Ambulance Service

In conjunction with the benefit Melavah Malkah that is being held this Saturday night on behalf of [the Jewish ambulance service,] Hatzolah, now is the proper time to say a few words about it:

As we still find ourselves in exile, [a time when illness is existent,] ... we still need to approach healing through natural means, as the verse states:1 “And he shall heal,” [i.e., the doctor is thus G‑d’s agent to bring about healing].2

However, here as well (i.e., during times of exile), there are, as is known, two forms of healing: a) after one already became ill, Heaven forbid, he requires the assistance of a doctor and medications to heal him; b) before ever becoming ill, the person takes preventive measures so that he will not become ill in the first place.

This latter form of healing reflects G‑d’s form of healing, which is described in the verse3 as being in a manner of, “No illness shall befall you, for I am G‑d your healer.” Something along these lines can also be accomplished by human beings, as the Rambam states in Hilchos Deos4 — after describing how a person should conduct himself in order to stay healthy — “Whoever conducts himself accordingly, I guarantee him that he will never fall ill ... he will not require a doctor.”

We may well say that in a more sophisticated sense, this [form of preventive healing] also can result from knowing and reflecting about the very existence of healing and healers:

When a person is aware of the existence of healing and healers, this itself brings him some degree of tranquility and peace of mind, thereby assisting him in becoming well. At times it can even act as a means to remain healthy [in which case the person won’t even] have to face a situation where healing becomes a necessity.

Accordingly, we may say that this very fact (that knowing about the existence of healing, doctors, and medications helps a person prevent illness) is accomplished to an even greater extent by knowing of the existence of Hatzolah:

Even if a person is aware of the existence of healers and medications, since they are not in close proximity to him, he may still lack utter tranquility and peace of mind. When, however, he is aware that a Hatzolah ambulance is immediately available and will quickly take him to the physician and healing medications, this in itself will cause him to be calm and serene.

Thereby he will avoid the necessity of ever being in need of an ambulance, knowing as he does that should he ever require one, it will be readily available.

In addition to the above: When a person goes outside and sees a Hatzolah ambulance before his eyes, it serves as an appropriate reminder to obey the instructions of his doctor, who was permitted and empowered by the Torah to heal. He will remember that the doctor told him time and again how he should protect his health, to eat healthily and not be a glutton, etc.

When the person sees the ambulance before him, he realizes that if he does not conduct himself in a healthful manner, he may be in need of the services of this very Hatzolah ambulance. This itself assures that he will never have to deal with a situation where it becomes necessary to use the Hatzolah ambulance.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, p. 3925 )


Health Risks Unique to Hospital

.. I am usually very reluctant to express my view on matters that lie outside my field of competence. However, having glanced through the detailed research program that you enclosed in your letter I decided to share an observation [with you]:

I fail to find among the itemized points of study one aspect which, in my humble opinion, should have been of particular interest.

I am referring to the recognition that certain microbes and infections may be particularly linked to hospitals — a view which, I believe, has received some attention in pertinent literature.

I am not familiar with the details of this problem, but I believe it has to do with the ability of bacteria to develop immunity to antibiotics, as has been established in the case of penicillin, etc.

Hence, it is very possible that methods of infection control that are effective elsewhere may lose their effectiveness because of their continued and consistent application in hospitals, [causing the bacteria to become immune to this form of infection control,] or because the hospital environment has produced certain strains of certain bacteria, which has given them a measure of immunity in that specific environment. ...

I do not know whether the omission of this aspect from your project is due to the fact that a three-month study period would not be sufficient to include an investigation into this area, since, undoubtedly, it would entail the problem of distinguishing “immunized” from “non-immunized” bacteria, etc., as well as the problems of changing methods of sterilization and infection control and clinical observation, etc. Or, simply, because this question is outside your present work.

Yet, it seems to me that this is a question of practical importance and should be well within your field of interest.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated erev Lag BaOmer, 5729)

The Hospital Stay

Take Along a Mezuzah for Your Hospital Delivery

I received your letter of November 12th in which you inform me that you expect to enter the hospital on Tuesday the 20th (tomorrow).

I pray and trust that everything will be well, and that you will soon be able to send me the joyous news [about the birth of a child].

I would suggest that you have with you at the hospital a kosher mezuzah, which should be kept in an envelope within an envelope and wrapped in an oilcloth (or other waterproof cloth). Keep this as near to you as possible, viz., under your pillow or in the table by your bedside, until you leave the hospital.

.. It would be a good thing if you would take upon yourself, jointly with your husband, to contribute (without making a pledge — bli neder) to kosher charities an amount equal to the cost of the delivery. ...

I wish you a good delivery and a normal and healthy offspring, and am looking forward to [hearing] good news of the happy event.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated the 20th of Cheshvan, 5712)

A Mezuzah in the Hospital Room

.. May G‑d help you that the operation be successful and that you be able to convey glad tidings about this.

It would be good if you could have a mezuzah with you in your hospital room. Also, [you should] undertake that as soon as you leave the hospital, you will give some tzedakah for the charity of R. Meir Baal HaNesprior to candle lighting erev Shabbos and erev Yom Tov.

Additionally, you should undertake to recite a chapter of Tehillim in Hebrew daily — if this is difficult for you, then [you can recite it] in English. ...

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXI, p. 2646 )

Alleviating Agitation During a Hospital Stay7

Bring him a Tanya and have him read it occasionally; also [bring him] a (checked) mezuzah, placed in an envelope within an envelope.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 2998 )

Vital Importance of Donning Tefillin During a Hospital Stay

I duly received the pidyon nefesh on behalf of Mr. ...; surely he took along his tefillin [for his hospital stay,] and surely you also gave him the [printed] “Message” from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory.

Make sure to exhort him time and again that he put on tefillin daily — except understandably on Shabbos and Yom Tov. If he cannot do so in the morning, then he should put them on sometime during the day, until sunset; he should do so at least for a brief period of time, although he may have to remove his tefillin immediately after putting them on.

Explain to him that this mitzvah possesses a special segulah for longevity, as our Sages, of blessed memory, state:9 “Whoever puts on tefillin merits a long life.” Consequently, this is not a religious matter alone, but protection from danger and peril.

[Explain to him that] he is to put on tefillin scrupulously [while in the hospital,] regardless of his circumstances concerning the daily performance of Torah and mitzvos while at home.

No doubt you will find the right words with which to convey the above; if necessary, translate what I just wrote into English. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 301)

Assisting Others During One’s Hospital Stay

It would be most appropriate to utilize your hospital stay to benefit other patients as well.

We know not G‑d’s ways; possibly this, [i.e., your being of assistance to others,] is the ultimate reason and the main purpose of your hospital stay — and when you will fulfill your main mission in a goodly manner, the secondary aspect, [i.e., your health,] will improve as a matter of course, since a secondary aspect always follows the course of the primary aspect, [meaning, by fulfilling your primary reason for being there (helping others), your health will improve as well].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 222)

Helping Others During One’s Hospital Stay

Surely I need not encourage you [that during your hospital stay] you should draw those patients who are with you in the hospital closer to our Father in Heaven, doing so in a manner of ahavas Yisroel, as taught to us by our Rebbeimand Nesiim, of blessed memory.

When one assists in enhancing the spiritual health of a fellow Jew, G‑d rewards that person “measure for measure, but many times more so” with good physical and spiritual health. ...

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 29610 )

Inquiries From Relatives Makes for Better Hospital Care

I received your pidyon nefesh for your mother ... tichye.

You need to be strong in your bitachon in G‑d that He will help and that your mother’s health will improve. It is important to assure that she is under the supervision of doctors; if she is in a hospital then she certainly is.

From time to time inquire [of the hospital staff] how your mother is doing; the very act of making this inquiry will have an effect on the hospital staff. When they see that people are concerned with her welfare, it will enhance their attitude towards her.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 145)