The seventeenth topic in the Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment, Guard Yourselves Very Well!
The Jewish tradition places a strong value on being healthy. The Torah states, “Guard yourself and guard your soul very much" and “You shall guard yourselves very well." The Jewish Sages explain that these verses refer to the mitzvah (commandment) of protecting one’s physical body and health.
There are very many applications of this mitzvah to guard our health. Jewish law employs a term– Ba’al Nefesh Yachmir, or “A master of the spirit will be stringent”– when a sage senses a cause for concern but does not find it appropriate to forbid something to the public. One relevant item for all of us and our families is the reduction of exposure to chemicals such as pesticides.