Lucille G. Maloney wrote:
Prior to the dedication of the holocaust museum, there was an exhibition in Washington of items confiscated by the Nazis. Among them were a number of implements used for foot care of the sick or elderly. Apparently there was some custom of taking care of the feet of those unable to care for themselves. Could you give me more information about this practice? Thank you.
Dear Lucille G. Maloney,
Caring for the sick is certainly a mitzva. Regarding foot care for the sick, I'm not aware of any particular Jewish customs, and I'm not familiar with the items you mention.
We Jews do make a special daily blessing that thanks God "for giving me all my needs," and our commentaries explain that this especially refers to one's shoes! Why are the shoes called "all our needs?" The shoes allow a person to go out and thus interface with the world at large, and thereby acheive all his other physical and social needs.
More than one holocaust survivor has reported that breaking a shoelace in the concentration camps was like a death sentence, because the shoes would not stay on. A person could survive barefoot during forced marches and slave labor for only a few weeks, at most.
So, feet are certainly something to take care of, and to be thankful for.