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INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF

Kollel Iyun Hadaf

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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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1) PERMISSION FOR A DOCTOR TO HEAL

QUESTION: Rav Acha teaches that when one visits a health practitioner, he should say a short prayer: "May it be Your will... that this deed be a cure for me, may You heal me, for You are a faithful healer, Your cure is a true cure." He adds that one should say this prayer because it is improper for people to engage in medicine; rather, they should pray to Hash-m for mercy.

Abaye argues and maintains that it is permitted for a person to rely on doctors, as a Tana taught that the verse, "v'Rapo Yerapei" (Shemos 21:19), gives permission to doctors to heal.

Why would we have thought that it is not permitted for a doctor to heal a person, had the Torah not included the extra word "Yerapei"? The verse is referring to a situation in which one person causes bodily damage to another person, and the victim needs to pay a doctor to heal him. It is obvious from the verse, even without the extra word ("Yerapei"), that a person who is harmed is not expected to passively accept the fate of being wounded by another person, but he may go to a doctor to be healed!

ANSWERS:

(a) RASHI and TOSFOS in Bava Kama (85a) seem to understand that the Gemara learns from the extra word that even if a person becomes sick or bruised without human intervention, but rather as a Divine decree, it is still permissible for a doctor to heal him. We might have thought that this is a matter of faith in Hash-m, and that a person should trust that just as Hash-m brought the illness upon him, Hash-m will take it away. The verse teaches that it is not considered a lack of faith to turn to a doctor for healing (as long as he recognizes that it is ultimately Hash-m who allows the doctor to heal him; TESHUVOS HA'RASHBA 1:413).

The RAMBAN (Vayikra 26:11) indeed writes that a person with a high level of trust in Hash-m will not turn to a doctor but will ask Hash-m to heal him directly. (See following Insight.)

The Rashba adds that we learn from this verse that it is even permitted to use methods that are poorly understood and apparently superstitious in order to heal the sick, as long as they are proven to be effective. As Abaye and Rava teach in Shabbos (67a; see Insights there), anything that is done in order to heal is not a transgression of "Darchei Emori" (following the idolatrous ways of the Emorites). Accordingly, the verse is teaching that healing in such a manner does not resemble idolatry in any way. (See Insights to Berachos 10:2, where we explain that this might have been the reason why the Chachamim praised Chizkiyah for hiding the Sefer Refu'os.)

(b) The MOSHAV ZEKENIM (Shemos 21:19) explains that this Derashah is similar to the Derashah of "Shale'ach Teshalach" (Devarim 22:7; see Bava Metzia 31a and Chulin 141a), which teaches that one must send away the mother bird "even 100 times." Here, too, the verse teaches that a doctor may attempt to heal many times if previous efforts failed. We might have thought that if previous efforts failed, that is a Divine sign that Hash-m wants the person to remain ill or maimed. The verse teaches that the failed efforts should not be construed as such, and the doctor may repeatedly attempt to cure the person.

(c) RABEINU CHANANEL (cited by the Moshav Zekenim) explains that we might have thought that it is prohibited for a doctor to heal using strong medications, because the medications might adversely or mortally affect the person being treated. The verse teaches that the doctor may practice medicine to the best of his ability, as long as he is genuinely attempting to help the person. This is also the approach of the RAMBAN (in TORAS HA'ADAM, p. 41).

(d) TOSFOS HA'ROSH here cites RABEINU YAKOV of Orleans who explains that the verse is permitting a doctor to receive wages for his services. Normally one is not permitted to take money for a Mitzvah, such as for returning a lost object (see Nedarim 38b). It is permitted, however, for a doctor to take wages for his services.

(e) The TUR (beginning of YD 336) explains that the Gemara is not teaching that it is permitted for a doctor to heal, but that it is a Mitzvah for him to heal. The Gemara is teaching that one should not refrain from healing out of fear that he might accidentally harm the person he is trying to help. Rather, he should view it as a Mitzvah and he should offer his services wherever possible.

The Ramban (in Toras ha'Adam) takes this further and says that it is an obligation for a doctor to heal because of "Piku'ach Nefesh," the obligation to save a person's life. (The obligation is the doctor's when the patient wants his services. However, the patient can act with Midas Chasidus and choose not to turn to doctors for help; see following Insight.)

2) VISITING A DOCTOR

QUESTION: Rav Acha teaches that when one visits a health practitioner, he should say a short prayer: "May it be Your will... that this deed be a cure for me, may You heal me, for You are a faithful healer, Your cure is a true cure." He adds that one should say this prayer because it is improper for people to engage in medicine; rather, they should pray to Hash-m for mercy.

Abaye argues and maintains that it is permitted for a person to rely on doctors, as a Tana taught that the verse, "v'Rapo Yerapei" (Shemos 21:19), gives permission to doctors to heal.

Is it preferable for a sick person to rely exclusively on Hash-m for his healing, or to seek the help of a doctor?

ANSWER: According to Abaye, a person should not rely only on Hash-m and say that it is not good to go to doctors. Rather, Hash-m wants us to go to doctors, and therefore He gave them permission to heal, as the Tana says. However, the RAMBAN (Vayikra 26:11) writes that in the time of the Beis ha'Mikdash, it was looked down upon to go to a doctor. That is why the verse speaks negatively about Asa for going to a doctor (Divrei ha'Yamim II 16:12). This is also what the Gemara later (64a) means when it says that Rav Yosef, who was very righteous, never called a doctor to his house -- he did not rely at all on doctors (see Insights to Berachos 64:1 for other explanations). The Ramban concludes that this is the preferable way to conduct oneself, and that a person on a high enough level of trust in Hash-m will not turn to doctors. It is only because we are not on such a high level that we are unable to rely exclusively on Hash-m and we have to turn to doctors for help.

How, though, does the Ramban understand Abaye's statement, and the Tana's teaching, that we are supposed to go to doctors?

It seems that the Ramban's Gemara had the same text as the Paris Manuscript, in which Rav Acha's statement ends at "Rofeh Ne'eman Atah," and then Abaye's statement is interjected, followed by the words, "Lefi she'Ein Darkan... Ela she'Nahagu." Accordingly, it is Rav Acha who implies that it is good to go to a doctor. Abaye is saying that it is not good to go to a doctor, because it is only permitted for a doctor to heal, but not obligatory for a person to go to a doctor. On the contrary, it is best to put one's faith solely in Hash-m. (See Insights to Berachos 10:2.)

60b----------------------------------------60b

3) HASH-M DOES WONDERS -- "MAFLI LA'ASOS"

OPINIONS: In the blessing that one recites after going to the bathroom, one concludes, "Baruch Atah Hash-m, Rofei Chol Basar u'Mafli la'Asos" -- "Blessed are you, Hash-m, the Healer of all flesh, and Who does so wondrously." To what wondrous act does this refer?

(a) RASHI explains that it is wondrous that the body -- which is like a flask that is simultaneously full of air and full of holes -- can survive.

(b) The AVUDRAHAM explains that it is wondrous how the body separates the nutrients from the byproducts in food and absorbs the nutrients and expels the waste.

(c) The REMA adds that it is wondrous that the soul of man is contained within his body. The soul is spiritual and the body is physical, and the two should repel each other.

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