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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5773

Ein Ayah: The Fear of Overheating

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9: 178)

Gemara:  When one leaves [a bathhouse without getting hurt], what does he say? “I thank You for saving me from the fire.”


Ein Ayah: This blessing also serves as a lesson in regard to cleansing the spirit by means of repenting and contemplating the awesomeness of the divine. A person should take a middle path and be careful not to exaggerate his spiritual approach, which can be metaphorically referred to as a burning flame. This is along the lines that great teachers of ethics have said: an overabundance of oil can extinguish the flame. When one finishes the cleansing process and has a stable mind with which to embark on a good and desirable path, he has for what to be thankful. A sign of success is that his spirit is at ease with Hashem and with man, in which case he will know how to be wise and will succeed in such a way that blessing will emerge.


Whether to Have Confidence in Medicine

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:180)


Gemara:   Rav Acha said in the name of Rav: One who goes to let blood, says: “It should be Your will, Hashem, our G-d, that this activity should be for cure, and that You should cure me, because You are the G-d who is a reliable healer, and Your healing is true. People do not know how to heal, just that they are in the practice [of attempting to do so].” Abaye said: One should not say that because we derive from the pasuk “he shall certainly heal him” (Shemot 21:19) that a doctor has permission to heal.


Ein Ayah:  Man is an organic creation. His physical parts are connected one to the other, the powers of his spirit are interconnected, and the two systems are tightly intertwined as well. Which person is so presumptuous as to claim that he knows all the workings of the body and the spirit and their connection to the world at large? There can thus be no trust in a doctor. Even if he knows how to treat one limited element of a person’s health, his actions might cause major problems in another element, thus counteracting the gains. Therefore, one cannot know what is a true cure.

On one hand, it is not logical that man will succeed in figuring out how to heal people. On the other hand, experience shows that the world of medicine is able to arrive at true conclusions and steps. Therefore, we must realize that mankind’s ability to use its intellect to arrive at medical advances is a wonder of nature and even human medical abilities must be attributed to Hashem’s allowing man to exceed his abilities. Only Hashem is the reliable healer who knows our bodies and souls, and his cures are real in that they will not cause damage in a different realm.

Abaye responded that it is incorrect to make such a statement, for we should not relate to mysteries beyond what we can see. If we did, we would not find the strength to make efforts to better ourselves in the physical or the spiritual realms, as one would have to be afraid that in so doing he might cause danger in a different realm. Rather, “a judge is to judge only according to what he sees” (Sanhedrin 6b). Since the Torah gave permission to doctors to heal, according to their fields of expertise, we should not weaken their resolve to fix the world in the way they know due to a variety of concerns. They should be encouraged by the wisdom that Hashem granted them. The development of human intellectual achievement is divinely ordained for a specific purpose, and one is to allow this development to continue as He desired.


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