The Sephardic Community of Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Rambam’s Principles of Health: Fruits

Rambam is not very keen on fruit comprising a major part of our diet, as he asserts:
 
A person should always avoid fruits and not eat too many of them, even when dried, surely not fresh. However before they are completely ripe, they are like swords to the body. Likewise carobs are always bad. All sour fruits are bad and one should not eat except a little of them during the summer and in the warm countries. Figs, grapes and almonds are always the best fruits whether fresh or dried. A person can eat as much as he needs of them, but he shouldn’t eat them constantly, although they are healthier than all other fruits. (Rambam, Hilchot Deot, Chapter 4, Halacha 11)

It should be noted that although Rambam suggested that fruits should not be eaten in quantities, he does recommend certain fruits such as figs, grapes and almonds; in addition he does suggest noshing on raisins and olives, and eating melon on an empty stomach. Rabbi Zulberg notes that in Rambam’s time before the invention of refrigerators, and proficient means of transport, fresh fruits were prone to spoil and this is why Rambam recommends limiting their consumption.
 
We have to keep in mind that during Rambam’s time, there were no refined sugar and junk-foods. Sweets and special treats consisted mainly of fruits in various forms. Therefore, Rambam had to warn us not to go overboard in ingesting sweets, but reserve them for special occasions. Today when sugar cookies, wafers, candies, chocolate-bars, and other refined sweets tempt us at every street-corner, turning to fruits fresh or dried as a healthy alternative is certainly recommended.

Excerpted from Safeguarding Health by Rebbetzen Chana Bracha Siegelbaum from www.breslev.co.il.

 

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