By the Grace of G‑d
27 Teves, 5712 [1952]

Greetings and Blessings!

I1 received your letter of 24 Teves in which you describe your situation — how you saw the doctor’s report, how it affected you, how you imagine the future, and how you therefore recite Tehillim79and make your requests of G‑d. You then ask for my view of the subject.

In reply: The fact that you say Tehillim and make your requests of G‑d is certainly a good thing, for He is the master2 over the whole world and over every single person in all his particulars. However, with regard to your description of how you became absorbed in the doctor’s report and how you envisage the future, I do not share your approach, because this is not your affair at all. Not for this were you created.

As the learned R. Dov Yehudah Schochet writes to me, you are a person who is committed to the Torah and its commandments. It is therefore certain that you believe that G‑d is the L‑rd of the universe, the master of the world. We observe that even in the administration of a mortal undertaking, a good manager has everything departmentalized so that no factor interferes with another, and every component serves its intended purpose. If this is true of management by a mortal, who is finite in every respect and accordingly can sometimes err, it is most certainly true with regard to G‑d’s management: everything, wherever it may be, must find its aim and its consummation in its mission. If a person grasps and tackles something else, this entails two drawbacks: (a) since he is not suited to that task he can only do damage, and (b) this involvement diverts him from fulfilling the mission for which he is in fact designated.

All of the above is applicable to your case, because of a number of circumstances that are certainly determined by Divine Providence: your profession is not that of a doctor, and you were brought up as an observer of the Torah and its mitzvos. From this we learn two things: (a) medical matters are not your Divinely-ordained mission in this world, and (b) your goal, the mission for which you were created, is the observance of the Torah and its commandments.This includes the commandment that3 “you shall love your fellow as yourself” and that4 “you shall surely rebuke [your colleague].” It also includes the interpretation appearing in Tanna dvei Eliyahu5 on the verse,6 “If you see a naked man, clothe him.” On this verse the Sages teach: “If you see a fellow Jew who is naked of Torah and its mitzvos, endeavor to clothe him with Torah and its mitzvos.”

From the above it is clear that when you express your evaluations and opinions in matters of medical science, first of all this deflects you from the fulfillment of the mission for which you were designated. Secondly, as to your medical treatment, you can only (G‑d forbid) cause harm, but on no account improve things. The harm here can be brought about (G‑d forbid) because, as a result of aggravation, you imagine things that will not be. This weakens [the conduit of your blessings]7 and also your trust in G‑d, when you are engrossed in the contemplation of what this doctor said, and what that other specialist thought up, and so forth.

Since you ask my view, I am telling you: You should conduct yourself as the holy Torah requires you to do, and in the spirit of what the Torah states — that it has given permission to heal.. Bava Kama 85a, on Shmos 21:19. This means that the Torah has given people permission to consult doctors, and has granted doctors the permission and the possibility only to heal and rectify them. This is why people commonly consult doctors and then follow their instructions. There is nothing more for you to do in this matter: you should leave it all to the doctor. What you should do is to place your certain trust in G‑d that you will be blessed with many long years.

It is written,8 “The awe of G‑d [leads] to life.” Accordingly, the stronger your trust in G‑d, and the fewer your doubts in that trust, and the more you devote yourself to fulfilling your above-stated mission in this world of observing the Torah and its mitzvos and also of influencing others to do likewise, the more long years will you be granted. This is to be understood literally, without resorting to any ingenious interpretations.9

Completely forget about the report and about what you have been reading in medical books, because that is not your mission and is altogether not your affair. Accordingly, it cannot improve things for you; generally, doing this only achieves the opposite, G‑d forbid.

See to it that every morning, after davenen,. I.e. (Yid.): praying; the prayers. you read the daily portion of Tehillim (as it is divided up for the days of the month), and study Chumash with the commentary of Rashi every day. You should also participate in the local group sessions of Torah study, with at least one of those sessions being devoted to the study of Chassidus.34And it goes without saying that you should set yourself the goal — as the Baal Shem Tov expected of chassidim — of fulfilling the command of the verse,83 “Serve G‑d with joy.” The obligation to “serve G‑d” applies not only to praying and studying Torah but also to eating and drinking and whatever else a person does (including even sleeping), as Rambam writes in Hilchos De’os.10 If you act in this way, you will begin to feel better and better and will become healthier and healthier, and will be able to give me good news about this.

It would be appropriate to donate a few pennies to tzedakah before the morning and afternoon prayers every day (excepting, of course, on Shabbos and Yom-Tov).

I hope, and I am certain, that you will accept my above suggestion and directives, and that you will keep me informed as soon as possible.

With blessings for good health and a speedy recovery — and for many long and goodly years may you fulfill your mission in this world with a peaceful mind and a restful body, and may you be a real chassid.


P.S. You no doubt participate in the chassidishe farbrengens102that are held [...] in your city.11