Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of Physicians to Gehinom

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary here

The Mishna (Kiddushin 82a) had stated: Abba Guryon of Sidon says in the name of Abba Gurya: A man should not teach his son to be a donkey driver, a camel driver, a wagon driver, a sailor, a shepherd, or a shopkeeper, for their craft is the craft of robbers. Rabbi Yehudah says in his name, Most of the donkey drivers are evil men, and most of the camel drivers are righteous. Most of the sailors are pious. The best of the physicians are destined to Gehinom, and the most righteous of the butchers is the partner of Amalek.

There are several explanations as to the meaning of the Mishna when it states that the best of the physicians are destined to Gehinom.

Rashi understands it to mean that doctors do not fear sicknesses for they eat healthily. They therefore are not humble before Hashem. There are times that they will cause someone to die. They also can refuse to heal the poor if they do not have money to pay for their services.

The Pardes Yosef writes that a doctor must visualize Gehinom opened up before him at all times, for his decisions can lead to someone’s death.

The meaning cannot be that all doctors are destined for Gehinom, for there are many examples of great Torah scholars who were also physicians. Shmuel, Rabbi Chanina, Abba Umna, the Rambam and many more were all doctors. Rather, there are two types of doctors. There are the righteous ones who know that that they can accomplish nothing without Hashem; they are merely Hashem’s agents to heal. There are others, unfortunately, who are not believers. They think that they have the power of healing in their hands. These physicians skip the blessing of “Refa’einu” in Shemoneh Esrei. Accordingly, they have only seventeen brochos in Shemoneh Esrei. This is what the Mishna means: “Tov she’b’rofim” – the numerical value of “tov” is seventeen. Those doctors that have only seventeen brochos in their Shemoneh Esrei are destined for Gehinom.