Kenneth Cohen

Permission to Heal

There is a promise given in the Torah for proper observance of the commandments. If we fulfill everything we are expected to do, then all of the sickness that we witnessed in Egypt, shall not come upon us.

The reason why we will not experience such sickness is because of the words, אני ה׳ רופאך, “I am your G-d that heals you.” The greatest doctor is none other than G-d, Himself.

There is another verse in the Torah that speaks of one who injures his friend in a fist fight. In that case he must pay for his friend’s disability from injury, as well as doctor bills. The exact wording of the text is, ורפא ירפא, “And he shall surely heal him.”

The Talmud in Baba Kama, says that from these two words, we learn that permission is granted to doctors to heal.

There seems to be an apparent contradiction. Is it Hashem that heals, or is it the doctor? In ancient times, if someone suffered an illness, he would go to a prophet, or spiritual leader, to find out what sin he had committed. He would repent for that sin, and he would be cured.

The healing that takes place nowadays, is on a lower level. We do not get to the cause of sickness, but treat the symptoms. It is heartwarming to see the numerous doctors that post in their offices, a doctor’s prayer. They ask that they be guided by Hashem to be proper messengers of healing.

In this way, there is a combination of the two types of healing. When doctors have the humility to realize that they are merely messengers, they become partners with Hashem, in the healing process. In every aspect of life, we are at G-d’s mercy. We must never forget this.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at