Interviews Dr. Ellen Levine Dr. Allan Handysides
() Hebrew Scriptures The Hebrew Concept of Health Jacques B. Doukhan
~ The Mitzvah of Health
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~ Neither Fat Nor Blood
Jewish Thought The Quest for H ealth A. Hadas
Jacques B. Doukban
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2 SHABBAT SHALOM I Winter 2001
Ho[ier tban Ho[iness
Jacques B. DoukhaYl! D.H.L.! Th.D.
he ancient rabbis derived the obliga tion to be healthy fram the biblical mandate, "Take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously" (Deuteranomy 4:9 JPS'). Ir was therefore a religious dury for the Jew to be healthy-so much so that the preservation of life overruled the sacred perform ance of the mitzvoth (Yoma 85b). The reason for this religious para dox is simple: God was viewed as the Creator. The Hebrew concepr of Heal rh was then understood in relation to Crearion. The best way of wimessing to the God who cre ated and gave life is rhen to wit ness to life and to promote the sacredness of !ife in every area of exisrence: eating, raking hygienic measures, worship, and restingo
For the affirmarion of life and rhe reverence for life speaks better abour God than disease, death and even heroic self-denial. The indi viduai who insisrs on fasring or refuses to take medical therapy on Sabbath is considered a "pious fool," and his deeds are without any religious merit. ln rhis special issue on "Healrh," rhe rabbi, the medical doeror, and the theologian join rheir words and their thought fui o bservations in a cal! for Health , to guide and help us to beco me heathier and rhus more alive, nor jusr for our own human interesrs, but essentially for God's sake. For Health is holier than Holiness itsel f.
Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 3
Dr. E[[en Levine
habbat Shalom: Do we have a Jewish concept of health? Levine: Absolutely! We have an obligation to respect and honor our bodies, as they are gifts from Cod and made in His image. We are also commanded to save the life of an endangered person, even if it is nonheroic such as making sure thar someone rakes his/her pills on rime. We are also required to ger medical attenrion when we are sick. The Torah and rhe larer wrir足 ings (e.g., rhe Talmud) speak about the importance of healrh. Healrh involves rhe enrire person, nor jusr the body. The Hebrew word for healrh, beriut, derives from rhe word bara, to create, while the word for sick is chalah, which also means empry. 50 health can be seen as the re-cre足 ation of the body and rhe self in order to fill up the empriness inside of uso ln order to cure rhe person, rhe soul has to be cured as well. Therefore, in Judaism health is a mind/body processo The mind and the body are inrerconnecred and depend on each other to maintain health. Both of these parrs of us are also expressions of 4 5HABBAT 5HALOM / Winter 2001
the holiness in our lives. We have a finire time on earth, "A rime to be bom and a time for dying" (Ecclesiares 3: 1). Therefore we musr rake the time that we have and be careful of ourselves. "Take utmost care and warch yourself scrllpulollsly" (Dellreronomy 4:9). Many secrions of the Talmlld emphasize rhe importance of good healrh and rhe role of emo足 rions and psychological stares in mainraining good healrh. We are
Health can be seen as the re-creation o/ the body and the selfin order to fill up the emptiness inside o/ uso told not to live in a city thar does not have a physician. Jewish law also states "If you are in pain, go to a physician!" We see Cod as the ultimate healer: "For I am rhe Lord, your healer" (Exodus 15:26). Many psalms and prayers in J lldaism include words of healing, or ask Cod to heal uso ln the Bible, 213 of the 613 commandments deal with health-relared issues, such as
personal hygiene, care of rhe skin, dietary laws, isolation and quaran rine and other public-health prac tices. There are many places in rhe Bible where healrh is spoken of and advocared. For example, Exodus 31: 14 stares "If you do nor keep rhe 5abbarh you will sure1y die." This doesn'r mean that a thunderbolr wiU come out of rhe sky and kill you, it means rhat we need a break in our lives, a time for rest so that we do nor overwork and kill ourselves. Even God resred after creating the world: "On the sevenrh day God finished the work rhat He had been doing, and He resred on the sevenrh day from ali rhe work rhar He had done" (Genesis 2:2-3). He rhen ser aside rhar day as a holy day, a day of resr and recuperation from ali rhe srresses in our lives.
Shabbat Shalom: Why is health important for Judaism? Levine: If we do not have good healrh, rhen rhere is empriness in ourselves and in our souls. Judaism srrives for wholeness, of who we are, of rhe world. God commands us to be healrhy so thar we can do His work. We are also commanded to live complete and authenric "
lives. We cannot help to heal the world if we ourselves are nor healthy.
Shabbat Shalom: Are Jewish dietary laws related to health? Levine: This has been argued for centuries. Why do we have the
laws about dierary practice? 50me argue rhar i t was a ser of dierary laws for public hygiene and healrh. Orhers feel thar ir doesn'r matter, rhar dierary laws are a command menr from God and rhar is rhar. Bur severa! Jewish scholars over the cenruries, chiefly Moses Maimonides, fel r rhat keeping dietary laws would help in being and sraying healrhy.
require rhem to take pills wirh food, they should nor fasr ali day.
Shabbat Shalom: How is Jewish ethics related to health? Levine: ln Judaism, rhe quesr for
Bur people srilJ do, rhinking rhar they have to, and rhar ir would be a sin if rhey did noto Bur main taining physical healrh overrides rhe law of fasring, and rhey are rherefore permitted to ear. Ir is j usr convincing rhem rhar ir is all righr rhar is rhe problem! Emorional healrh is also impor tam in alJ aspecrs of Jewish life. For example, if a person is depressed, he/she may not be tak ing care of his/her body, and can make him/herself physically iII. If someone is depressed during a holiday such as Purim that calls for joy, amusement and laughter, he/she will not be able to celebrate the holiday properly. If a person has agoraphobia, he/she may not be able to go to services and other tem pie activities. A similar prob lem exists if a person cannor come to tempie due to physical limita tions. 50 if a person is in iII health, be it emotional! psychological or physical, he/she will not be able to follow many of God's command ments, which include temple wor ship and participaring in joyous occasions. Unfortunately there are no surviving books on healing from biblical times.
healrh includes rhe search for self undersranding. We need to know who we are in order to maimain good healrh, ln addirion, once we can undersrand who we are and whar our purpose in tife is, then we can rry
l n Judaism, the quest fo r health includes the search for selfunder standing. to complete the rasks for which God placed us on earth. Good health is also seen as a path to being an ethi cal/moral human being.
Shabbat Shalom: What are the various areas of Jewish life that concern health? Levine: Being healthy impacrs ali areas of life, including spirirual, physical, psychological, and ethi cal. For example, one can violate the laws of the 5abbarh, if he/she is in a life-threarening siruation. If a person is e1derly or taking medica tions, he/she should not fasr. This presenrs inreresting situarions around Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism, a day when we fasr and ask God for for giveness for the acts rhar we have committed againsr God. 50 people rhink rhar rhey have to fasr ali day, no marter whar. Now for rhe e1d erly and people wirh illnesses rhar
Shabbat Shalom: Are Jews healthier than other people? Levine: I wish ali Jews were healthy! There have been studies that show thar people living in a kibbutz in Israel had a lower mor rality rate than city dwellers, but I
Winrer 2001/ 5HABBAT 5HALOM 5
am not sure oE the reasons Eor that. There are certain iII nesses that occur more oEten in Jewish popu lations such as Tay-Sachs disease, some Eorms oE breast and colon cancer. There may be studies that compare people in a kosher diet versus a nonkosher diet, but 1 don't know the outcome. Shabbat Shalom: What prin cipIes of health are promoted by Judaism? Levine:. ln Judaism, good health is obtained by Eollowing God's commandments. ln those commandments are laws concem ing Eood, exercise, living where medical help is n ear, personal hygiene, and talcing care oE the soul (our psychological selves). So almost ali oE the modem health promotion techniques and systems coincide with Jewish law. One does not passively say "God will heal me"; one h as to be active in the process, hei ping God to heal him/her. This is done by eating correct1y (the right Eoods, at the right times, etc.) , talcing care oE the body throu gh exercise and hygiene, and using medical knowledge an d guidance (e.g., taking medications, going to phys ical therapy, getting an annual physical examination , etc. ). Shabbat Shalom: Jewish his tory and tradition count many medical doctors. How do you explain this? Levine: Yes, this is interesting, isn't it? ln Judaism being a doeror is a very honorable thing to do. For doc tors work with God to heal the body and the soul (in the case oE psychol ogists). One oE our most Eamous philosophers and physicians was Moses Maimonides who lived in the 12th cemury CE, and was physician to the Sultan oE Egypt. He wrote many papers on Jewish logic, health, and keeping the commandmems. Since Jewish law vi ews saving a
liEe is one oE the most im portam things a person can do , those who were able to heal were held in high esteem. He/she was seen as the helper or instrument oE God. ln Jewish history many oE these heal ing traditions were handed down Erom Eather to sono Shabbat Shalom: Do we have a Jewish tradition of vegetarianism? Levine: Some argue that because Adam and Eve were told that they could eat the produce oE
A person in iII health be it emotionallpsycho logical or physical, wilf not be ab!e to fl!low many ofGod's com mandments. the land and not animais that we were supposed to be vegetarians. But later aEter Noah saved the ani mais Erom the flood we were told that eating meat was permitted. The Noah ide laws applied to ali oE
th e people that carne aEter him, so it is not just a Jewish issue, but applies to alI oE uso There is no commandmem oE vegetarianism th at 1 know about. Shabbat Shalom: How is the H ebrew concep t of Sh.alom relat ed to health? Levine: Good question! Shalom means wholeness or completeness as well as peace. This implies that one can not be at peace unless one is complete in soul and body. Thus if one is iII, one does not have
G SHABBAT SHALOM / Winter 2001
shalom. Shabbat Shalom: What is the message of health that Jews h.ave given to the world? Levine: 1 think the most im por tam message is that we must take the responsibility of takin g care of our bodies and our souls in order to Eeel a sense oE peace and com pleteness in our lives. We cannot carry on God's work without that sense oE co mpleteness and peace. This is the basic principIe and as a rabbi once said: "The rest is com mentary."
Dr. A[[an Hanô~siôes
habbat Shalom: Do we have a Seventh day Adventist (SDA) concept of health? If, yes, how would you define or describe it? Handysides: Yes , Seventh day Adventists have a clear con cept of hea!th . We see it as a beautiful gift Erom God-of vibram mental , physical, spiri tua!, and social wholeness. Ir is not some state of the absence of disease, but a positive condition of well-being. We recognize this is not of our own making, but God's creation. We see disease as a result of the brokenness of the human condition caused by the imperfections of our nature, that the separation from God has caused. Shabbat Shalom: Why is health important for Seventh day Adventist p eople? Handysid es: Health is so important [O us because we cherish a gifr Cod has given uso Health enables us have clear and lucid minds that can appreciate God's love and will for uso Vigorous health enables us to be joyful and vivid wimesses to
truth, love, and compassion. Adventists believe we live in dose proximity to the second return of Jesus and our emphasis on healrh is an attractive aspect of Christian living that may magnify the beauty of salvation to those who seek for results of Christian living in the presem as well as the future. Shabbat Shalom: Is SDA diet related to health or other con siderations?
Vigorous hea!th enables us to be joyful and vivid witnesses to truth) love) and compassion. Handysides: The SDA diet is actually nor easy to define. The scriptural basis defines our church position. This is the avoidance of unclean foods, and the Old Testament injunction against certain meats, such as pork, scavenging and preying animaIs, are followed. We follow these instructions believing them to have basis in health, but aiso in faith-believing that Cod knows best even if we can-
Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 7
not understand. There may well be funher implications than purely health issues here, and the injunction not to eat the blood, for therein is the life, may have a spiritual protection against ideas that come from animismo The admonition to avoid the fat seems expIicable on a health basis, but rhere may be a more profound reason. Believing our body to be the tem pie of the Holy Spirit, we also strive for better health, and following the instrucrion given to our early church founders rhrough ElIen White, many are lacto-ovo vegetarians. This dier has been shown to result in increased longevity. Torai vege tarianism is promored by our mosr zealous health promoters, bur the basis for this is not as scientifically solid, nor as explic it in the writings of ElIen White, and can be an area of disagree ment even between strong health proponenrs. Shabbat Shalom: How is ethics related to health? Handysides: Ethics are indeed complex and increasingly difficult to define in an age where genetic manipulation, gene rherapy, stem-cell research, and generic-disease patterns are increasingly undersrood. The pursuit of healrh is a laudable thing, yer the issues of human righrs, and conceprs of person hood, ensoulment, are indeed complex. Healrh issues can confound the wisesr of us, and prayer, mediration, and a willingness to be led by rhe Spirir are very much needed. Somerimes rhe cacophony of human opinion drowns our rhe sril!, small voice of God. Mosr issues of this com plexity wilI need to be worked out in a close personal relarion
ship berween the individual and one's Lord. So often our strident voices, empowered by proud convicrion, scarcely allow per sons to think for rhemselves. Shabbat Shalom: What are
The pursuit O / health is a laudable thing yet the issues o/human rights and concepts o/person hood ensouLment are indeed complexo J
the various areas of SDA life that are concerned with health? Handysides: SDA life in volves our personal lifestyle, which reflects our relarionship and communion wirh God, bur Adventisrs believe strongIy in a minisrry of healing-a compas
sionare ourpouring of love in rhe healing touch of love to orhers. We believe ali members are health ministers, be ir in a genrle caress or rhe high-rech surgical or proton-powered therapies. Our members cover a variety of disciplines, but ali are morivated by a desire to help orhers and alleviare suffering. We also are srrong proponents of preven rion, and healrh minisrries encompass rhose areas, such as drug prevention, behavioral modificarion, etc., rhrough esrablishing of wholesome, meaningful, loving relarionships, especially wirh rhe youth. Shabbat Shalom: Are
8 SHABBAT SHALOM / Winter 2001
Seventh-day Adventists in gen eral healthier than other peo pie? If yes, how do you explain it? Handysides: Sevenrh-day Advenrisrs are generally healthi er rhan orhers and live berween seven and fourreen years longer rhan rhe average American (depending on the intensiry with which rhey adhere to recom mended healrh measures). Adventisrs do nor smoke or drink when following the Adventist lifesryle. Those rwo measures prolong life. Then rhe Adventisr health srudies have clearly shown benefi rs of our sense of communiry and supporr lD church life, and Vegerarianism, ar leasr Lacto-ovo Vegerarianism, and even benefits from the reduced mear con sumprion and increased veg erable and fruir inrake rhar many nonvegerarian Adven rists follow. Shabbat Shalom: What prin cipies of health are promoted by Seventh-day Adventism? Handysides: The guiding principies of healrh followed by Adventisrs can be summarized in remperance, which means, for Adventisrs, moderarion in rhings good for one and absrinence from poisons. Tobacco, alcohol, and srreer drugs are poisons and we avoid rhem. Moderarion in good things , even such as exer cise, resr, and work, ali pIay a role in making a well-rounded lifesryle. The emphasis on nature as God's crearion makes us seek natural foods and soIurions to everyday problems. Shabbat Shalom: We have a very important tradition which emphasizes medical studies in the Adventist community and there are even three Adventist Medical Schools. How do you explain this?
Handysides: 1 would explain this as being an outgrowth of several factors. Our health emphasis, of course, is one important factor. The emphasis on service to others is another. We, as a church, have also seen health services as a minisrry, so many who feel a call to min isrry, but not in the pulpit, have felt the lure of health ministry. T hen toO, our emphasis on mis sion and medical mission is a major factor. Our !lrst medical school was called a College of Medical Evangelists. The school in Argentina displa)'s a strong emphasi s on evangelism, even toda)'. Then perhaps our Sabbath-keeping has playe d a role in that )'o ung people have sought self-regulating occupa tions to avoid Sabbath work, and even emergenc)' medical work is seen as being like the lifring of the ox from the pir. After ali, Jesus often healed on Sabbath. Shabbat Shalom: Do we have an Adventist tradition of vegetarianism? How do you
account for t his? H andysides: The Adventist tradition of ve getarianism grew out of health concerns for a work force that was sickly, and inspired insights given to Ellen White on the superiority of veg etarianism . This was in an era of reform on he alth issues in many pares of the world, and indeed the moderate approach taken by Ellen White even in the face of
-wé believe alI mernbers are
health ministers) be it in a gent!e caress or the high-tech surgical orproton-powered therapies. what she called extremists has kept the church healthy and viable. Vegetarianism carries with it dangers of New Age philosophy, which is reall)' a resurgence of old age eastern m)'sticism and spiritism. Some church mem bers, unwitcingly swayed by ide
ologies derived from these sources, seek to encourage man)' forms of food and dietary prac ti ces whose foundation is not healthful living but a New Age spirituality. Our tradition is based on vegetarianism-being healthy. Shabbat Shalom: What is the message of health that Adventists have for the world? Handysides: Our message for the world is thar God loves us and cares for uso His wish is that we ma)' prosper and be in health, even as our souls prospe r. ln fact, Adventists believe that the power of life given us b)' God, along with our ph)'sical bod)', is indeed the sou/. This being the case, wholeness of life as lived in the fullness of a spiritual rela tionship wi th God and a social relationship with others is maxi mized by our good health.
. is open to the·p"ysician. (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah, 6, 1)
Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 9
Tbe Hebrew COl1cept of
Jacques B. Doukbal1
t seems that there is no Hebrew concept of health. Nowhere in the Bible do we find prescriptions about how to be healthy. We do not have a word in the Hebrew Bible for "health. " And yet the whole Bible is about health. Every page of the Bible, every reflection of wisdom, every parcel of the Hebrew Torah is aimed at health. The Bible starrs on that notice. The affirmation of life is given as the first, the basic principle of biblical revelation. God creates. He transfo rms darkness into light, the nonbeing into being. The Hebrew concept of health is to be understood in that perspective. Because the God of Israel is the God of life, he is the God of health. Life is the first place of God's revelation. It is significant that God's first manifestation is given as Ruach Elohim, me Wind, the Alr of God who l "was hover ing over the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2). God reveals Hirnself not in the form of darkness, nor in the form of the watery abyss as
Spirituality This biblical affirmation of life teaches about a holistic view of !ife. From the first words of the Bible we are notified that the spir itual world and the physical world are the same thing. They are not rwo separate categories. T he spirit of God, Ruach Efohim, is the prin cipie of life. To be spiritual means to be alive, and to be alive means to be spiritual. This is the first The affirmatíon 01Lifi implication we may infer from the is given as thefirst) the story of Creation. Man's "biologi cal" life is directly dependent on basic principIe 01bibli his relationship with God. God cal revelation. breathes into man's nostrils and man becomes alive. Life is then a dimension of the "encounter" death. Ir was perfect, "complete" berween God and man (cp. Ps life. The lesson that emerges from 115: 17). the first chapter of Genesis will accompany the reader of the Holy Wholeness Scriptures from then on. It is a call Another implication of the cre for life. "Therefore choose life" ation of man reported in the Bible (Deut 30:19). Life becomes, there is that the human person is con fore , the dury that is required of ceived as a whole. Man became a anyone who wants to walk on living soul (Gen 2:7). Thus it God's paths. Health is the fim would be inappropriate to say that mitzvah of the Jew and of anyone man has a soul; man is a sou!. The who believes in God. Hebrew conception of man makes
in the ancient Near Eastern mythologies. God appears as a force thar is distinct from water or darkness, a force that brings life. The first page of the Bible is therefore a description of life at its best. Creation is given as "good, " "very good." T he world as it carne out of the hands of this God was perfect, not yet spoiled by evil or
10 SHABBAT SHALOM / Winter 2001
no room for a dualistic rheory of language is still used in Modem blood that is life. This principie is Hebrew when one asks mah mano The word nephesh which is 50 importam rhat the biblical text commonly translated by "soul" shLomekha, the equivalent of "how goes 50 far as to associate it with are you?" ln Hebrew we are in fact implies in facr ali rhe funcrions of rhe killing of humans and the fact man, spiritual, mental, emotional, that man has been created in God's asking "how complete are you?" as well as physical. The nephesh can Likewise, King Hezekiah calls his image (Gen 9:5-7). be hungry (Ps 107:9; Deur 12:20), healing the recovery of his shalom, ln the book of Ezekiel it is asso of his complereness (Isa 38: 17). thirsry (Ps 143:6), satisfled Ger ciated with idolatry and murder The same principie underlies the 31: 14), enjoy good food (Isa 55:2); (Ezek 3:25-26). No wonder then ir can also love (Gen 34:3; Song lessons of the book of Proverbs. this prescription has been main 1:7), be troubled (Ps 31:9), cry (Ps Religious life, the obedience of rained for the non-Jew in rhe 119:20), make research (Lam 3:25), know (Ps 139:14), be wise Fro m the first words o/the Bible we are notified that
(Prov 3:22), worship and praise the spiritual world and the physical world are the
God (Pss 103:1; 146:1). The same principie applies for the human same thing.
organs. Guts, rechem, have com passion (Gen 43:30); kidneys, God's commands, is essemial for Noahic law and is still valid even ki/yot, convey instruction (Ps under the "new covenant" as health. "My son, do not forget my 16:7); the hearr, Leb, thinks (Ezek law, but let your heart keep my understood by the early Christians 38:10), feels (Ps 39:4) or under commands; for length of days and (Acts 15). stands (1 Kgs 3:9); the ears, ozen long life in peace (shaLom) they The same lesson is implied in im, understand (Prov 18:15). The will add ro you (Prov 3: 1-2). the Levitical restriction "you shall flesh, basar, which is supposed to not boil a young goat in its moth Food er's milk" (Exod 23: 19). Ir is clear contain ali the physical functions of man, has aiso spiritual func It's interesting and indeed impor that besides the cultural reason rions. The flesh is troubled Ger tant to realize that when the Bible that associated this reci pe with the 12:12), knows (Ezek 21:10), is speaks about food, ir does nor do Baal fertiliry cults of Canaan, and the erhical intention to prevent the it with rhe concem of healrh but spiritual Goel 3: 1), worships (Isa wirh rhe concem of the sacredness 66:23; Ps 145:21). cruelry against animais, there is Thus, man may rhink with his of life. The flrsr rime rhat food is another deeper reason: afflrm the mentioned, ir is to inform rhe teaching of the sacredness of life. body and ear wirh his soul, just as reader that food has been given by Just as we should not eat rhe meat he may think with his soul and eat God in a way that does not threar with its blood rhat provides life in wirh his body. Actually the twO en life. Humans and animais are the veins of the animais, it is not words nephesh (soul) and basal' decem to eat the animal with the sharing rhe sarne vegerarian diet (flesh) are often interchangeable milk which is supposed to provide (Gen 1:27-30). The same princi (Num 31:35; cf. Ps 145:21). The it with life. This is also why the pie jusrifles God 's commandment reason for rhat confusion is that clean animais that we are allowed not to eat mear with its blood soul and body do not exist sepa to eat in the Levitical system are (Gen 9:3-4). rately. Man is conceived in totaliry. generally not animaIs that kill. The reason for this prescription If the physical mechanism srops Even here when we can eat meat is explicitly indicated;ir is because working, the spiritual mechanism that belongs to the selected life of life is in rhe blood. (Gen 9:4). This does the same (Eccl 9:5). Death is is the lesson hidden behind man's the Torah, we are supposed to total just as life. For the Hebrew, to be whole, diet. We should eat with the remember creation. Ir is indeed awareness that life is sacred. This highly significam that the life that complete, "total" means therefore to be healrhy. Ir is noreworthy that associarion of though t is quite is given in Leviticus 11 reflects the rhe Hebrew word ShaLom which consistent with the biblical idea blueprint of the creation story. It means "complete," "whole" is thar God is the creator of life. This follows rhe same sequence as in mosdy used with the connotation food is given by God to sustain Genesis 1:24-26, uses the same af health. The flrst appearance of life; it therefore could not be oth technical expressions and is associ rhe word ShaLom appears in erwise: we cannot on one hand ated with the same principie of the provide and afflrm life in eating creation of humans in God's Genesis 23:6 when Jacob inquires and at the same time withdraw life about Laban's shaLom, a way of ask image. "You shall therefore be holy ing his well-being, his healrh. This in killing and the shedding of for Iam holy" (Lev 11:44). Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 11
Sex The biblical raison d'etre of sexual relations is the high reverence for life. Here also the reference to cre ation is implied. The four duties that are associated with sexuallife are pointing to creation. The first duty is given in the creation story; it is the first commandment of God, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen 1 :20). It is amazing that the first human conception is put in the context of sexual life. "Adam knew Eve"- and yet it is interpret ed by Eve as a divine creation. "I have acquired a man from the Lord" (Gen 4: 1). The second duty concerns hygienic measures taken in rela tion to bodily discharges. Both man and woman are subject to the sarne laws which imply rituais of washing and cleaning. For the woman however the time of uncleanness is longer (7 days) dur ing which the woman is set aparr (Lev 15:19) and no sexual rela tionship is allowed (Lev 10:18). Here again we may perceive the sarne principie that was behind the dietary laws, namely that life is not to be associated with death. Sexual relation, an act of life, cannot take place at the rime of menstruation, which is associated with the blood and the loss of potentiallife. The third duty concerns sexual satisfacrion. Man should not frus trate the woman, not only from her food or her clothing, but also from "her marriage rights" (Exod 21 : 1O). According to this view sex ual relations are then legitimate outside of procreation (contrary to the Catholic tradition). Yet it is noteworthy that this duty con cerns only the husband; the woman remains sovereign on that marter. She is the one who should control the relations. This nuance is suggested in the context of the creation story where man is described as the one who "shall leave father and mother" to follow
his wife in their becoming "one flesh" (Gen 2:26). The sarne prin cipIe seems to dominate the man woman relationship in wisdom lit-
Ir is only in this experience, vis-a vis with the one who is like me and different from me, only in monog amous experience which implies
Religious fifi, the obedience ofGods commands, zs essentiaf fo r health. erature, especially the Song of Songs, where it is the woman who takes the initiative and controls the relationship (see also Jer 31:22). Ali these measures may surprise or even shock our "macho" views. But they make sense from the per spective of the protection of woman and hence the health of the sexual relations. Sexual satis faction is achieved insofar as it implies reverence for the sacred ness of life. The fourrh duty concerns the nature of the relation that is con tained in the sexual relations. The Hebrew word that describes sexual relations is yada', which implies personal, intimate and reciprocai experience in time. ln other words, sexual relations imply the knowl edge of the parrner. Ir is not a one night experience. Ir implies the duration and the commitment of life. Ir also implies it is between two persons. The woman is not given to man or reversely as a mere object of pleasure. They are both subjects facing each other. The Hebrew experience that describes this relation is given in Genesis 2: 18: the woman has been created by God in relation to man /eenegdo, which literally means "as his oppo site." The relation that was given at creation necessitates a relationship with someone who is both like me and different from me; she/he is both with me and against me. She/he supports and confronts me. It's clear then that this biblical view of the couple excludes any relationship with the sarne sex (only like me) or relationship with an animal (only di fferent) , just as it excludes any extramarita! affair.
12 SHABBAT SHALOM / Winter 2001
the real knowledge of the other that we wiU produce and guaran tee. Only within these parameters will we achieve the highest biblical ideal, namely the resemblance with God. Ir is in clear significance that equal creation of the human cou pIe as man and woman in their sexual relations is associated with the principie of Imago Dei: "So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them" (Gen 1:27 ). Environment AlI those biblical !aws which apply to space and objecr surround the human person and concern his/her welfare. This relation is already obvious in creation. The environ mem is indebted to the Hebrew view of creation. Contrary to the Greek and the dualistic views where creation is depicred as nega tive, the Bible describes creation as positive and valuable. After each acr of creation God evaluates that it is very good and beautiful. God creates the world as a perfect and enjoyable environment for the humans. Before creating man, God creates his environment, the light, the sun, the water, and the animais (Gen 1). The plams of the garden precede the formation of man (Gen 2). Also this garden is not just given to promote shelter and food for the mano Ir is not just a usefu! context. The biblica! text lengthens in discussing the harmo ny and the "use!ess" beauty of the space where man will be put. Trees are not just good for food but are
also "pleasam to the sight." And the tree of life is in the middle (Gen 2:9) . Four rivers are flowing there, and are associated with pre cious stones and gold. The lesson God gives in His cre ation should be meditated by the professionals of religion. Beauty is the sign of life. Ugliness and bore dom are not signs of good religion. God is first of ali an artist. People who despise beauty and lack good taste miss an importam aspect of God's presence, perhaps the most importam one. The very fact thar God created the human environment as beauri fui is a religious invitation to appreciate the beauty of creation. This exercise of the sensitivity will bring life and heahh to our human existence. Maimonides, the great physician of rhe Middle Ages, rec ommended his patienrs to con template beautiful things and to listen to beautiful musico For the agency of beauty will dissipate despair and cure depression. Creation (not droughr), life (not death) , beauty (not boredom), joy (not sadness) will teach about God Qob 12:2-10). Now, the fact thar rhe world has been created as a whole and in relation to man, indicates an organic unity of the world within itself and as it relates to mano The nature of this relarionship is such that the history of the whole world is described as dependem upon man's actions. The original good creation becomes bad as soon as man disobeys God. Evil and death enter the world and the ecological balance has been upset due to rhe sin of mano This lesson of depend ence is repeated over and over again in the scriptures. ln Genesis 4, as a result of his murder, Cain had to be protected (Gen 4:15). The text does nor specify from what, but it is clear that animais
are implied since these are the only things left besides his parents. The sarne principie underlies the Hebrew concept of the promised land which has the property of "vomiting out" its sinful inhabi tants (Lev 18:25, 28). The iniqui ty of the lsraelites who steal and commit adultery (Hos 4:2) affects the character of the land which "will moum ... And waste with
People who despise beauty and lack good taste miss an important aspect O f God 's presence. the beasts . . . the birds and the fish" (Hos 4:3). Likewise the mere lie of the individual Achan has an effect upon the immediate sur roundings. Not only will the whole people be hurt but rhe space in which the sin takes place, the valley, is hit and becomes the "val ley of trouble" Qosh 7:10-26). Thus the geography seems to bear witness to the iniquity. And this principie is so vivid for rhe prophets that they go so far as to infer rhe fate of rhe nation merely from rhe meaning of the names of rhe cities where thar narion dwelJs (Mic 1: 10-16). As a marter of fact, the world is imimately associared wirh irs inhabirants (lsa 49:13; Jer 51:48; Ps 96: 11; 1 Chr 16:31) and man's success or failure involves the failure or success of ali crearion (lsa 51:6; 44:23; 45:18). This is why rhe Bible is full of laws rhat regulare the person's rela tion to his/her body and environ ment. This principie of depend ence was behind rhe norion of infection and the transmission of disease, and thus behind ali the hygienic laws, and the duty to wash not only the body, bur also any infecred space or objects. The jusrification for ali these measures
is repeated over and over again in the book ofLeviticus, "Be holy, for 1 am holy," (Lev 11:40; 19:2; 20:7; 21 :6, 8). God's presence is recog nized everywhere; the whole space is owned by God. Therefore the whole world is to be kept holy. The recognition that God owns the world belongs to the biblical view of creation. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell there in; for he has founded it upon the waters" (Ps 24:1-2). The human duty to keep nature in good condition implies the health of creation. For this aware ness that God has creared the world will preserve against rwo pit falis that have destroyed the earth: The trap of idolatry where man is crushed by creation, where cre ation is left by itself and therefore bound to confusion and death; the trap of ecological abuse where man destroys the earth. The biblical text and creation calls man to responsibility in the garden where he has been put. He will have "to tend it and keep it (Gen 2: 15).
Ethics Man has been created a social being. "Ir is not good that man should be · alone" (Gen 2: 18). The Hebrew concept of health is therefore based on relationship. Shalem (complete) implies Shawm (peace) . A bad rela tion is bound to produce a disease. The first human depression is so diagnosed. Because Cain failed in his relationship with his brother "his countenance fell" (Gen 4:5). The book of Proverbs elaborates on this observation. The idea that the wicked perishes is repeated like a refrain in the book (Prov J 3: 13; 19:9; 28 :28 etc.). Unethical behav ior leads ultimately to death. "A worthless man, a wicked man goes abour wirh crooked speech, winks wirh his eyes, scrapes wirh his feet,
Wimer 2001/ SHABBAT SHALOM 13
points with his finger, with per veited heart devises evil, continu ally sowing discord; therefore calamiry will come upon him sud denIy; in a moment he will be bro ken without remedy" (Prov 6: 12 15) . The tangue plays an important role in ethical behavior: i t is there fore expected that "Death and life
aI are reconciled or re-created. 3. Because the Sabbath is the time of exalting creation, this is the day when good food is in order. It is noteworthy that the first experience of the Sabbath by the Iiberated peopIe of Israel is associated wieh food, the manna from above. This is why the Sabbaeh table has rwo breads, the
naeural resources. 6. The Sabbath is also the day that overthrows social barriers. No more slave or master, no more stranger or natives (Deut 5:14) . Ir is ehe day when we learn tO respect each other, noe onIy because we remember ehat we are equals, we are ali created by God, but also because we have time to relate tO each other and ehe faieh ta notice in the other the face of God. The Sabbath commandment contains all the les Indeed the Sabbath contains alI sons 01Creation) and hence alI the lessons about
the dimensions of health. And yet the Sabbath contains one more the Hebrew concept 01health.
dimension that eranscends alI the others. The Sabbath brings the sur are in the power of the tangue" rwo hallot, calling the double por tion of the m anna during the plus 2 that makes us nostalgic and (Prov 18:4). ln face, the tangue of Exodus time. dream about another time. It is ehe the wise promotes health (Prov 12:18). "A wholesome tan gue" is 4. Sexual life is relevant in the hope "of new heavens and new earth" where "the voice of weeping holy time ofSabbath. The message iden tified with "the tree of Life" while perverseness in ehe tangue shall no longer be heard" (Isa is given through the literary paral lelism that associa ces the gife of the will break the spirit (Prov 15 :4). 65: 19), for we shall chen no longer Psalm 41 relates explici dy the Sabbaeh (on ehe seveneh section of be concerned wieh health .. . biblical ethical ideal of chariry tO ehe first creaeion story in G en 2: 1 the poor ta health. "Blessed is he 3) with the coupling of Adam and I ln Hebrew, che word ruach means who considers the poor. The Lord Eve (also on the seventh section of spiric, wind ar air. delivers him in the day of trouble ... the second creation stOry in Gen 2The neshama yeteira oE mysrical the Lord will strengthen him on 2:23-24). Jud aism. his bed of illness; you will sustain The Sabbath is thus given as the him on his sick bed" (Ps 41: 1, 3). time for family par excellence. It is not an accident that the fifth com Sabbath mandment follows the fourth com The primary function of the m andment about the Sabbath. Sabbath is tO remember creation These are the only positive com (Exod 20: 18). For that marter the mandments. No wonder then that Sabbath commandment contains the book of Leviticus associates the ali ehe lessons of creation, and keeping of the Sabbath with family hence ali the lessons about the relations (Lev 13:3). Hebrew concept of health. 5. The law of the Sabbath has 1. Ir implies a spiritual amibute ecological implications. On since it calls for the recognieion of Sabbath we are to affirm and God as the creatOr and ehe savior remember creation; "heavens and (Deut 5: 15). Ir is a moment of ehe earth, ehe sea and ali that is in rest, a pause from work and a time ehem ," and enjoy the beauty of tO be devoted to spiritual activiry. nature. This whole idea permeates 2. It emphasizes the holistic the central principIe of the view of life; ehe shalom has been Sabbatical year and the jubilee tradieionally been associated wich (the Sabbath of Sabbaths) when Shabbat. Remember, "Shabbat the land is left by itself Thus the Shalom." This is the mOment land is kept in good health rejuve when the physical and the spiritu nating itself, and preserving ics 14 SHABBAT SHALOM / Winter 2001
Tbe Mitzvab of Hea[tb
Professor of Hebrew Scriptures
he traditional Jewish concept of healm is well exemplified by me words ofMaimonides in his Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deut 4:1: "Since maintain ing a healmy and sOW1d body is among the ways of God-for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of me Creator if he is ill-merefore he must avoid mat which harms me body and accustom himself to rhat which is helpful and helps the body become stronger." The basic Jewish mitzvah of healm is found in rhe biblical text of Deuteronomy 4: 15: venishmartem meod lenafihoteychem ("be extremely protective of your being").l The Jewish concept of health is holistic and religious, for it is only in the communion with the Creator that man can enjoy real health. This idea of health is relat ed directly to rhe ideal of man's relarionship with God as esrab lished in Crearion. Man was creat ed in God's own image, to live by His will, and to relare himself to Him in rhe mosr profound and intimare ways. To live rhis ideal in one's life is to be indeed healrhy. This holiscic and religious Jewish concepr of healm is t'he one found in me New Testamem too. 2 Ir can be seen, for example, in John's salutarion
to Gaius: "Dear friend, I pray rhar you may enjoy good healm and mar ali may go well wirh you, even as your soul is gerring along well" (3 John 2, NlV). The NewTestamem's concem for me well-being of me human as a whole, and nor only for his spirirual welfare, is also seen in Paul's trearmem of everyday-life mar rers (food, drink, relationships, good cicizenship, work, etc.) as elements as importanr for me life of a believer as are me spirirual matters (faim, love,
It is only in the com munion wíth the Creator that man can enjoy real health. worship, righteousness, obedience, etc.)-see Romans 12-15; 1 Corinmians 3-14; Galatians 5: 16 6: 1O; Ephesians 4: 17-6:9; erc. ln a quite opposire way to rhe common Greek concept of rhe time, which considered rhe body basically only as a prison-house for rhe soul, the New Testament gives grear importance to rhe body and taking good care of ir. For Paul, rhe human body is a "remple" rhat belongs to God and it is forbidden to man to desrroy or dishonor this
"tem pie" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19).3 ln view of that, Paul exhorts his fellow believers: "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your rea sonable act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the panem of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:]-2). The New Testament's holistic and religious view on health is also dear ly perceived in the narratÍves of me healings and teachings of Jesus. While Jesus was keenly interested in healing me sick in body, he also paid dose attenrion to me mind and spir it of mose who suffered. This can be seen in his srress on faim on the part of mose who carne to him for help "your faím has saved you," "be it accordíng to your faith" were com mon expressions of Jesus (see Marrhew 8:13; 9:22, 29; 15:28; Mark 5:34, 36; erc.). It is also quire dear in the narrative of rhe healing of a paralytic in Capernawn, when he started wim me spiritual and psycho logical restoration of me man before his actual physical healing (Matthew
Wimer 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 15
9: 1-8; Luke 5: 18-26). Jesus' stress on healing the state of spiritual turmoil, in which many people lived, severed "the roots of psychogenic diseases."4 His teachings in the "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7) demonstrate also his "emphasis on human moti vation and his recognition of pow erful emotions like love, fear, hatred, lust, and anxiety as causes of mental and physical diseases."5 The New Testament emphasis on healing shows its stress on health as an important element of human life. Narratives like the healing of a man with a shriveled hand on Sabbath (Matthew 12:9 14; Mark 3: 1-6; Luke 6:6-11) is an example of the Jewish understand ing that prevailed over time con cerning the overall importance of the human health and life. Before healing the sick man, Jesus addressed his opponents, saying: "Is it lawful to heal on Sabbath? .. . If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on Sabbath" (Matthew 12:10-12). These words are a dose parallel to the Talmudic teaching that "ifit could save a life, one must (not may) violate the Sabbath, eat forbidden foods, and even eat on Yom Kippur (Pesachim 25a). The only laws that cannot be violated to preserve life are those prohibiting murder, idolatry, and sexual immorali~ (Yoma 85b; Sanhedrin 74a)." Paul's injunc tion to Timothy that he should breal< his Nazirite vows and drink some wine with water, instead of water only, as a remedy for his bad stomach and his frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23), betrays the Jewish understanding that one is to be "more particular about mat ters concerning danger to health and life than about ritual matters (Chulin 9a; Chosen Mishpat 427; Yoreh De'ah 116)."7 Finally, New Testament views on health point to the basic Jewish health concept in its relationship with God the Creator and the ideal of Creation. Diseases are seen
as something contrary to the esta.b lished order of the divine Creation. They are the result of the opera tion of evil in human life and in the world (Luke 13: 16), and the Messiah carne to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8) and set man free (Luke 13:12; 4:18-21). Hence, Jesus' healings are seen as one evidence that "the kingdom of God has come" (Matthew 12:28) and the restoration toward the ideal of Creation had begun. Healing and reestablishment of the sick were as much part of the results of the supreme Messianic sacrifice as were forgiveness of sin and salvation, as predicted by Isaiah 53:4 (Matthew 8:16-17). The end of ali things will be the total restoration of the divine orig inal order in the Messianic eternal kingdom . The present world and
This holistic and religious Jewish concept 01heafth is the one found in the New Testament tOO. its order will be destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:7-10; Revelation 20:7 15; see Malachi 4:1, 3), then God wiU create a new heaven and a new earth, and its capital will be the Jerusalem of gold and precious stones that wiU come down from heaven (Revelation 21: 1-2; see Isaiah 54:11-12; 65:17-19). ln that glorious city is located the Gan Eden with the "Tree of Life" in its midst, being that its leaves are for the "healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:2; see Ezekiel 47: 12). ln this new earth, health in its totality will be the reality of every human being, for: "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He willlive with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21 :3 4). Then, we will experience the
16 SHABBAT SHALOM / Winrer 2001
plentiful reality of the most funda mental biblical and Jewish idea on health: "I am the Lord, your Healer" (Exodus 15:26).
ISee che web documenc by Richard H. Sch.warrz, "Jewish Teachings on Health," [hrrp:/ /schwarcz.enviroweb.org/jhealch l.hrml], March 2002. 2See Hal'riso n, "Healing and Healrh,"
The Interpreters Dictionary o/ the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 1980), 2:546-548; idem, " Heal," The Internationa/ Standa/d Bible Encydopedia, fully revised (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 2:645-646; F. Graber and D. Mueller, "Heal," The New
Internationa/ Dictionary o/New Testament The%gy, ediced by Colin Brown (Grand Ra~ids: Zondel'van, 1976),2:163- 172. The idea of rhe human body as a "remple" rhac belongs to God is based in biblical passages like Isaiah 57: 15 ("Ilive in a high and holy place, bur also wich him who is conrrire and lowly in spirir") and is relared to healch as far as God's dwelling in rhe human "remple" is in order to "heal him" (lsaiah 57: 18- 19) . For a Jew, ir is ha/achic (" legally") prohibired co harm or dishonor his body; see Schwarcz, "Jewish Teaching on Healrh." 4"Modern psychiarric invesrigarion has shown rhar rhis conflicr rakes place in rhe uncanscious mind, a largely uncharred area of human personaliry in which such dynamics as fairh., hope, rhe will to live, fear, and acheI' emocional scaces are held to be roored. Ir was to chis realm, where so many af che disorders which afflicc mind and body have rheir beginning, rhar rhe healing influence and spiricual auchoriry af Chrisr penecrared" (Harrison, "Healing, H ealch, " 2:547). 5Idem, " Heal," 2:645. 6Yosef Ben Shloma Hakohen and Richard H. Schwarrz, " Prevencion: Tarah Perspectives on Preserving H ealch, " [heep://schwam.enviroweb.orglhealch.hrml], March 2002. 7 Ibid .
Ben Gurion University Serves Community The medical faculty of the Negev's Ben Gurion University has a com prehensive program of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in the local community as part of its activities. Faculty as well as medical stu dents focuses especially on high risk groups such as the Bedouin and immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. A Community Cancer Care unit gives workshops on pain manage ment, relaxation and nutrition. A mobile eye unir, Negev Project Vision , visits Bedouin villages, kibbutzim and moshavim. Smoking prevention and cessation programs are held in high schools. A newly opened school of phar macy has been added to the schools of nursing and physiother apy. Ben Gurion Universiey has the only medical faculey in Israel led by a female dean, Professor Rivka Carmi, who was appointed to the position last year. There are only nine medical- faculey deans in the whole of the United States. Prof. Carmi is providing a positive role model for the local population.
One of the local Bedouin women is in her fourth year of medicine and 780 scudents applied for the 65 positions available in the cur rent year's intake. Despite Israel's having a ratio of one MO for every 3,000 Israelis-one of the smallest ratios in the world- there is a shortage of doctors in ourlying areas. Prof. Carmi has asked the government to provide financial suppore for more basic and applied medical research.
Exercise Counselors' Course Completed Twenty people completed the Hebrew University's fim course for training personal exercise counselors. Graduates will provide advice in designing personalized exercise programs, as rhere is a growing awareness in people and organizarions of rhe imponance of exercise in psychological as well as physical healrh. Health Statistics Israel was reporred fifreenth on rhe World Health Organization's lisr of 129 countries showing the number of years a person is likely to enjoy reasonably good health. ]apan was ar the rop of the list at
73.8 years and Sierra Leone lasr at 29.5 years. The UN agency's annu ai health reporr placed Israel (69.9) behind Switzerland (72.1), Australia (7l. 5), Sweden (71.4), France (70.7), and Canada (70.0) , but equal wirh Britain (69.9), and ahead of Denmark (69.5), Germany (69.4), and the United States (67.2).
Effective Prayer Research findings published in rhe September issue of the Jouma! 01 Reproductive Medicine reported rhat a group of women undergoing IVF who were being prayed for were almosr twice as likely to beco me pregnant as a group who were not being prayed for. None of the women in either of the twO groups or medical person nel caring for them knew of the prayers. Three prayer groups of people from outside the country were formed. One group was given phoros of the prospecrive mothers and prayed for success in their fer tiliey treatment. The second group prayed for the effectiveness of rhe firsr group's prayer, and the third group prayed for the twO orher groups. The findings were so marked rhar they seemed incredi-
Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 17
ble even to the researchers them selves. Nevenheless, the findings support other research and anec dotaI evidence, and researchers intend to continue studying the phenomenon to try to identify rel evant factors.
Turning the Light on Skin Problems A company based in Caesarea has developed a photo-light treatment that has the potential to alleviate the symptoms of acne, eliminare the unpleasant side effects of pres ent treatments, and reduce rhe time before improvement in the condition can be seen. One third of ali visits to dermatologisrs are becallse of acne and millions of dollars are spent annually trying to treat it, often with litde Sllccess. A phototherapy treatment for psori asis has also been developed as well as a treatment for acute ecze)11a. While these conditions m<lY/ not be life-threatening or/ finding effective treatments as dramatic as finding a cure for AIDS or cancer, the psychologícal .benefits as well as the physic-aI benefits will be enonuous.
Dead Sea Th~rapeutic The high-pres.s ure oxygen and concentration or salts in the Dead Sea area, 402 meters below sea level, have been fGund beneficial for patients of ali ages suffering fram cystic fibrosis, \ emphysema, and chronic pulmonary disorder, among other breathing difficul ties. The high-pressure oxygen raises the oxygen content in the blood, allowing patients to exer cise more and enhancing. their overall well-being. Breathing effi ciency in CF patients is improved. The high concentration of miner aIs also helps the breathing of those with respiratory problems and pulmonary disorders. The
absence of pollen is .an added ben efit. Psoriasis and other skin disor ders have been found to benefit Erom the application of the Dead Sea's mud, and immersion in the area's sulfur pools and thermonu clear spri~gs.
Matters of Life and Death StatisticS From lhe Statistical Abstract for 2001 published by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistic~: Life expectan cy fo'r males was 76.6 years (Jewish males 77.1), while life expectancy for women was 80.4 years (Jewish females 80.7). There was an overall 2.3% increase in the population. At 288 people to one sqllare kilometre, Israel has one ohhehighest densi ry populations in the world.
Diabetes VacciÍle D eveloped A vaccine to prevent the onset of Type I diab~tes had been devel oped at rhe Weizmann Instituy~ in Rehovot. 'As many as 120 rilillion to 140 million peo p e are either Type I or Type II diabetics. The vaccine is intended not only for those with a genetic risk for the disease but also for those whose pancreatic beta cells are already damaged. Phase II trials of three injectíons of the vaccine over six months on 200 patients reslllted in an íncrease in production of the patients' own insulin. The ihsulin prodllcrion of those receivíng a placebo declined significarúly with a corresponding íncrease in their need for injections. PhaSe III tríals are due to begin rhis year. A repon on Hadassah Universiry Hospítal's clínical study appea~ed in the November 24 issue of The Lancet.
Herod's Disease Identified A feature of the annual Clínical Pathologic Conference is the
18 SHABBAT SHALOM / Winter 2001
repo'rt of an investigation of the ' cause oE death of an historical character. Prof. Jan Hirschmann of the University of Washington's School bf Medicine researched the disease that killed Herod the Creat (not to be c?.lI fu~ed with Herod Agrippã , his grandson) in 4 B.C.E. Herod's symptoms as described in historical texts included- intense itching, intestinal problems, c6 n. vulsions, and gangrene of the gen italfa'. Focusing on the probable cause of one symptom Prof. Hirschmann then saw how it relat ed to other symptoms. He con cluded that the most likely cause of Herod's death was chronic kid ney disease complicated by Fournier's gangrene.
Religion Strengthens Relationships
Research published III the December issue of the Journal of Family Psychology shows that tak ing part in religious rituais improves mental health by 'strengthening family relationships, increasing marital satisfaction, and fostering a positive attitude in younger generations.
Neitber Fat Nor B[ooô
c[jfforo Go[õsteil1 Eõitor t1l1Õ Author
t shaLl be a perpetua! statute for your generations throughout aLL your dweLLings, that you eat neither fot nor b!ood" (Leviticus 3: 17). This warning, spoken by Moses to the children ofIsrael more than three thousand years ago, is about as valuable health-wise now as then. Though in Moses's time, not much research had been done in cardiology, lipid chemistry, hema tology, and endocrinology, a lot has been done since (particularly in the past 50 years). What it ali shows is that, indeed, putting aside any of the specific theologi cal issues involved such as Leviticus 17: 11 ("For the tife of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul"), the waming against eating fat and blood is simply good dietary principIes, if nothing else. You'd have to be a troglodyte to not know about the danger of heart disease, especially in the Western World, where hundreds of thousands of people are every
year digging their own graves with their teeth. Fatty foods, sucb as the kind of fat found in animaIs, has been implicated in study after study as a powerful factor in the cause of ali sorts of cardiovascular disease, eve rything from strokes, angina, senility, and heart attacks. You don't have to be Aristode to see the correlation: those who have
People are every year digging their own graves with their teeth. the highest intake in their diets tend to have the highest rates of coronary heart disease. The lower the intake, the lower the amount of disease. ln the past, nations such as Russia, Finland, and the United States, with very high fat diets, have had very high rates of coronary disease; nations with much lower intakes, such as ]apan and Greece, have much lower rates. The bottom line is that research has shown a powerful correlation between the amounr of saturated fat, as in animal fat, and the levei
of serum chol esterol; the higher the amounr of this fat, the higher the cholesterol, and as everyone knows by now, the higher the cho lestero!, the greater the risk of car diac problems. Though, as with any scienrific, particularly medical study, other factors are involved that must be considered (use of tobacco, genetics, stress, sex, age, weight, etc.), the evidence in still direct enough: cholesterol kills. How? To make the very compli cated simple, the cholesterol plays a major role in the formation of plaque in om arreries. lt dogs them up, being shoved into defects in the cell wall by blood pressure and other factors. As the plaque increases, it ClltS off the oxygen to ceiIs in the artery, which in tum die and add to the dog, which increases and increases until it cuts off the supply of blood to the heart. The results are, literally, deadly. Or, in some cases (too many actually), the plug breaks off into smaller pieces, where they are moved downstream and c10g up other arteries. That is what is known as a stroke. Again, though many other factors are involved,
Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 19
cholesterol is a key culprit, and animal far can greatly increase rhe levei of cholesrerol in a person's body. Now, Moses's command didn't end wirh far, eirher; ir also has rhe admonirion againsr blood as well. Here, roo, rhough the evidence isn'r as c1ear-cut as with far, research shows rhar we could deh nirely be much berrer off healrh wise wirhour ingesring rhe blood of dead animais into our bodies. One problem has to do wirh blood c1orring, the Lord's amazing
internal mechanism rhar causes our body ro heal irs own wounds (ir's kind of ready-made micro SCOplC ambulance service). C10rring is an exceedingly com plex cascade of enzymaric reac rions rhar req uires the righ t amount and righr balance of rhe needed chemicals. If, however, we ear animal blood, some of irs c1ot ring chemicals ger inro our blood and in some cases can trigger excess c10rring in us, either when ir is nor needed ar ali, or ir can cause roo much c10rring when needed.
Neirher oprion is oprimal. ln rhe hve books of Moses, numerous warnings are given regarding rhe consumprion of far and blood. Theologians have debared for centuries rhe purpose of rhose warnings. Wharever rhe rheological issues, they certainly make some good sense healrh wise, and for a religion such as Judaism, which rakes the f1esh, rhe body, seriously, and views ir as a good rhing, then perhaps healrh marrers can, indeed, be marrers of rheology as well.
"Israel and the Church is required reading, a must; fo r Christians andjews involved in the dialogue, for beginners as well as seminary students. "
Rabbi Leon Klenicki Director Emerirus, Depanrnenr of lnrerfairh Affairs, Allri-Defamarion League
'/ln insightjitl, probing, and candidly refreshing work ...
a necessa/)' read. "
D r. Marvin R. Wilson
Professor of Biblical Srudies, Gordoll College
"Doukhan not only distills a generation o/scholarship to provide the reader with the best short introduction to jewiJh-Christian re/ations available today, but also pro vides numerous quite challenging new perspectives that will make it foscinating }or veterans o/ the dialogue as well as beginners. An instam c/assic. " D,: l:.ugene j. J<zsher Associare Direcror.. Secrerariar for Ecumenical and Interreligiolls Alfairs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Hendricbon Publishers, $19.95 • For information or credit card orders call1-800-385-2001 (Andrews University Bookstoi'e)
20 SHABBAT SHALOM / Winter 2001
Tbe Quest for Hea[tb
et us eat and drink ... for tomorrow we rue" (Isaiah 22:13 NIV) . What is this quest for hea!th? Health is the quest for life, for a longer, fuller life. It is something we work for. Ir is also something which is supposed to last. What we seek in health is permanence, longevity. Health is finally some thing we sacrifice for. Ir is a disci pline; it is asceticism. The book of Ecclesiastes has a totally different outlook on life than our modem conception of health does. Instead of health we find pleasure. Instead of longevity we find the ephemeral. And final Iy instead of work we find grace. It is this different perspective on life that we would like to discuss in this article, as to contrast it with our present-day conception of life-health-as well as perhaps deepen and enrich it.
The Ephemeral Our civilization cannot face this notion . The ephemeral is some-
thing we escape. Ir is taboo. Our pursuit for health is often only another way to dissimulate the traces of the ephemeral character of our lives from our bodies anel faces. Old age, when wc finally face the ephemeral people th at we are, is shunned in our civilization. Old age is something we try to avoid. And so we exercise. The book of Ecclesias tes is there to remind us that !ife is ephemeral and that heal th , as we perceive it, is an impossible goal. ln health we seek perman ence. But life is ephemeral. Our understanding of health , as the quest for longevity and youth , is perhaps distorted. Youth is only one of the many phases of life. Ir comes and passes. Other phases follow. Life is a suc cession of different epochs. There is a time for everything and a sea son for every activiry under heav en. Our modem-day conception of health, however, is the attempt to stay in one epoch, that of )'outh, as long as possible. But life is a stream. Our attempts are vain.
The emphasis on the eph emeral in the book of Ecclesiastes is taken by our civi!ization as pess imistic. Perhaps it is. But perhaps it serves to open our eyes on another dimension of tife that is forgotten in our quest of longevity and per manence: The dimension of pleas ure.
The Pleasure Our quest for health often takes the form of a sacrifice. We sacrifice our bodies, our time, our appetites for health. The book of Ecclesiastes brushes ali these efforrs aside. Eat, drink, enjoy the wife of your youth ... for tomor row we die. We often contrast health with pleasure. What gives us pleas ure is certainly bad for uso Health , the quest of the better good, should control the appetites, the search for imm ediate pleasure. Such a conception is a Greek idea. ln the Bible, we have no such con ception of health. ln the BibJe, life is not a quesr. Life is a gift. The festival of Jife-the Sabbath rem inds us every week of that gifr.
Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 21
Ir reminds us
to brearhe and ir reminds us to live. On rhe Sabbarh, we are asked nor to exer cise and dier, but simply to enjoy. Ir is in facr forbidden to exercise and dier, as work and fasr are pro hibired. On rhe Sabbarh we are reminded rhar life is nor a quesr bur a gift. Life is nor somerhing we work for, bur somerhing we receive. A gifr. Pleasure. The advice of rhe book of Ecclesiasres is rherefore nor ar all a call ro ear, drink, ... and forger. Ir is on rhe comrary a reminder rhar life is a gifr and rhar we should be grareful and rake pleasure in rhar gifr. Our civilizarion has difficul ries, however, in conceiving rhe norion of gifr. Our civilizarion is a civilizarion of achievemenr , of merir; ir is a work-civilizarion. Gifrs are always exchanged. We have no norion of free gifrs, of grace.
The Gift We cannor conceive rhe norion of free gifr because we are too busy
trying to achieve things by our selves. Bur somerimes our effons are vain. And indeed, rhey are vain, for death always has rhe lasr word . Ir is rhis truth rhar our civi lizarion rries ro mask in irs rush for success, achievemenr, and . . . healrh. Bur in fact we are norhing. And ir is only when we realize thar we are nothing rhar our eyes are opened to the immense diversiry of gifrs rhar fiJl our Iives. Ir is only when we realize rhar life is a desen in which all our effom are des rined to wilr and die, that we can rake note of the freshly fallen manna wairing to be garhered. Bur rhis gifr which is bestowed on us is irself ephemeral. Ear, drink ... for this roo is a gifr from God. The gifr is ephemeral. Earing and drinking are ephemeral activi ties. They do not last funher than the momem of enjoyment. The gift is never ours to hold. God gives and God rakes away. This is why we are grateful for each instam. Because life is never ours to grasp. The insram comes and
22 SHABBAT SHALOM ! Winrer 2001
passes. We treasure it like a pre cious pearl. Our perception of life becomes richer. Each instanr has a nuance of irs own. Our eyes were fixed on rhe skyline of achieve menr, of rhe berrer good. They are now sensirized to the complexiry and beaury of their presenr sur roundings. We now see the fragile perals ar our feet, brearhe the per fumed air, and feel rhe person next to uso lndeed, each insranr is a gifr which is given and raken away. Each instanr is a new crearion and we never lmow what is yer to come. Life is a journey into the unknown. But we should not be afraid, because our life flows from God.
Healthy Jewish Cooking Steven Raich/en l'lew York' Viking Penguin, 2000 200 pp., $ 29.95
Raichlen, the James award-winning Beard author of the High Flavor, Low-Fat series serves us another delec table delight: Healthy Jewish Cooking. The more than 175 recipes (with 21 full-page color pho tographs) come with warm family memories and the traditional tasty dishes of his childhood, now rein vented to lower the fat contento My personal favorite: the vegetable cudets with tomato mush room gravy on page 107 were simply delicious. Be sute to read the introductory sections on "The Ten Commandments of Healthy Jewish Cooking," "A Note About Special Ingredients," and ''A Quick Guide to the Kashrut." These are delicious foods that can be enjoyed guilt-free. As Raichlen says in the introduction, this food "will satisf)r your soul without clogging your arteries,"
Jewish Perspectives Illness and Healing
Ellen C. Lcvine Danbury: Rut/edge Books, 2001 189 pp., $15.95
Levine draws from the wisdom and practices of Judaic faith to provide a holistic perspective of health. Fresh insights are provided from sources such as the Tanakh, Maimonides, Jewish mysticism, and Hebrew word study. The book is divided into 18 chapters, according to a practice called Gematria, which rep resents the numerical value of chai. Chai is the Hebrew word for life, and that is what this book points to: life! Health, according to Levine, is not merely caring
fOl~ your physical body. One l11ust find one's path in life. Being an authentic, true person will help to heal yout sou!. Using the principIes of Judaism, Levine guides the reader into finding this path. An integral element in maintaining health involves nurturing the spirit. If you are seeking a way to gain control over your physical and emotional lives, this book is a good resource to help you devel op spiritual awareness to facilitate that contro!.
The Healing Connection HCZi"czl G. Koenig with Gregg Lewis Nashville: Wonl Publishing, 2000 211 pp., $ 21.99
The Healing Connection asks the question, "What does your religious faith have to do with the state of your health?" This book, with its 14 chap ters divided into three parts, sets out to answer that ques tion and to explore the power fuI link between faith and health. Part one is Koenig's personal testimony of how faith brought healing for the depression, emotional struggles, and mentally-ill behaviors in his own life. Part two focuses on Koenig's research findings as a medical scientist on how one's religious commitment impacts one's physical and mental health. Findings include: "those people who have a strong faith and use this faith to help them cope experience less depression and less anxiety over their problems and adjust more quickly . . . people who are actively involved in the religious community may have more stable immune systems that are better able to fend off infection" (p. 94). Part three discusses the implications of the health and spirituality research. Koenig concludes by encouraging persons of faith to both enjoy the divine-healing connection and become the healing connection for others.
Winter 2001 / SHABBAT SHALOM 23
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