Are we putting our faith in the Al-mighty, or in the doctor?
Adam is an observant Jew. I asked him if he believed in G-d, and he told me: sure, he does. I asked him if he believes in the Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith, the first one of which states G-d did, does and will do everything. He started to look a bit puzzled and cagey, and kind of nodded OK.
Then, I asked him why his back is hurting him so much. He explained that two of his disks had worn away, and were grinding against each other, and he needed to lose some weight if wanted to avoid surgery.
OK, that's the technical explanation of what appears to be causing the pain in Adam's back. But who's really behind it? And why is it happening?
Adam again gave me a mystified, half-angry look, and told me he had no idea what I was talking about.
So I explained to him: G-d. G-d is behind your back pain. Ein Od Milvado, there is only Him. Hashem is giving you back pain because He's trying to start a conversation with you. If you take up the invitation, and include G-d in your back pain, I'm sure you'll find a way to ameliorate it without needing to go under the knife or pop Codeine for the rest of your life.
For example, lower back pain is often associated with very deep-seated fundamental worries about survival issues, including making a living, or repressed, painful emotional traumas from childhood. Spiritually, it's the block in a person's soul-energy, or in their emuna, that's causing their physical issue.
Adam looked at me like I'd fallen off the moon, or something.
Again, Adam may well be correct, that losing weight would also help to solve the problem, at least temporarily, but the much bigger issue is that there are so many Jews out there, even religious Jews, who are cutting G-d, and their souls, completely out of their healing picture.
Yes, they'll say a few tehillim to be healed of their ailment, maybe even a whole book of tehillim, depending on how serious the problem is and how 'frum' they are. But otherwise most people, even strictly observant Jews, balk at the idea that G-d is behind their health problems, that G-d is sending them health issues for a reason, and that G-d could heal them without the help of a Western-trained doctor.
Rebbe Nachman teaches very clearly that if a person is on a high enough spiritual level, G-d can send them healing just through their food and drink - and if you speak to enough 'food detox' people, you'll start to hear hundreds and even thousands of stories that bear this out.
Rebbe Nachman also teaches that healing comes from herbs - which is a mainstay of Chinese Medicine, and also, to a lesser degree, aromatherapy.
Rebbe Nachman also teaches that doctors, particularly Western-trained doctors who treat people as bodies with no spiritual dimension attached, are dangerous, and that you need to stay away from them as much as possible.
What are we to make of all this?
We'll come back to this topic a lot on this blog, in various ways, but for now, let's just explore in more detail the idea of 'idol worship'.
In its most fundamental form, idol worship is when you put an intermediary in the place of G-d. In the old days (and in some Eastern religions today, like Hinduism and Buddhism) - people would literally set up stone idols to channel the healing forces they were after, and completely cut G-d out of the picture. The idol, or the idol's priest, 'healed' them.
Nothing like that happens today, of course, especially not in the modern, Western world…
Or does it?
If we go to the doctor to heal us, and we're not acknowledging that G-d is behind our illness, and that everything comes from G-d, how are we different from those ancient idol-worshippers?
If we're saying germs, or toxins, or genetics, or bad food are the sole cause of whatever sickness we have - and we cut G-d out of the picture - how is that different? If we take the antibiotics, or the meds, or the spirulina and we truly think they are going to heal us of our issues, without acknowledging G-d and cutting Him off from the whole process, then really, aren't we just indulging in a modern form of idol worship?
These are big, complicated, complex questions. Our sages teach us that doctors were granted 'permission to heal' from Shemayim. So there's a lot to discuss here, and G-d willing, part of why I wanted to create this blog is so that there would be online forum for discussing these things in a believing, intelligent, truth-seeking kind of way.
So for now, let's end with this: the next time you take an advil for the headache, or the pink antibiotics for strep throat, look inside yourself and see how much of you believes G-d is healing you, and the medicine is just a shaliach (intermediary), or how much you believe the pill, the pink stuff is the only way you could be cured.
The answer could be the beginning of completely new way of relating to G-d, and bringing Him into your healing picture.