The Purpose of Disease

A few weeks ago I was afflicted with terrible tooth pain accompanied by severe headaches. I who haven't been to a dentist or a doctor in 8 years went to get an x-ray. It indicated the need for a root canal. Imagine my devastation. The cavity had been developing for a year, and I chose to ignore it. I knew it was my love of coffee that caused the tooth to decay (as coffee is a very strong acid to the teeth, especially if you already have a cavity). Since I went organic 9 years ago, I cut out all processed junk foods, but coffee was just too hard to quit. The dentist also prescribed an antibiotic for the infection. Of course, I refused to take it.

I decided not to give up on my tooth and get the root canal. The root canal procedure kills the tooth. I figured that if a tooth can be hurt , it can also be repaired. So I embarked on a mission to "heal" both the root, nerve and tooth. I'm taking loads of herbs and supplements. So far, the headaches are down 95% and the toothache is down about 90%. (I will update everyone on my progress in a few weeks.)

However, can I attribute the healing to my own efforts? Absolutely not, in fact, I experienced the greatest healing on Shabbat, when I didn't take any supplements at all. On Sabbath I leave everything up to G-d. I don't do any Hishtadlut (effort). Literally from the moment I lit the Sabbath candles and said a special prayer for my tooth, I felt the difference, the pain virtually disappeared.

So you may ask why do I bother taking any herbs and supplements? For me, its basic hishtadlut (Effort). G-d put special healing powers in various herbs that can help the body. In fact, many Rabbis, such as the Baal Shem Tov, used to use herbs to heal people. The Kli Yakar talks about the healing powers of bitter herbs as well. So I take herbs and I'm eating even healthier than before. For me this is basic minimum effort, like going to work. But it's important to recognize who heals us, who provides us with food and sustenance. G-d.

Bottom Line: Hashem heals.

The pharmaceuitcal industry will have us believe that we will all drop dead any minute from this disease or that illness. They work on our fears to compel us to run to the doctor or the psychologist for every minor problem. Where does G-d fit into all this?

Doesn't G-d allow us to become sick to begin with? Do people really believe that they were randomly struck with an illness? In my case, the root canal was a clear indication that I have to kick my coffee addiction and eat even healthier. In fact, I've decided to cut out all hot drinks entirely and I've taken upon myself to eat lots more greens and alkalizing foods. Maybe there was also a spiritual reason for my toothache.

When you or your child is sick and in pain, its easy to panic, its easy to lose sight of what caused this to happen. Its easy to forget that G-d is in this picture. The fear blocks out all logic. Nothing in life is random. Even "bad" things that happen are all for the good. This is the foundation of Breslev teachings. This lesson is one of the basic tenets of Judaism. In fact there is a famous story in the Gemara (the Talmud) illustrating this point.

Rabbi Akiva would say, “Kal d’avid Rachmana letav avid—What­ever G‑d does, must be for the good.” Rabbi Akiva was on the road travelling. He traveled with a candle, a rooster, and a donkey: the candle so he could study Torah at night, the rooster —to wake him up to study Torah, and the donkey to carry his belongings. Rabbi Akiva stopped at a city. He tried to get a hotel room, to no avail. In addition, no one in the city agreed to let him stay the night. So he had no choice but to sleep in the fields outside the city.

All of a sudden, a strong wind began to blow and extinguished the candle. A few moments later, a lion appeared and killed his donkey. Then a cat appeared and devoured the rooster. Rabbi Akiva seemed to be in a predicament. Nonetheless, what was his response to these disasters? “Whatever G‑d does, must be for the good.”