Showing posts with label cure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cure. Show all posts

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Healing an Idolater

(Gittin 70) For a skin disease (moist outside and dry inside), he should take seven plump wheat stalks and roast them over a new hoe and smear himself with the oil that exudes from them. Rav Shimi bar Ashi used this remedy for a certain idolater for “something else” (leprosy), and it cured him.

Tosfos asks from the Gemora in Avodah Zarah (26b) which states that it is forbidden to heal an idolater. The Gemora rules that one may not assist an idolater woman giving birth, even for payment, for she will raise the child to serve idols!?

Tosfos answers that Rav Shimi was permitted to heal the idolater, for this would help him perfect his medical skills, and thus enable him to heal other Jews.

Tosfos in Avodah Zarah adds that Rav Shimi was not an expert practitioner at all, and he was training when he cured the idolater.

Furthermore, in cases where the idolater knows that the Jew has the ability to cure him, it would be permitted to heal him, for otherwise, it would propagate hatred from them to us.

Alternatively, there may be a distinction between a child being born, who will serve idols, and one who already worships idols.

The Geresh Yerachim asks: How was Elisha permitted to heal Naaman from his leprosy?

He answers that Elisha knew that Naaman would not serve idols any longer, and therefore, it was permitted.

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Frontwards and Backwards

The Gemora (Gittin 69) states: For blood running out of one’s nose, one should bring a Kohen whose name is Levi, and he should write the name Levi backwards.

The Tiferes Yosef explains: It is well-known in the books of Kabbalah that the alef beis written forward connotes kindness, for this way, the inspiration comes in the regular manner; descending from Heaven to earth. The alef beis written backwards connotes judgment, similar to fire, which ascends from the earth.

It is written in the Zohar that a Kohen is a man of kindness, and a Levi is one of judgment. This is why the name Levi, written backwards, signifying judgment, should be written by a Kohen, for he represents kindness.

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Ancient Cures

The Maharsha (Gittin 69) asks: The Gemora in Brochos (10b) states that Chizkiyahu hid the book of remedies and the sages praised him for this. This book contained instructions on healing various diseases through the use of different herbs and plants. Rashi explains that the sages praised him for hiding the book, because people were relying upon these remedies and they were not praying to Hashem for healing. If so, why does the Gemora record all these remedies here?

The Maharsha answers: A doctor definitely has permission to heal the sick, and he therefore has the right to know the cure for all sicknesses. However, these should not be publicized to all people, for some people will not have faith in Hashem; rather, they will rely on these natural remedies. And just as it was permitted to write down the Oral Law, for otherwise, it would be forgotten; so too, it was permitted to write down these cures, for otherwise, they would all be forgotten.

The Geresh Yerachim answers: the book of remedies that Chizkiyahu hid contained cures that were accurate and functioned for any sick person. If that would have remained in existence, people would rely only on that, and not on Hashem. However, the remedies mentioned in our Gemora do not work for every person. There are many factors that would prevent a person from being cured, even if he followed the exact instructions. Therefore, even when these remedies would be applied, one would still need to pray to Hashem in order to be healed.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Spit Out all of the Saliva

Rav Anan bar Tachlifa related (Kesuvos 61a): I was once standing in the presence of Shmuel when they brought him a dish of mushrooms, and, had he not given me to eat from it, I would have been exposed to danger.

Rav Ashi said: I was once standing before Rav Kahana when they brought him slices of turnip heads in vinegar, and, had he not given me to eat from it, I would have been exposed to danger.

Rav Papa said: Even a fragrant date may expose one to danger.

This is the general rule: Any food that has a strong aroma or an sharp taste will expose a man to danger if he is not allowed to eat from it.

The Gemora records a related incident: A Roman once said to a woman, “Will you marry me?” “No,” she replied. Thereupon, he brought some pomegranates, split them open and ate them in her presence. She kept on swallowing all the saliva that irritated her, but he did not give her any of the fruit until her body became swollen. Eventually, he said to her, “If I cure you, will you marry me?” “Yes,” she replied. He went and brought more pomegranates, split them open and ate them in her presence. He said to her, “All the saliva that irritates you, spit out at once, and again and again.” She continued doing so until something issued forth from her body in the shape of a green palm-leaf, and she recovered.

Reb Akiva Eiger (Y”D 336) writes in the name of the Maharil: The Mahari Segal told us that it is forbidden to test any of the remedies and cures mentioned in the Talmud, for we do not fully comprehend all the intricate details, and if we attempt to duplicate them and it fails to heal the sick, it will result in the mocking of our Sages. (He cites one exception that is mentioned in Meseches Shabbos.)

The Mishna Berura (617:8) cites our Gemora as a cure for one who smells the aroma of a certain food and he is unable to eat from it. He should be careful to spit out all the saliva accumulated in his mouth and he should not swallow any of it. His ruling indicates that this is not a magical remedy; but rather, it is a natural phenomenon, and it is applicable nowadays.

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