In reply to your letter of Sunday in which you describe the state of your health, particularly regarding your eyes:

According to your description, it seems that you are suffering from glaucoma. In such instances it is customary to operate a second time as well, although — understandably — this should take place only after a top eye specialist advises that such an operation is necessary.

There are many such specialists in Eretz Yisrael. Consult with them — and [know that] “the Torah has granted permission for the healer to heal.”

Also, it is known that one of the segulos for healing one’s eyes is — in light of the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory regarding a person’s sight — that one should be scrupulous in making Kiddush and Havdalah over wine.1

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 326)

Loss of Sight as a Result of a Fall

To an individual whose daughter lost her sight as a result of a fall, the Rebbe wrote the following:

In response to your letter of the 2nd of MarCheshvan, in which you write about the health of your daughter shetlita with regard to her eyes, and the opinion of the doctors [that you travel with your daughter to an eye specialist in Boston]:

First of all, before you decide on this trip, it is customary for the attending physician to send to the specialist who will be visited — in this case, the doctor in Boston — a description of the state of the patient’s health, as well as the course of treatment.

It is also my understanding that many individuals in the Holy Land consult with medical specialists in Switzerland. It would be advisable for you to do so as well; surely among your friends in Eretz Yisrael you will find those who possess many contacts with physicians in Switzerland.

The actual matter itself, as you describe it in your letter, is also not quite clear: The amount of pressure in the eyes is something that is easily determined; it is thus unclear to me how this matter is in doubt.

Moreover, if this ailment came about suddenly, then it is quite possible that the loss of sight resulted from shock (a psychological trauma) — and you do not mention at all in your letter whether this possibility was investigated.

If this is indeed so, then there are specific manners of healing this [psychological trauma].

Although loss of sight due to psychological trauma is an obvious possibility [and thus may already have been investigated,] nevertheless I found it necessary to draw your attention to this possibility as well.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 68)

Removal of a Cataract

.. Regarding your question about the removal of the cataract:

Since the medical specialist says that there remains some degree of vision in the eye and there is no need to rush to operate, it would be better not to operate [for the time being].

However, it would be appropriate for you to visit the doctor from time to time, or to ask him in advance when he wants to see you again, in order to retest the eye.

May the “Healer of all flesh” direct you in the best possible path to obtain overtly revealed goodness.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 3152 )

Possible Eye Removal

In reply to your letter from the 7th of Menachem Av in which you describe your health status, primarily with regard to your eye:

I am not at all pleased by that which you write, that it has already been two years since you have begun to feel something in your eye and nevertheless you have yet to go to the doctor. However, “one does not gripe about the past.”

As to the present: It is my opinion that you seek the advice of two eye specialists who specifically specialize in this particular field, and try to get them to treat you with all available medications and forms of treatment prior to suggesting the removal of the eye, G‑d forbid.

Be strong in your bitachon that the removal of the eye will not be necessary. I surely need not make you aware that you should be scrupulous in the observance of Kiddush and Havdalah, which — in the words of our Sages, of blessed memory — has an impact on the “luminary of the eyes of man.”

Also make an increased effort in your studies in pnimiyus haTorah, in keeping with your present circumstances. I await hearing glad tidings from you.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 278)

Removal of Cataracts

.. With regard to an operation for the purpose of removing cataracts, which the doctors are urging you to do:

You write [that you are being urged by] “doctors,” in the plural — surely you mean that among them there are at least two eye specialists.

That being so, there is nothing to be overly concerned about, since this type of operation has already become very common; moreover, the precautions that are to be taken [in this surgery] are also known [and the surgeons surely are aware of and follow these precautions].

It also follows that there seems to be no reason for you to travel to another country to have this operation — and [this is so] for many reasons.

As to which physician you should choose:

There is the well-known tale that I heard from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory:

There were two candidates to serve as mohel, circumcisor, for one of the grandchildren of the Tzemach Tzedek. One of them was older but well versed in the mystical intentions (“kavanos”) associated with the rite of circumcision, while the other was younger, [with a steadier hand, etc.,] but of a much simpler nature.

Upon being asked which of the two should be chosen, the Tzemach Tzedek replied that the younger one be chosen, for the actual incision, [i.e., that the actual bris be performed in the best possible manner,] is of the greatest import.

[So, too, the criterion for the surgeon is not religiosity, etc., but the one who is the better surgeon].

May the A-lmighty send His healing words and effect a complete healing through the medium of the surgeon of your choosing.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 232)

Removal of an Eye

[This is] in reply to your letter of the 5th of MarCheshvan, in which you notify me that another two eye specialists are of the opinion that the eye should be removed — and that there are two possibilities: either to remove the eye entirely and replace it with a glass eye, or to just remove the pupil:

It seems to me that if this removal is truly necessary, it would be better to completely remove the eye. Nevertheless, with regard to this matter as well, [i.e., whether or not it should be a total removal,] you should consult these doctors and follow their instructions.

May G‑d grant you hatzlachah that the operation go well and that you shortly return to good health so that you be able to grow and advance in your study of the Torah, both in the revealed portion of Torah as well as in Chassidus — something that will also serve as a vessel and vehicle to receive G‑d’s blessings in all matters.

With blessings for good health, both materially and spiritually.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 26)

Severing the Optic Nerve

[With regard to your daughter’s eye problems:]

It would be worthwhile for you to have a consultation with (at least) two or three specialists at Memorial Hospital or at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, [Minnesota,] and follow their instructions.

However, do not agree — if they so counsel — to have her undergo a surgical procedure in which they would sever the optic nerve, which would mean immediate blindness, G‑d forbid.

May your daughter have a full and speedy recovery, and may you merit to see her grow to Torah, the marriage canopy and good deeds. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 401)

Contact Lenses3

The Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, relates that the Rebbe refused to use contact lenses. Similarly, he responded to several Chabad women and girls: “It’s not worthwhile.” “Don’t use them (if possible).” “My opinion against using them is well known.”4

According to Rabbi Groner, the Rebbe did not seem to differentiate between “soft” or “hard” lenses.

(Mind Over Matter, p. 344)

Spiritual Advice For Improving One’s Eyesight

Partaking in Public Torah Lessons

I received your — undated — pidyon nefesh, in which you write that your eyesight has diminished and until now the eye specialist has given you nothing to improve the situation:

It would be advisable that you visit another specialist, as the Torah requires that we also act [and effectuate healing] by natural means.

In addition, I suggest that you partake in public Torah lessons, as well as to make a point of learning, or at least reciting, several lines from the books of Tanya and Zohar [on a daily basis].

I hope that you will be able to convey glad tidings to me regarding the improvement of your eyesight.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 154)

Learn Several Lines of Zohar and Tanya Daily

It pleased me to receive regards from you through ... and to learn that — thank G‑d — your health status and your vision has improved. Surely, in the future as well, you will continue to observe those matters about which I have previously written to you.

In addition, it would be beneficial for you to increase your Torah study, studying on a daily basis yourself, or having recited to you, several lines from the sacred works of Zohar and Tanya, in which there is regularly found the expression “Come and see”— this being a command of our holy Torah to palpably see G‑dliness.

This will also serve as a segulah and a means of healing your physical eyesight so that you will see properly [in the physical sense], as well as being able to see [in the spiritual sense] how all physicality was created and continues to exist by dint of G‑d’s Divine words — the “Power of the Creator within the created.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 280)

Enhanced Spiritual Vision Leads to Enhanced Physical Vision

It pleased me to receive your letter in which you inform me about the health of....

It would seem from your letter that his health has improved somewhat, and I hope that in your next letter you will be able to inform me that his vision is improving, so that with the passing of time he will be able to write to me himself. May G‑d, the “Healer of all flesh, and Performer of wonders,” hasten his recovery.

There is a famous saying of our Sages:5 “Who is wise? He who sees that which will be born [from his actions].”

Chassidus explains this to mean [that wisdom lies in] seeing the birth of Creation from non-being to being (from ayin to yesh) every moment of the day.

For as explained in Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah of the Alter Rebbe, Creation is not a one-time event that only transpired during the Six Days of Creation. Rather, the Divine Utterance is constantly creating all of creation from non-being to being [in every moment].

The same is true with regard to each and every Jew — his physical health is dependent upon his spiritual health, [just as the physical aspect of creation is constantly dependent on the spiritual aspect that is always creating it anew].

When an individual feels a weakness in one of his bodily parts he goes to a doctor, for it is incumbent upon us to also act in a natural manner, and “the Torah has granted permission (which also means it has empowered) the healer to heal.”

But along with the above, it is also necessary to examine the weakness of the spiritual [counterpart of the physical] organ — in this instance, [the deficiency in] one’s spiritual power of sight that enables him to see how all of physicality is born every moment from non-being to being.

The above is not intended as an academic teaching: rather, it is intended that you rouse ... sheyichye to strengthen himself in the study of Toras HaChassidus, beginning with the study of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah cited above.

Thank you very much for making the effort to transmit all the above to ... sheyichye. Just as you took upon yourself to be an emissary to write to me about his health situation, surely you will take upon yourself to be my emissary with regard to what I have written in this letter, assisting as well in helping ... to bring all the above into actuality.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 186)

The “Luminary of Torah” Assists in Illumining One’s Vision

I was informed about the state of your health, and later [I was also informed] about the results of your eye operation — that, thank G‑d, it was successful.

May G‑d grant that your health continuously improve, so that you will be able to study Torah and serve G‑d with increased strength, inasmuch as a hale and hearty body is part and parcel of Divine service.

You have surely heard of the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov that within any event occurring to an individual, and from everything one sees or hears, there is a hidden lesson and directive that applies to the person’s Divine service.

Most assuredly this is so regarding a crucial event in a person’s life, such as that which you have undergone [with regard to your sight], as a person’s vision is one of the most vital components of his being.

This is also underscored in the revealed portion of Torah, where [it is stated, at least] (according to one opinion), [that] only a sighted person is obligated and merits to perform all the mitzvos; [only a sighted individual] is truly considered alive, etc., etc.

You are also no doubt aware of the expression of our Sages, of blessed memory, with regard to the power of sight, that it is referred to as the “‘luminary’ eyes of man.”

Everything our Sages say is extremely exact, inasmuch as every single word of our holy Torah was given by G‑d to Moshe at Sinai, as the Rambam rules in Hilchos Teshuvah, ch. 3, par. 8.

“Man is a microcosm of Torah.” Just as “G‑d looked into the Torah and accordingly created the macrocosmic world,” so too with regard to man, who is called “a small world” (Tanchuma, beginning of Parshas Pekudei, and Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 69, p. 100b, et al.).

[Because of the similarity between the macrocosmic world and the microcosm of man,] it follows that the “‘luminary’ eyes of man” is the counterpart to the luminary aspect that is found in Torah, and as stated in the beginning of Eichah Rabbah, “The luminary within it, [i.e., within Torah,] will return him, [i.e., the sinner,] to the good.”

“The luminary of Torah” refers to the esoteric portion of Torah, the “‘hidden’ aspect of Torah,” that leads the person to awe and love of G‑d, as our Sages, of blessed memory, state (in Shabbos end of 31a) and as is explained in Likkutei Torah of the Alter Rebbe, at the conclusion of the Torah portion of Vayikra.

In these later generations, this [luminary] aspect of Torah has been revealed in Toras HaChassidus in such a manner that each and every individual can understand [the “esoteric” and the “hidden”] full well, as explained at length by my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory, in Kuntres Limud HaChassidus.

The above is not intended as an academic teaching, but that you act on this matter: that henceforth you firmly resolve to establish a regular study session in Chassidus. This resolve will itself speed the healing process of your eyes, so that very soon you will be able to actualize this resolve.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 143)

Spiritual Assists for Aiding One’s Vision

Honor the Torah and Its Students

In reply to your letter of Rosh Chodesh Kislev, in which you write that the doctor is advising you to have surgery on your eye:

I surely need not make you aware that you should be scrupulous in the observance of Kiddush and Havdalah, as this has an impact on the “luminary of the eyes of man.”

So, too, with regard to an increased effort in matters relating to honoring the Torah and those who study it — in keeping with the verse, “For a mitzvah is a candle, and Torah is light.”

As G‑d recompenses “measure for measure,” this [scrupulous] conduct will serve to strengthen and enhance your vision, the “luminary” of your eyes.

Establish regular Torah study sessions in the exoteric portion of Torah and in the esoteric Toras HaChassidus, doing so in a broad and ample manner and in good health.

With blessings for a speedy recovery.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 80)

Taste the Kiddush Wine
And Touch Your Eyelids With Havdalah Wine

I received your letter, and at an auspicious time I will pray for your good health at the sacred resting place of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory.

In all probability, you hear Kiddush and Havdalah and also taste of the Kiddush wine. [Conduct yourself as well] in accordance with the Jewish custom of dipping the finger in the remains of the Havdalah wine and touching the eyes — understandably, the outside of the eyes, [i.e., the eyelids,] which as stated in Sefarim is a segulah for the “‘luminary’ eyes of man.”

May G‑d see to it that your actions meet with success.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 225)

Added Measure of Chassidus Study on Shabbos

In reply to your letter in which you describe your health status, particularly with regard to your eye:

Surely you will continue to follow your doctors’ instructions, and may G‑d send His healing words and heal you.

I surely need not remind you of the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory, that scrupulous observance of Kiddush and Havdalah have a particularly beneficial effect on the “luminary of the eyes of man.”

In addition to the above, you should increase your amount of Chassidus study on Shabbos. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 304)

Assist in Illuminating the Synagogue

.. Concerning your notification to me that the doctors decided to operate on Mrs. ... tichye’s one eye without much delay, may it be G‑d’s will that the operation be successful and that she soon return to unfailing good health.

I am not familiar with the custom there, but if there is an “eternal flame” (a ner tamid) in the shul, she should participate in its upkeep (but she should not pay for placing one there if there is none). If there is none there, then she should undertake for a period of time to pay for the lighting costs of the shul.

Surely she lights candles erev Shabbos and Yom Tov. It would be beneficial for her to give some tzedakah to the charity of R. Meir Baal HaNesprior to candle lighting. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 161)