Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Daf Yomi - Yoma 84 - Science or Fiction?

Daf Yomi - Yoma 84 - Science or fiction?

The Mishnah states that if one was bitten by a mad dog, we do not feed him from the dog’s liver lobe in order to heal him. Rambam explains that the rationale for this ruling is that the laws of the Torah are only suspended for cures that have a scientific rationale or have been shown by experience to be effective. One whose life is in danger can be healed through non-kosher medicine as long as it is a natural medicine. Rashi maintains that the reason we can not feed the person the dog’s liver lobe is because it is not a valid cure. The commentators wonder why one cannot heal someone on Shabbos even with a dubious remedy, as the halacha is that the laws of Shabbos are suspended in order to save a life. Shearim Mitzuyanim B’Halacha answers that Rashi’s explanation must be aligned with the opinion of the Rambam that the reason we cannot heal the person with the dog’s liver lobe is because this is not a scientific cure. Rather, this is a remedy known as a segulah, a talisman. It is noteworthy that the Chidah maintains that one is permitted to attempt to save a life with a forbidden food even if the remedy is only a segulah.