Appendectomy

.. Regarding what you wrote about your appendix, [that you are being advised to have it removed]:

I fail to understand the rush to have it removed immediately. Is the doctor demanding that this be done now, or is it merely a suggestion, [in which case there is no reason to rush into it]?

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 103)

Herniated Disc

.. You write that your husband is suffering from a herniated disc:

Lately, in the United States, doctors try to avoid surgery in such instances and use other forms of treatment. Since the doctors in Eretz Yisrael are in constant contact with the doctors here, surely these alternate methods of treatment are known in your locality. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 507)

Ear Surgery

In response to your letter of Motzaei Shabbos Kodesh, in which you write about the health of your wife tichye and the opinion of the doctors regarding [the necessity of] an ear operation:

Seemingly, you are referring to an operation that will facilitate the movement of a small bone in the ear.

If this is indeed so, then you should have the operation performed by a specialist, since this is a relatively simple procedure when performed by a specialist.

By the way, this operation is named after the developer of this operation, Dr. Rosen. Possibly this information will assist you in ascertaining more details about the above procedure.

In any event, in a situation such as this, [i.e., where surgery may be indicated,] one is to rely on the opinion of two doctors who specialize in this particular area.

May G‑d crown your efforts with success, so that you will be able to convey glad tidings with regard to the above, as well as conveying glad tidings in general — and most importantly, with regard to matters of Torah and mitzvos.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 50)

Foot Surgery

In reply to your letter of 7/14, in which you inform me about your state of health, particularly about your feet, and that the doctors are of the opinion that you should undergo surgery:

Attached below is the opinion of a local specialist:1

Since all matters require G‑d’s blessings — particularly when one is in need of an additional measure of blessing, you should therefore, understandably, increase your Torah study and observance of mitzvos; the greater your increase, the greater will be G‑d’s increase of His blessings regarding this matter. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 332)

Gum Surgery

With regard to the suggestion that you surgically remove the entire flesh of the gums, Heaven forfend:

In general, this is a bizarre suggestion, particularly since the idea of the surgery is that this will bring about the regrowth of new gum tissue, etc. — and it is impossible to be completely certain that the tissue will indeed regrow.

Nevertheless, since you write that you received this suggestion from a specialist, you should go to another specialist and hear his opinion in the matter.

In case of doubt — and generally speaking [when matters are in doubt] — taking no steps at all is preferable.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 164)

Hand Surgery

In reply to your letter of the 20th of Tammuz, in which you describe the health situation of your daughter ... tichye and that among the doctors there are those who advise surgery on her hand:

It is not clear from your letter whether this [opinion about operating on her hand] is the opinion of only one doctor or the opinion of many doctors.

Also — and this is of great importance — whether the opinion to operate is based on their inability to determine the cause of the affliction (and it would seem so from your letter, since they have tried various other forms of treatment), or they do know the cause and the different forms of treatment are all related to that particular ailment — only that the other forms of treatment were not successful.

Surely you will determine all the above and make your decision accordingly.

I also want to add: In these types of operations, there is a type where the concern is not so much about the surgery itself, for as you write, the surgery itself is relatively easy, rather the great concern is that it not affect the nerves and muscles that are necessary to maintain proper movement in the finger or fingers.

It would also be worthwhile for you to determine how much of this problem is psychologically related, i.e., not a physiological problem in the finger or of the hand, but in the mind and imagination — that your daughter imagines that whenever she returns to work, the pain returns as well.

[In such an instance,] your daughter would do well to ponder G‑d’s individual Divine providence and the fact that He who oversees each and every individual is also the “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.” Moreover, the verse states,2 [“G‑d will bless you] in all that you do,” with the emphasis on all — no matter how minute [or insignificant] the labor may be.

[If the problem is indeed largely psychological,] it is quite possible that this [form of contemplation] will weaken her imaginings and their related pains.

May G‑d will it that you be able to convey glad tidings regarding all the above. ...

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

Heart Surgery

In reply to your letter of the 21st of Elul, the Month of Mercy, in which you inform me of the doctor’s opinion regarding your health — that there are those who counsel that you have heart surgery.

It is self-understood that deciding on such a step [because of the recommendation of doctors] depends to a large extent on the expertise of the doctors.

Particularly in your situation: According to my information, there are renowned heart specialists who visit Eretz Yisrael from time to time. When this comes to pass, make a joint consultation between them and the Israeli heart specialists.

It would be worthwhile for you to find out whether such an opportunity will present itself in the near future. [If it should,] then ask a physician who is a friend to set up such a consultation for you and notify him of their decision.

May G‑d will it that they succeed in their advice, so that you heal speedily.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 436)

Open Heart Surgery

With regard to your undergoing open heart surgery:

You were able to push it off until now; try doing so in the future as well. May G‑d grant you success. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 118)

Hemorrhoidectomy

I received your letter from Thursday, Parshas Shoftim, in which you describe the health of ... tichye, and you ask my opinion regarding what the doctor told her.

With regard to her having a hemorrhoidectomy: If two specialists in this field concur that the operation is necessary, then she should go ahead and have it. May G‑d grant that the operation be successful.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXI, p. 133)

Double Hernia

In reply to your letter ... in which you write about your health status and that many doctors have advised you to undergo surgery for the double hernia from which you have been suffering for many years:

It is my considered opinion that you should have the surgery, since this is the advice of doctors who specialize in this area of medicine. However, it would be beneficial for you to have the surgery after the summer, and not during these hot summer days. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 276)

Hysterectomy

.. With regard to the second matter, where the doctor suggests that he perform an operation on the uterus:

It is necessary to ascertain from the doctor if his intent is to do a hysterectomy, or whether he just wants to excise the tumor.

If it is the former — and generally, doctors in the United States are all too eager to perform this procedure — then seek the opinion of two additional doctors. If all three are in agreement that a hysterectomy is necessary, then you should do so.

May G‑d grant the doctors the wisdom and insight to make the good and correct decision, and may G‑d send His “healing words” and heal through [the channel of] “this specific doctor and this particular medication.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXI, p. 133)


Kidney Stones


Surgery for Kidney Stones?

.. You write about the health of your wife tichye:

You should consult with specialists, for in many instances people are able to live not only long lives but also good lives without resorting to surgery — it all depends on the size of the stone, its location, and so on.

Since you write in your letter that when your wife sticks to her diet she feels more or less well, I am therefore of the opinion that you should consult with the doctors again.

May G‑d grant the doctors the proper insight — which they are empowered to have by the Torah, for as our Sages say, “Permission was granted the healer to heal” — and may they provide you with the proper advice that will lead to [your wife’s] speedy healing.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 3063 )

Kidney Deposits

.. I reiterate that which I told your brother-in-law orally:

As is known, in situations such as these,4 one first endeavors to flush out the foreign objects found in the kidneys by drinking liquids in general, and appropriate liquids in particular. Since you do not mention this at all in your letter [to me,] it would seem that this has yet to be tried; I wonder why not.

Possibly this method can still be tried, for according to my knowledge, only after this method is tried is thought given to extract the foreign objects from the kidneys with the appropriate device. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 118)

Kidney Stones

In reply to your letter in which you write about your health condition and the opinion of the doctor [regarding your kidney stone]:

You are correct in that which you write, that in many instances similar to yours and possibly even more severe than yours, when one uses appropriate methods, the stone will descend [and exit] without the need of surgery.

Among the measures used are: hot baths [and] drinking copious amounts of liquids — it is also customary that natural plant oil and the like is added to the liquids. It would be worthwhile to inquire of the doctors about this.

It is not quite clear from your letter where the stone is lodged; at times the stone can be shattered with special pincers, making it easier for it to pass.

May G‑d, “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders,” heal you through the correct treatment and the appropriate doctor.

Surely I need not go on at length about enhancing your study of Torah and performance of mitzvos, for in addition to the directive — a matter of primary import in itself — to always attain higher levels in matters of holiness, this is particularly effective in drawing down additional blessings from G‑d, as can be easily understood.

No doubt you are aware of the three well-known daily lessons, those of Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya. [If you have not been doing so until now,] at least begin observing them from now on. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 259)

Surgery for Kidney Stones

.. With regard to your question [about having surgery for the removal of kidney stones]: Act on the advice of a physician who is also a friend.

.. In a gentle manner (so as not to injure the pride of the doctors you mentioned [to me in your letter] at all,) it would be worthwhile to ask them if they have heard that lately there are instances where instead of surgery an implement is inserted noninvasively into the kidney and it crushes the stones there (thus enabling the crushed parts to pass in the urine).

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 3065 )

Kidney Problems

.. You describe your health problems, particularly with regard to your kidneys.

As far as I know, there are great medical experts in Bostonas well as research centers in this field. No doubt you have consulted them, though you do not mention the names of the specialists you consulted.

It is probably not necessary for me to call attention to the fact that there are various methods to break up a kidney stone, either mechanically or through medicines, but you do not mention what treatment has been applied in your case.

As you may know, in order to receive G‑d’s blessings, it is necessary to prepare proper “vessels” ... by enhancing your religious observance. This will surely result in an improvement in your condition.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 4 Shvat, 5713)

Tiny Stones

.. Regarding what you wrote about grit [in the kidneys]:

The opinion of some doctors is that removing them irritates the body into possibly producing them again, while (according to their opinion, at least) when they are left untouched — neither rubbing nor scraping them — it makes matters easier. This is also a good indication that they will not cause you any discomfort at all.

You should therefore consult with another specialist regarding all the above. If the doctors disagree among themselves [as to the best course of treatment,] then it would be best not to take any measures.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 269)

Lumps

I received your letter and telegraphed you my opinion — based on having seen many similar instances — that it is worthwhile to try to treat it with hot compresses, as they succeed in softening those things similar to that which you write about — often healing them completely.

After a short period of time, one can see the results and know whether this was the proper method of treatment. Surely the doctor will agree to this as well. Your decision should therefore be in accordance with the results of the above treatment.

May G‑d, “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders,” heal you through the appropriate treatment and the appropriate doctor. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 83)

Removal of Moles

You write about [your problem with] moles [and that the doctor wishes to excise them]:

Some doctors, however, are of the opinion that when you excise a mole, this simply causes it to grow back again and may aggravate the situation, and it is better (at least according to their opinion) if you do nothing and just leave it alone — provided you do not even scratch or pick at it, etc. Also, the fact that they cause you no discomfort at all is itself a good sign.

Therefore, you should consult with another specialist in this area. Should there be a difference of opinion among them, then it would be better not to excise [them].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 269)

Cautions Regarding a Tonsillectomy

.. You write that some physicians are advising ... to undergo a tonsillectomy, and that they are awaiting a call from the doctor to perform the operation:

Prior to the actual surgery you will certainly inquire again about the doctor’s opinion, since it [also] depends on the weather conditions at the time and on the day they say the tonsillectomy is to be performed.

This is in addition to the fact that presently many doctors are not as assured — as they were in the past — that the removal of the tonsils is advisable or necessary.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 13)

Tonsillectomy

In reply to your letter of the 8th of Sivan ... and your question regarding your health and the opinion of the doctors about the removal of your tonsils:

Regarding such matters, it is customary to rely on the [concurring] opinion of two specialists in the particular area. Doing so fulfills the statement of our Sages, of blessed memory, that6 “The Torah — the Torah of Life, in the simplest [and most tangible] sense as well, in this physical world — has granted permission for the healer to heal.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 183)


In reply to your letter in which you inform me that you have been studying in the [Lubavitcher] yeshivah in Sefarya7 for the past two years and that there is a doctor who is recommending that you immediately have a tonsillectomy:

.. Get the opinion ofan additional specialist in this field. If he agrees that the surgery should be performed and that it should be performed immediately, then [you should do so, and] may it be G‑d’s will that the surgery is successful and take place in a good and auspicious hour.

Recite the entire Tehillim during the Shabbos preceding the operation; do so without pause, if possible, i.e., do not even recite the Yehi Ratzon until you complete all five parts. After you find out, please inform me of the day when surgery is scheduled.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXI, p. 2648 )


Surgery of the Prostate


Prostate Surgery

With regard to prostate operations: The vast majority of surgeons sever (or by other means disconnect) some of the seminal ducts; moreover, they do this even before the actual operation. ...

It is a matter of speculation whether a majority of surgeons would agree not to disconnect seminal ducts at all, but most would certainly agree that any disconnection take place only after the treatment. ...

It should be added that if there were surgeons who would be willing to testify publicly that they had successfully carried out prostate surgery without disconnecting the spermatic ducts, this would almost certainly influence other surgeons to do likewise.

Publicity of this kind is worthwhile even if the results [of this publicity will] possibly be limited. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, p. 309)

Performing Prostate Surgery In a Permissible Manner

.. Moreover — and this is of primary importance:

It is possible to have this operation9 performed [either] in a manner that is permissible according to the Shulchan Aruch, or in a manner [that is not permissible according to the Shulchan Aruch]. If you alert the doctor to this and ask him [to perform the operation in the permissible manner,] he will do so.

(I believe that this particular doctor was asked in similar circumstances by many individuals to perform this operation in a permissible manner; he knows the issues, and he has fulfilled the request.)

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av, 5731)

Prostate Surgery Without Severing the Ducts

.. Surely there is truth to the statement ... that you performed surgery on the prostate without severing the spermatic duct, not even at the conclusion of the procedure. No doubt you are presently performing the procedure in this manner as well.

If this is the case, then it would be worthwhile for you to publicize this in all the medical journals, as this is of great importance to all, since — for example — the doctors in the United States say (and have convinced many rabbis as well) that the ducts must be severed.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 149)

Prostate and Bladder Surgery

.. When I wrote in my previous letter about the difference between [performing surgery of the prostate] according to Jewish law, etc., [or performing it in a manner that may be contrary to Jewish law,]I did not mean to imply the negation of performing such surgery if a specialist deems it to be necessary. Rather, my intent was to demonstrate the various ways that this surgery could be performed — that there are those surgeons who do not sever the duct at all. ...

Moreover, many doctors who do sever the seminal ducts do so after having performed the most crucial aspect of the surgery, at which time there is already a necessity (in their opinion) [to then sever the ducts in order] to prevent complications. This is far different from beginning the surgery with severing the ducts.

I would also like to add [the following]: There are some surgeons who, when performing bladder surgery, will cut and sever in areas close to the incision for the previously mentioned reason of preventing complications. They do this as well in those areas that may be problematic according to Jewish law. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 218)

Surgery of the Scrotum

.. In a similar vein, there are many cases of treatment to loweran undescended testicle into the scrotum; there is also a test to determine where the second testis is to be found; and so on.

These situations too are sometimes treated by surgical intervention, which often involves explicit Scriptural prohibitions against severing and disconnecting [seminal organs],10 even though this can be performed using alternative techniques that are entirely permissible.

The problem here is that parents do not know that these situations raise halachic questions that call for consultation with a competent Rav.

Moreover, some qualified Rabbanim are not aware of the particulars outlined above. In this subject, too, appropriate publicity will no doubt help people avert unwitting transgression.

The above-mentioned remarks also apply to the treatment of scrotal hernia, which involves adults as well as minors. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, p. 310)

Surgery for Ulcers

I am in receipt of your letter of Tuesday, Parshas Matos-Masei, [5712], in which you describe the state of your health and that a doctor recommends that you have surgery [for your ulcer].

With regard to ulcers in general: Doctors most often treat ulcers through diet and mental and physical rest. Understandably, then, this [manner of treatment] is preferable to surgery.

However, since you write in your letter that your ulcer has bled on a number of occasions — which seems to indicate that you have been suffering from ulcers for quite a long time — and that it is difficult for you to maintain the diet, etc., you should therefore consult with two specialists in this field and follow their directives.

As to whether you should travel to Rochester, [Minnesota,] to have the surgery performed there [at the Mayo Clinic]: I see no need for this, as there are competent surgeons in Chicago, so why drag yourself needlessly to a distant location [and] spend extra money, etc.

May G‑d grant the consulting doctors the wisdom and insight to make the correct decision, thus bringing from potential to actuality the ruling of the Torah that “the Torah granted permission (which also means the power) for the healer to heal.” ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 221)

Treatment of Ulcers

.. You write about the state of your health and the varied opinions of the doctors, [some of whom recommend surgery]:

In general, there is something here that I fail to understand; it is well known in this country that ulcers can be treated by diet, if the diet is strictly observed.

The benefit of such treatment is not only to decrease the pain, but also to heal the ulcer. The medications that are given are in addition [to a proper diet] and are provided in order to hasten the healing process, to strengthen one’s health, and to make up for any vitamin deficiency and the like caused by the diet.11

Since you mention nothing about the above in your letter, it may be worthwhile to find out more about this and speak again with the doctor who is treating you.

And after all, man is to employ natural means [to accomplish healing]. May G‑d send you His “healing words” and heal you through the correct treatment and the appropriate doctor. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 92)

Peace of Mind and Proper Diet Before Deciding on Surgery

.. P.S. After writing the above, I received your notification by telephone regarding the course of treatment that your doctors have suggested, and you ask my advice:

As known, one of the most important factors in [healing] ulcers is tranquility and peace of mind — something that depends almost entirely on the patient.

I therefore suggest that you strengthen your bitachon in G‑d, the “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.”12 You can accomplish this by reading and then pondering deeply selected selections [of books] that deal with this subject, such as the [section] Shaar HaBitachon in the book Chovas HaLevavos (from Rabbeinu Bachya ibn Pekudah) and the like.

Additionally, it is well established that a proper diet is effective in such an instance, [i.e., in helping to heal an ulcer] — I believe it is effective in all instances [of an ulcer,] the difference being only in its degree of efficacy.

Therefore, since your situation has been ongoing for some time and the surgery is not urgent, I would suggest that you first try the two solutions mentioned above and see to what degree they ease the situation.

In any event, the auspicious time of the month of Adar begins in only three weeks. In the interim you can assess the results of the two methods suggested above, after which you should again consult with your doctors.

In order to minimize your worries as quickly as possible, I am sending this letter via Special Delivery.

(From a letter of the Rebbe)

Stomach Surgery for Weight Reduction

I am astonished by your question as to whether to become entangled in surgery for reducing the size of the stomach; surgery whose effects are not yet (adequately) known, etc.! And the only reason for this is that the person is overweight?!

This is totally out of the question.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 30913 )

Decision Against Surgery — Only With a Doctor’s Approval

.. You write in your pidyon nefesh for ... that a doctor declared that he should have an operation, but he decided against it. In my opinion, he should find at least one doctor who is in agreement with him [that an operation is not necessary].

(Mikdash Melech, Vol. I, p. 22014 )