Ask The Rabbi

Doctor Do Little

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Doctors, Use of

Tim wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

In Exodus 15:26 it says "I am the Lord that heals you." How does this relate to us today? Is this a promise for us to take a hold of? I have some friends who are claiming this promise, and are refusing any kind of medical treatment. Is using a doctor not trusting G-d? Are we trusting man instead?


Dear Tim,

I have a story for you: A man swept away by a flood sees two guys approach in a rowboat. "Hop in!" they shout. "No, thanks," he says, "G-d will save me." Next, a tugboat passes by. "Climb aboard," calls the captain. Again he refuses. "G-d will save me," he says. Then the Coast Guard sends a helicopter but he refuses to board, giving the same reason. Finally, he drowns.

Up in Heaven, an angel asks why he refused help. "I wanted to rely on G-d alone," he replies. "Idiot!" says the angel. "Who do you think sent you the rowboat, the tugboat and the helicopter?"

G-d acts through the guise of doctors and medicine, just as He acts through the guise of employers to provide us with a living. Would your friends refuse to take money from their bosses, saying they'll get it directly from G-d? I think not. Do they eat food, or do they wait for G-d to miraculously inject their bloodstream with nourishing vitamins, minerals, fats and carbohydrates?

The Torah (Bible) gives explicit permission to engage in healing: If one person strikes another person, the verse says that the attacker "shall pay for his unemployment and for his medical expenses." (Exodus 21:19)

Our task is to exert the effort and then to recognize that ultimately it is G-d who heals. While seeking proper medical attention, a sick person simultaneously engages in prayer, good deeds, and introspection. We don't accept prayer as "a last resort" --it's a "first resort," along with medicine and the doctor.


 
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