Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Iyar 5760 - May 24, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine

Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua Hospital

The Invincible Israeli Male

This week's column is dedicated to people just like me -- closing in on mid life, and set in our ways. And while I feel this column is important, I don't expect many of my fellow males to pay much attention. After all, as the saying goes -- you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

In Israel, we have a way of ignoring things. We lift up one hand in a semi wave, and this signifies that we aren't too interested in what we are hearing -- the message is one we heard before, but we know better. In the U.S.A. we are more likely to brush things aside with a pithy remark about nagging, but here in Israel it's that uplifted hand.

As you have seen in these pages, the gedolim have recently come out strongly against smoking. In America we were bombarded with advertisements that condemn the practice, yet in Israel it is almost the minhag hamokom. Ask any of the many smokers, and they may even try to tell you how good smoking is for you. Never mind that millions die yearly from smoking-related diseases; they'll tell you that it is all a fabrication by doctors who are "against smoking." Push any further and it's the uplifted hand.

My rebbeim all believe in exercise, albeit in private. Fifteen minutes a day can make a world of a difference. Your heart, metabolism and brain, all benefit. As a result you feel better, and can learn with more strength. I think most of our men agree that it is important, but few put it into any practice other than lifting up their hand, which is not that much exercise.

Driving a car very fast and passing on the right is very "manly." Not using seatbelts for children and adults is also part of this. Seatbelts save lives. And I don't have to tell you about Israeli drivers -- they are legendary for poor driving. Yet request a taxi driver to slow down, or tell someone with ten kids horsing around in the back of a car that perhaps a seatbelt is a good idea and you are unlikely to be greeted with the most courteous response. Most likely will be the uplifted hand.

Ever try to get a male to go to the doctor? Easier, I say, to split the Red Sea. What about eating right? Numerous cups of coffee and a diet low in fruits and vegetables is not the best one for a person.

Listen, I have nothing against the frum male. After all, I consider myself a member of the club. But we men must start taking some responsibility for our lives and realize that there are those who depend on us. While we don't have to be fitness nuts and eat wild roots and berries like the goyim, we can't go to the opposite extreme either. Like my chavrusa once said to me: "Your body isn't a toy. This isn't a game." I put the challenge to you: recognize that invincibility is just a myth. Saving your own life begins yesterday.

By the way, for those who are wondering if I practice what I preach, I'll lave you will the following answer: "Write me, in care of the Yated."

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