Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Best Doctors

When Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, was sick, he was treated by a certain doctor with great self--sacrifice. Night and day, this physician was on call to do everything in his power to help him get well.
Once, this doctor asked the Rav, “Rabbi, I really cannot understand the mishnah in Kiddushin 82 which states that the best doctors go to Gehinom. Is this a fitting reward for a doctor who gives his all and faithfully treats his patients with skill and caring?”
The Rav smiled slightly and replied, “This is not the meaning of the mishnah. Surely, the fate of a doctor is not predetermined to Gehinom! Rather, this is an exhortation to the doctor regarding his approach to his patients. He should not expect that they are in the serene state of those who feels connected to Gan Eden. On the contrary, the life of a sick man is a living hell and it is into that place that the best doctors must be willing to venture to treat the severely ill!”
On another occasion Rav Sonnenfeld explained why this could not be taken literally. “Does not the gemara say that saving one Jewish life is like saving an entire world?”
When Rav Aharon of Belz, zt”l, was in Pest, a certain doctor wished to see him but was brusquely rebuffed at the door by the gabbai. “It is not a good time to see the Rebbe now,” he claimed.
When the Rebbe asked him what that was all about, the gabbai answered, “Some doctor. ‘The best of them go to Gehinom!’”
“Chas v’shalom!” the Rebbe vehemently replied. “You do not understand the meaning of that gemara. Chazal tell us of the great self-sacrifice of the best doctors. While treating their patients they feel that they stand on the brink of Gehinom since one false move can cause irreparable damage or death, G-d forbid…”
The Rebbe immediately ordered that the doctor be found and ushered in to see him.


Yaakov said...

metsuyan reb micha!
this is excellent.

i hope people will pass this on to any doctors they know. and nurses too.

often, unfortunately, doctors may get a 'bad rap' when in fact most them are seriously dedicated to helping people.

so glad to read this.

yasher koach!

Micha Golshevsky said...

B'simcha rabbah!