18 Tamuz 5779 / Sunday, July 21, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
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Hashem is Your Doctor    

Hashem is Your Doctor

People too frequently neglect the best healing mechanism available to mankind. Before you run to the doctor and chase after medications, remember who the real Healer is...


A few weeks ago, after I'd been dancing around the kitchen for half an hour, a couple of my toes started to feel pretty sore. I tried to ignore it for a couple of days, but then it started to hurt more and I realised I was avoiding putting any weight on that foot, wherever possible.

I had a look, and while everything looked OK, one of my toes felt a bit bent out of shape. I looked some more, and then I realised I had a weird-looking bump on the top of my foot. After a bit more looking and thinking, it struck me that I must have done something to a toe, or bone in my foot.
Which is when my thought process moved on to the next stage: do I go to a doctor, or not? You might think 'duh, of course you go to a doctor! Why wouldn't you???' And for a very long time, I used to think the same. But then, I started to read some of the things Rebbe Nachman said about doctors. Like: "Doctors are agents of death, and do little more. Happy is the man who avoids them and depends on G-d alone." Or: "The Rebbe often told us to avoid doctors. He said that no matter what happens, we should lift our eyes to heaven and depend on G-d alone." Or: "Just because you have to do something to try and save the patient does that mean you should hand him over to a doctor? You might as well call someone to beat the patient to death."
It's very common for these sentiments to be fudged these days: 'Oh, he was writing before they even discovered antibiotics…or vaccines…or anaesthetic…' - all of which is true. But when you're dealing with Tzadikim like Rebbe Nachman, not a single one of their words is obsolete.
So back to my foot. I decided not to go, and to ask G-d to please heal my foot for me. Then some well-meaning friends got me worried: 'Maybe you should go and get it checked out? Sometimes the bones in the foot can disintegrate (!) if they aren't looked after."
I got scared enough by that last one to go the library and look up broken toes and broken feet on the internet. I trawled through site after site, and they all pretty much said the same thing: there's nothing to do except plenty of rest and ice to bring down the swelling. In really bad foot breaks, you could end up in cast up to your hip for six weeks to help it mend - and that was it.
Mine wasn't a really bad break, so I calmed down, and realised that praying for it to heal really was the best treatment.
A couple of days' later, my husband managed to tear the ligament in the top of his little pinky finger, which meant he couldn't straighten it up. He went to a doctor neighbour for advice, and was told to go to the Emergency Room. He duly went - and came back with his arm in a half-cast almost up to his elbow. He had strict instructions to avoid getting the cast wet for six weeks, which meant he couldn't do his customary daily dunk in the mikvah.
After three days, he couldn't take it any more, and he decided that come what may, he had to find a different way of treating his finger. He took the half-cast off - and lo and behold, they doctors had shoved his finger in it completely bent. If he'd kept it on for six weeks like that, as instructed, his finger would never have straightened up.
It took him a couple of days to find a good alternative that he could take off for the mikva (and that would actually help his finger to start healing straight) - but the whole episode taught us both a big lesson about relying on doctors.
Every time my husband sees his finger now, he worries about it a bit, and asks G-d to heal it. And thank G-d, slowly slowly, it's getting better. If it was hidden in a cast for six weeks, he wouldn't worry about it all - and it would be permanently crooked.
Back to my foot: I prayed on it for a month, and while the pain went away, the bump didn't. I decided that maybe, I'd just have to live with that bump now, and that's that. Two days' ago, I was feeling my foot, and I couldn't believe what I was experiencing: the bump had completely gone. All by itself. With no help from doctors, no bandages, and not even so much as a bag of ice.
It's comforting to think that doctors can heal everything, and they themselves like to encourage us to believe that lie. But lie it is. Only G-d can really heal us. We just have to give Him a chance.
* * *
You're welcome to write Rivka Levy at rivkawritesback@gmail.com

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