he explains this “Staying young and vibrant throughout life — mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually — requires maintenance of an authority to be unique, and never give up.

To summarise – We are all getting older, but it what we do to try to keep young!

  • Keep exercising,
  • Eat healthily,
  • Helping others,
  • Focussing on the important things and not giving a f…k about the rest,
  • Remembering that old habits CAN be changed; and
  • Remaining unique.

To really end this Blog, a quote I noticed on our synagogues “The Blake Street Blurb[6]” – “You know you’re grown up when a nap is no longer a punishment, but a reward

 

[1] http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2012/08/the-aging-athlete-getting-older-getting-faster.html

[2] http://www.docwright.com.au

[3] https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck

[4] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/tracey-spicer-women-should-swear-more-to-challenge-social-norms-20170525-gwcuzr.html

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adina-allen/revelation-the-morning-after-parshat-naso-numbers-421-789_b_7471170.html

[6] http://www.blakestreet.org.au/blurb.pdf