Beshalach: The Gift Of Healing
01/09/2014 - 23:27
Rabbi Michael Levy
Rabbi Michael Levy
Rabbi Michael Levy

When we are ill, we consult a doctor, obtain a diagnosis and adhere to his/her treatment plan. How, then, are we to understand a passage from this week’s Torah portion that portrays God as a Healer? 

God addresses the Israelites: If you listen to the voice of The Lord your God,, doing what he approves, heeding his Mitzvot and keeping all His statutes, I will not afflict you with the… Egyptian sickness, for I, the Lord am your Healer.” [Exodus 15, 26] 

An answer emerged to this question, surprisingly, as I witnessed a computer malfunction.

One day, my wife activated her computer as she had done hundreds of times before. A message flashed on the screen:  “Your system is unstable. Would you like to continue?” Things went downhill from there.

After a 90-minute phone conversation, the tech support representative suggested a series of steps to keep the computer from crashing. “There’s something you need to know," the rep said. "Your computer will be saved, but the data in your documents will be lost.”

Our Daily “Activation”

In a procedure far more complicated than activating a computer, our bodies and minds transition each morning from sleep to wakefulness. Occasionally I might briefly ponder whether it is Tuesday or Wednesday, but in less than a minute, I know what day it is and am ready to face it.  There are no dire messages.  It is not necessary to consult a “tech support” representative, who may or may not be competent.

A Constant Miracle

Most days, our bodily systems automatically perform thousands of functions to maintain our stability. Here’s an example of what happens at the cellular level:

“Most proteins can only perform their various functions when they are folded… Protein folding takes place in a highly crowded, complex, molecular environment within the cell, and often requires the assistance of molecular chaperones, in order to avoid aggregation or misfolding.”

Rabbi Ephraim Waxman notes that according to scientists, the number of years it would take a supercomputer to compute an”optimal protein fold” is 10 followed by 127 zeros.

A Healing Partnership

God has seen fit to enable doctors to intervene to maximize our ability to function.  Medicine and medical procedures have dramatically improved the quality of life for both disabled and non-disabled individuals.

God’s “automatic enrollment” affordable universal healing system is always at work. Our sages have noted that our Creator even maintains our minds and bodies when we use them for purposes that are not good. 

As you read this blog, enjoy a Shabbat meal, attend synagogue services and plan for the coming week, your proteins keep on folding without a mishap. Thankfully, The Healer is always close at hand.

A native of Bradley Beach, New Jersey, Rabbi Michael Levy attributes his achievements to God’s beneficence and to his courageous parents. His parents supported him as he explored his small home town, visited Israel and later studied at Hebrew University, journeyed towards more observant Judaism, received rabbinic ordination, obtained a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and lectured on Torah and disability-related topics.

As a founding member of Yad Hachazakah, the Jewish Disability Empowerment Center (www.yadempowers.org), Rabbi Levy strives to make the Jewish experience and Jewish texts accessible to Jews with disabilities. In lectures at Jewish camps, synagogues and educational institutions, he cites Nachshon, who according to tradition boldly took the plunge into the Red Sea even before it miraculously parted. Rabbi Levy elaborates, “We who have disabilities should be Nachshons --boldly taking the plunge into the Jewish experience, supported by laws and lore that mandate our participation.” Rabbi Levy is currently director of Travel Training at MTA New York City Transit. He is an active member of Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY. He invites anyone who has disability-related questions to e-mail him at info@yadempowers.org

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