Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 27, 2008 / 20 Adar II 5768

Healthy perspectives

By Rabbi Berel Wein


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Investing otherwise ordinary human behavior with a sense of holiness and mission is one of the great hallmarks of a Torah life


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It is obvious that health — good health — is a commodity in life that should be most appreciated and cherished. This is true at all ages and stations in life but it becomes even more apparent and vital as one advances in years.


The prayer for one to be "healed" — to be healthy — is recited by Jews thrice daily, no matter what our age or health condition may be. The greetings that people grant each other in whatever language they may be speaking invariably are words of blessing and hope for good health.


For the human body, wondrous and complicated and exact as it is, and it certainly is all of that and more, is also very fragile and delicate. Everything must work correctly for us to feel healthy and good about ourselves. The slightest nagging pain or even relatively minor discomfort affects our mood and our creativity and sense of worth.


The professional athlete is constantly counseled and even ordered to "play hurt." But in real life it becomes a daunting task to "play hurt." And those who are blessed with good health and a pain-free existence are rarely able to completely empathize with their less fortunate colleagues. "Stop kvetching" we tell our little children when they complain and whine over some minor physical hurt. This relatively unsympathetic attitude unfortunately remains ingrained within us even when we deal with adults and more major difficulties. It is to counteract this apparently innate insensitivity to the condition and feelings of others that the Torah mandates for us the fulfillment of the value of visiting the sick — bikur cholim.


The Torah derives this component of human behavior to visit and cheer the sick from G-d's visit, so to speak, to our father Abraham after his undergoing circumcision surgery. In fact, the healing angel Refael is sent to the tent of Abraham for the express purpose of diminishing his pain and helping heal his wound. Thus visiting the sick, in terms of Jewish thought and behavior, became a Godly enterprise and not only a social nicety.


Investing otherwise ordinary human behavior with a sense of holiness and mission is one of the great hallmarks of a Torah life. Thus visiting the sick becomes a value for which one "eats the fruits thereof in this world while the principal reward for it is preserved for payment in the World to Come."


But how does visiting the sick help the sick person? The Talmud teaches us that the visit removes one-sixtieth of the sickness. By this the rabbis meant that the expression of care that the visit signifies is itself a source of encouragement and good feeling for the sick person. As such the sick person feels somewhat lightened of the burden of the sickness being suffered. There are naturally situations when no visiting should be allowed to take place and in any instance the visit should not be overly long and taxing for the sick person. Nevertheless, in most instances, care and concern expressed by the visit of others is a boon to one's health and well being.


The Talmud teaches us that sickness was relatively unknown until the time of our father Yaakov. It was then introduced according to the request of Yaakov himself in order to give one an opportunity to settle one's affairs in this world and prepare for the transition to the eternal world. Sickness therefore was not always seen as being something completely negative. It certainly allows one to fix one's thoughts and behavior on the important things in life and let loose of the pettiness that so often dominates our existence.


Sickness was also seen as a form of expiation of sins in this world. Nevertheless, our prayers on Yom Kippur ask G-d to erase and expiate our sins but not to use sickness and pain as methods to do so. All of our prayers to be spared are legitimate and justified. For many times the lack of good physical health results eventually in weaker spiritual health as well. There are many examples in Jewish history of great people who rose above their ill health and became spiritually stronger and greater.


Yet there are many instances when ill health had the completely opposite effect upon the previously pious and inspiring person. Since there cannot be any hard and fast rule regarding this matter that will fit all individuals and circumstances, our prayers to G-d for continued good health are in order and deemed necessary and justified. So let us therefore continue to wish ourselves and all those that we encounter the blessing of good health and long life.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Berel Wein --- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com Comment by clicking here.


© 2007, Rabbi Berel Wein