A student once saw the great sage Hillel leaving his academy. He approached the sage and asked him where he was going. “I am going to do a Mitzva for someone poor and forsaken,” Hillel answered. Noting his students bewilderment, he then explained, “I am going to feed my body, it is totally dependent upon me to look after it.”
Hillel and his school of philosophy taught that just like when someone gives us an object for safekeeping, clearly we have a responsibility to look after it and cannot be derelict in its care. Likewise, our bodies have been entrusted to us and we have a full obligation to take proper care of them.
Too many of us violate this trust by taking unnecessary risks or doing things which are detrimental to our bodies, such as smoking, overeating or abusing alcohol and drugs both legal and illegal. The harmful effects of which are plain and obvious to see.
The great Maggid observed one of his followers who looked lean and weak. Upon inquiring, he learned that this man was fasting frequently to atone for his sins. The rabbi told him, “First, you set out to ruin your soul, and having achieved this, you are now out to ruin your body as well!”