Torah (and Halacha) for Sick Patients
When you’re facing a health challenge, part of the difficulty is sometimes wondering, “Why did this have to happen?” It seems like it would be so much better if you, and everyone else, were able to be hale, hearty and productive all the time. Why waste time in bed or in the doctor’s office?
It may feel like a waste of your life. But with the Jewish perspective towards sickness, you’ll realize that there’s actually a great deal that one can accomplish through the sickness itself.
Jewish tradition teaches that every single person has a mission to fulfill in his lifetime. Each person’s mission is unique, and no one can accomplish what another is supposed to accomplish. For some, dealing with a health challenge is an important part of their life’s mission, and without getting sick, they would not be able to fulfill their mission in life.
How can being sick help you fulfill their mission? There are many ways for you to accomplish this. The most basic way to create something positive and beneficial through sickness is by realizing that the sickness is Hashem’s ratzon (will). When you accept Hashem’s ratzon, believing that He knows what’s best for you even when it’s difficult to see how, that is an extremely powerful merit. This awareness makes you into a better person who is closer to Hashem and more accepting of His will.
Even more than just accepting your situation as Hashem’s ratzon, you can actually turn the experience of being sick into an opportunity for growth. When your life is just fine and dandy and you have no worries at all, you might subconsciously feel like you don’t need Hashem’s help. But when you are sick, you constantly know that you need Hashem’s help to recover, regain full health, and to enjoy a good quality of life. You’re more likely to turn to Hashem through passionate prayer as you seek healing, which brings you to a closer relationship with Him.
Aside from prayer, sickness can also be an opportunity for gratitude, as you realize what a gift health and life are. This can be a catalyst for thanking Hashem and appreciating all His blessing to you, which is another way of drawing closer to Him.
Finding the spiritual meaning in your sickness in this way doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything or put in any effort to get healed. In fact, the halacha (Jewish law) for sick patients is that you must go to a doctor. This is because of the mitzvah (commandment) to safeguard your health, even though Hashem is the One Who ultimately decides whether one is healthy or not.
This halacha for sick patients also applies to pain relief. Although pain can be used to inspire you to come close to Hashem, it can also prevent you from doing mitzvos properly. So there is nothing wrong taking advantage of any pain relief available.
Jewish Healing for the Sick
Jewish Rituals for Healing
Although Jewish tradition emphasizes medical treatment, there are many segulos, or Jewish rituals for healing, that people have successfully used to gain health. You can find information on general segulos for refuah and Jewish rituals for healing here.
After beginning medical treatment and reinforcing your faith through Jewish prayers for the sick, Jewish tradition advises a sick patient to go to a tzaddik (holy person) for a bracha (blessing). Very often, the tzaddik will offer specific recommendations for healing.
These types of recommendations are individualized instructions detailing what kind of Jewish rituals for healing are best for the specific condition that a person suffers from. Some of them may seem mystical. The rituals may include using havdalah wine on dermatological conditions, saying a specific prayer, or being extra-careful to eat Melava Malka (meal that is eaten to accompany the departure of the Shabbat on Saturday night). Because these Jewish rituals for healing are individual, it’s best to undertake something specific with a tzaddik’s explicit instructions.