For the second time in the same week, I found myself sitting in the emergency room with my youngest daughter. Yes, the same one who not long ago was in the hospital for severe stomach pain. This time, though, they didn’t release us after the standard tests, but chose to admit us for observation. So, here I sit in her hospital room, hoping to hear that there is absolutely nothing wrong.

After numerous visits from nurses, assistants and doctors, I have reached the conclusion that the hospital is a very optimistic place. And no, it is not the lack of sleep or food talking (that could make another article :) ). But when you spend hours undergoing tests, exams, prodding and poking, you recognize that even the slightest change is appreciated, recognized and focused on. And not only is a change already positive, but the lack of something negative is too.

Here in the hospital it is a given that things aren’t greatUnfortunately, I spend a lot of my time focused on what is wrong, on what could be changed, on what could be better. And that is when, overall, things are really pretty good. But here in the hospital it is a given that things aren’t great. That is the rule. That is understood. So the focus is not on what is wrong but on what is right, how to treat what isn’t right—and not just the symptoms, but the cause.

So, when they did her ultrasound, everything was about what wasn’t wrong. Fortunately, they didn’t see excess water. Fortunately, her appendix looked good. Fortunately, there were no obstructions. But they didn’t stop there. Now the question was figuring out, then, why she was still in pain. And they are not going to send us home until that has been solved.

Outside of the hospital, where the “healthy” people live, for some reason it is okay to be in pain, to live in pain, to settle for pain. Be it emotional pain or spiritual pain. For physical pain we run to the doctor, but so many of us allow other pain to stay in our lives, never pushing to treat the root of the issue. And often, when we have pain, it blocks our ability to see the positive, to focus on what doesn’t hurt. Because pain blocks out other feelings. Pain manages to overwhelm everything else.

The Maggid of Mezeritch teaches us that a small hole in the body causes a large hole in the soul. Meaning that if we don’t get to the root of an issue, it will keep causing more damage, on deeper and deeper levels. On the flip side, we can thereby understand that if we are experiencing something on a soul level, it will eventually manifest on a physical level as well.

If we don’t get to the root of an issue, it will keep causing more damageIt is here, though, in the hospital that they not only try to cure the problem, but teach how to deal with it. First, acknowledge the symptoms, and don’t ignore anything out of the ordinary. Second, dig deeper, test, look for what could be causing the symptoms. Third, treat the root of the problem. And throughout, notice the positive, what is healthy; rule out what it isn’t; and keep going until the root is treated. Unfortunately, all too many of us mask our symptoms, but never get to that deeper level causing the pain. And worse, all too many of us settle for a life of pain . . .

I am hoping they will send us home soon. But before they do, I want to make sure they figure out why we came—the reason for why we came in the first place—so that we don’t have to come back! After all, that is what a hospital is supposed to be. Which is why the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that we shouldn’t refer to it in Hebrew as a beit cholim (“house for the sick”), but as a beit refuah, a “house of healing”—for that is the only option for pain and sickness, to be healed.