Balance, Life and Simone Biles

Balance is a main principle in Judaism. Jewish tradition has always warned about living in the extremes, whether related to food (gluttony), religion (being overly righteous), the amount of time we spend at work vs Torah study, and so much more. We even have an entire body of literature based on the concept of finding balance in our personality traits called Mussar.

One of my favorite Jewish texts says that we should spend one third of our day sitting, one third of our day standing, and one third of our day reclining. I find the text both silly and profound. Who would really divide up their day like this on purpose? Yet the lesson is all about balance. I don’t think I have to tell anyone the dangers of sitting all day long, especially in these days when are sitting in front of computers so much.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of balance as I reflect on the past couple of days at the Olympics. Gymnastics has always been one of my favorite sports to watch – the grace, power, and balance of the athletes is breathtaking. And when Simone Biles, the American Gymnastics “Superhero” withdrew from the team event, the world was shocked. It was clear that, for whatever reason, this athlete was not in the right headspace to complete these dangerous skills. And they are very dangerous, as many reminded us. Simone Biles understood the connection between mental strength and physical strength, and how both must be in balance for her to compete and perform.

What an important lesson for us! Our days may not be filled with physical leaps, twists, and somersaults, but they are still filled with leaps, twists, and somersaults of a different kind.

We wish for Simone Biles, and all who are suffering, recovery of spirit and body (refuat hanefesh v’refuat haguf), as both are needed for full strength and wholeness.

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