Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 8th Berakha: Grant us good health

refa-enu haShem venerafe...

"Heal us, You, Oh God, and we will be cured..."

In this berakha we acknowledge God Almighty as the ultimate rofe ('healer', in modern Hebrew 'Doctor') because we Jews believe that our cure is ultimately in Gods' hands.

'Health/cure' is actually a good example of the complex dynamics and interaction between man's freedom of choice and God's intervention in our lives.

From one side, many illness are self inflicted, because we choose to eat wrong, practice wrong habits or because we don't take good care of our body to prevent sicknesses.

From the other side, if we are sick -regardless of whose fault it is- the Tora forbids relaying just on God's grace, hoping the illness will vanish and mandates to seek a physician's intervention (verapo yerape).

But this berakha makes clear that still, it is God who cures us, via His 'agents' (harbe shelichim lamakom). We believe that God acts through the brain and the hands of the surgeon in the operation room. It is ultimately Him, by means of myriad of agents -doctors, researchers, nurses- who brings healing and alleviates the sick. Physicians are God's privileged proxies. God is behind man's wisdom to develop medicines and man's ability to cure sickness.

We visit the doctor, we take the medicine and we do everything possible to cure ourselves.
But we pray and appeal to God. Recognizing Him as the ultimate 'physician'. The ONE that has the final say.