.. My intent is not to lecture — rather, my intent is that the [previously mentioned] words have a practical effect:

Now that you [are out of the hospital and] back home, and not under the constant supervision of doctors, [you must see to it that you] don’t overly exert and strain yourself. On the contrary, follow the instructions of the doctors and seek to be physically healthy — and thereby you will be spiritually healthy as well. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 245)

Necessity of Spiritual Farsightedness In the Healing Process

It pained me to hear that you have not been feeling well lately, and moreover, that you have not been careful in following the doctor’s instructions.

I heard many times from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, the statement of his father, the Rebbe [Rashab] Nishmaso Eden:

“See how precious the body of a Jew is [to G‑d] — for its sake has [G‑d] poured forth so much [Torah and mitzvos].” For as is known, Torah and mitzvos were specifically given to souls clothed in physical bodies and not to angels.

Since the body is so precious to G‑d, it follows that we are to be scrupulous in guarding [the health of our body,] which G‑d placed in our trust.1

Our Sages have informed us (Berachos 60a) that “Permission was granted the healer to heal.” Consequently, a doctor acts with the Torah’s permission and [moreover,] in accordance with its command [“and he shall heal”].2

Thus, most assuredly, even if — by following the doctor’s orders — one must temporarily forgo the fulfillment of a “good custom” or the observance of a mitzvah in the most scrupulous and beautiful manner, and so on, the Torah will amply compensate him (“vet di Torah nit bleiban kein baal choiv”) [for following the doctor’s orders].

Forgoing for a short while, [i.e., until you feel better,] a “good custom” or observance of a mitzvah in the most scrupulous and beautiful manner will result in your being able to strengthen your observance of Torah and mitzvos many more times so, for many long and good years.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 297)

“Unproductive” Healing Time
Ultimately Results in Much More Productive Time

I was notified about the status of your health, and I hope that you are experiencing a daily improvement.

To someone like you I certainly don’t need to emphasize that our holy Torah, the Torah of Life, provides the physician with permission to heal — from which we understand that we are obligated to fulfill the instructions of the doctor.

Although the thought does creep in at times that one is wasting time with matters of healing and resting and the like; nevertheless, even a small degree of reflection — in light of the above saying of our Sages [about a doctor being given permission to heal] — leads to the understanding that [the healing process] is not a waste [of time].

On the contrary — the small amount of time (that the person thinks is being) wasted results in a profit of much time in the future, time that can be utilized by the person in the service of G‑d “in all his ways” — in keeping with the directive of our Sages, as explained at length in Toras HaChassidus — with joy and gladness of heart.

With blessings for a speedy recovery and that you may be able to convey glad tidings regarding all the above.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 75)

Sometimes Reducing Study Time for Health Reasons
Is the Best Spiritual Course

.. In general, it is a sound suggestion that the particular individual [about whose ill health you are writing], should, at least temporarily, reduce his study-time and occupy himself with physical labor or with office work.

If, as you indicate in your letter to me, he continues to refuse to do so, [i.e., he insists on spending all his time studying,] then he should be led to understand that at times one best serves G‑d by refraining from Torah study [“Eis la’asos laHashem” is through “heifeiru Torasecha”].

This is stated as well by the Great Teacher, [HaMoreh HaGadol] the Rambam, in Hilchos Deos, at the conclusion of ch. 3 and the beginning of ch. 4.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 56)

Travel to a Health Spa

You write to me about traveling to Tiberius [for reasons of health] and enumerate the pros and cons:

You will pardon me, but [your reasons for not doing so] are similar to a merchant who hesitates to open a store since it would entail a monetary investment — renting a place of business, purchasing merchandise, etc.

However, by not investing, the person denies himself the opportunity to recoup his investment one-hundred fold; in this world nothing can bring benefit without first investing spiritual or physical effort or money. Once the investment is made, however, the return on the investment is manifold.

The same is true with regard to your journey: namely that the unpleasantness associated with your trip to the Hot Springs of Tiberius pales in comparison to your ability to benefit so many more times over [in terms of improved health] for many good and long days and years, benefits that will result from your taking this trip.

If only you would have traveled there last year... but one does not remonstrate about the past.

I mention this only to prove that such a journey is not only permissible and far outweighs any of the negative aspects that you mention, but is also highly desirable — even benefiting [in the long run] those who might temporarily suffer from your undertaking this journey.

With blessings, and hoping to hear glad tidings from you, and to a healthy winter in all aspects. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 213)

Travel to the Seashore

In reply to your letter of the 11th of Menachem Av in which you write about the state of your health and that the doctor told you to spend some time at the seashore:

It is proper for you to do so, particularly as “the Torah has granted permission for the healer to heal,” [and if he instructs you to do so, you are to obey his instructions].

Understandably, you should do this joyfully and gladly, particularly in light of the verse:3 “Man’s steps are established by G‑d,” and the explanation offered by my father-in-law, the Rebbe, that individual Divine providence leads man [to a particular place for a specific purpose].4

.. This joy will assist you in improving your health, as well as in fulfilling your spiritual mission [of purifying and improving something specific] in that location.

I surely need not emphasize to you again that your mission there should be fulfilled in keeping with the doctor’s instructions, i.e., without harming your physical health in the slightest.

Since both matters, [fulfilling your spiritual mission in that location and improving your health,] are mitzvos (since “Maintaining a healthy and whole body is an integral part of Divine service”), you will surely be able to do both. Moreover, one will assist in the performance of the other, inasmuch as “One mitzvah brings about another.”5 ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 305)

“The Loss Is Made Up by the Gain”

This is in reply to your letter in which you describe your health situation, particularly your hoarseness:

You [write that you] have consulted with physicians and they could not find a specific cause [for your hoarseness], but they have ordered rest, at least that you rest your vocal chords by keeping your speech to a minimum. You then go on to describe in detail how difficult it is for you to observe [this directive] in light of your work and position.

With regard to such behavior [of following the doctor’s orders], one may well say — along the lines of the saying of our Sages — “The loss is made up by the gain.”6 That is to say that what may seem to be a temporary loss [in your ability to fully do your job] will be more than made up by the ensuing gains [that will result] from resting your vocal chords. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 189)

One Mitzvah Cannot Possibly Conflict With Another

.. With regard to your health:

In general, you should conduct yourself according to the instructions of your doctor. Surely you can arrange things so that [following the doctor’s instructions] will not interfere with your sacred work (avodaso bakodesh).

This is particularly so since even a person’s health, that of “maintaining a healthy and whole body,” is itself “an integral part of Divine service.” It is thus impossible for one mitzvah, [i.e., maintaining your health,] to conflict with another: [your sacred work].

This is especially the case when one [follows the doctor’s instructions] with joy, for this joy breaks and removes all physical barriers. When this occurs, the physical is not too distant from the spiritual, [and your spiritual work and physical health will coalesce]. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 27)

“Nullification” Leads to Gain

.. I strongly hope that upon receiving this letter, you will immediately notify me of good news — that at least from now on you will not interfere with the doctor’s instructions, but will properly follow them.

This is especially so as we readily observe that this “nullification of Torah” (bitulah shel Torah) — if indeed this [conduct, i.e., learning less Torah in order to follow the doctor’s orders] can possibly be considered “nullification” — will soon lead to great profit.

After some time has passed, you will see that [following the doctor’s instructions] will definitely hasten one’s healing, until a complete degree of healing is achieved. At that time you will be able to more than make up the lost time from your Torah study.

This healing will, of course, be impossible to achieve if you do not strictly follow the doctor’s instructions.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 72)

“Celebratory Meal” for Healing and Recovery

It pleased me to be notified about your gathering together for a “celebratory meal” [to offer thanks and praise to G‑d for the recovery of ...].

Such a gathering encompasses two matters of great import: [The first:] “Love your fellow as yourself,”7 which is, “a primary principle in the Torah.”8

[The second:] “Give thanks to the L‑rd for He is good, for His kindness is everlasting”;9 “Let him give thanks to the L‑rd, and [proclaim] His wonders to the children of man.”10

This underscores the principle of G‑d’s creation of the world, for which reason [when He so desires] He is capable of disrupting the natural system and order of events — performing wonders [and miraculously bringing about healing, in order] to benefit man in this physical world.

In accordance with the ruling and directive of the Alter Rebbe that the offering of thanks [for healing] represents and substantiates the individual’s return to full good health (Seder Birchas HaNehenin 13:5, based on the words of our earlier Sages, of blessed memory11 ), may this “celebratory meal” result in your total recovery, so that you return to your former strength in literally all aspects.

G‑d will surely reward all of you [attending this “celebratory meal”] with His form of remuneration, which is “measure for measure, but many times more so,” that all of you be subject to G‑d’s form of healing, which is in a manner of “the malady shall never come to pass” in the first place, unlike man’s form of healing, [which only comes about after illness has struck,] as explained by our Sages, of blessed memory. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 241)