Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 18, 2006 / 18 Teves, 5766

Ethics of Being Overweight

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Being overweight in a world full of hunger


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. Is it ethical to be fat when there are so many hungry people in the world? I know that my weight loss doesn't translate directly into food for the hungry, but I do feel kind of guilty about the contrast.


A. It's saddening for me to encounter this question, because I view it partially as an extension of society's current obsession with health and body image. Obviously it is healthier to eat in moderation, but overeating is a relatively harmless indulgence and certainly not "unethical".


Some of our greatest sages were fat.


It is true that we should be sensitive not to overindulge in the actual presence of those who are deprived. In earlier times, it was even customary to give the waiter a little bit of each delicacy he serves so as not to deprive him. (1) So great is the importance of this principle that Jewish law tells us that whenever possible we should not even eat in the presence of a dead person. (2) There are also other restrictions which our Sages placed on us, even in private, in actual times of famine and shortage. (3)


But that doesn't mean that anytime there are deprived individuals anywhere it is forbidden for us to enjoy the pleasures of life. We need to exercise appropriate concern for the needy, and in any case excessive indulgence is counterproductive, but there is nothing "unethical" about eating more than is needed for sustaining life! Judaism advocates moderation, not abstinence, and most overweight people are not living a life of conspicuous excess.


It is certainly praiseworthy to eat in moderation, and the Talmud tells us that ideally we should eat and drink only to two-thirds of fullness. (4) But I wonder about a society where people ask if it is unethical to engage in excess of eating, which is in itself a constructive activity, but no one asks if it is unethical to engage in excess of television watching or other activities that endanger our spiritual health much more than overeating endangers our physical health.


SOURCES: (1) Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 169:1. (2) Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 341:1 (3) Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 240:12. (4) Babylonian Talmud Gittin 70a.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

Penalized for working swiftly
When is it a bluff?
'Rate and switch'
My paycheck is late!
Should schools cater to an elite?
All's fair in love?
Comfort and Competition
Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics