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    Doing God’s work – Tazria

    The Torah reading has a focus on medicine. One of its great affirmations is that the human body is God’s handiwork.

    We are not just a collection of spare parts put together haphazardly but a functioning entity in which every aspect fits into the whole.

    There is such a Brain behind the interlocking bodily system that this is what we acclaim in the Asher Yatzar blessing said on leaving the toilet. All our b’rachot are cleverly framed: maybe this is the cleverest of them all.

    The Torah calls God our Healer (Ex. 15:26), and the doctor does God’s work (the Mishnah points out that the best of doctors is cursed unless he humbly recognises his duty to the Chief Physician). The Chazon Ish said that going to the doctor reinforced his faith and trust in God.

    The Hebrew for “healing” is from the root resh-peh-alef, three letters which sum up what the doctor deals with – not just the body but the patient as a total person, not just the “spare parts” but the overall well-being of the patient, not just the physical but the metaphysical.

    Resh is rosh, “head”, summarising the mental faculty. Peh is the mouth – what it takes in, i.e. food and drink, and what it emits, i.e. speech. Alef is the first letter of the alphabet, the initial letter of ani, “I”: the person as a whole.

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