A colleague showed up at work a few weeks ago congested, coughing and telling us that she really wasn’t as sick as she sounded. My young neighbor, who had similar symptoms, was forced to show up at her fast-food job anyway.  Apparently the boss isn’t concerned about either her well-being or public health.

I recently heard a story that brought home the spiritual value of caring for our bodies.

The famous Rabbi Hillel was asked by his students how he was going to fulfill the sacred duty of mitzvah (doing of good/following commands).  He told them he was going to take a bath.  He said, “It is a sacred duty to care for the body, since we have been created in the divine image and likeness.”

Our culture does not support self-care. Whether we choose to neglect our own health because of our sense of responsibility to others or have self neglect imposed on us in our workplaces, we need a new paradigm that makes personal responsibility for self-care a public health issue.

Friends and lovers don’t let those we love go to work when they are sick. Being a good friend to ourselves entails the same standard.

Self-care is not optional.  It is a sacred duty.