A Partnership Of Faith And Trust

January 2014 and the Affordable Care Act is in place.  This is not a thought piece on the act or on the Jewish position on equal access to health care (it is in favor). Rather, I wanted to just mention, for your contemplation, some ideas that float through our tradition on the linkage of medical care and faith. There is a renewed interest in the role that faith and spirituality can play in the healing process. Increasing numbers of medical schools now teach a class in this and the rise of a more professional chaplaincy has added to the dialogue.

gs34000-110413-healtbenefit300x205A Google search of “religion and medicine” will yield a staggering number of items. With the formal beginning of the ACA, it felt like a good time to be reminded of our system’s belief that the relationship between the doctor and the patient can be considered as a sacred one. Jewish tradition is filled with the fact that many a scholar in the Rabbinic period were practicing physicians (see Maimonides) and there was always an understanding that there was a keen link between health and faith. One of the most powerful statements of the sacredness of the relationship between doctor and patient is to be found in a 1964 speech to the American Medical Association by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The speech, entitled “The Patient As A Person” had this powerful statement: “The doctor is God’s partner in the struggle between life and death. Religion is medicine in the form of prayer; medicine is prayer in the form of a deed…It is a grievous mistake to keep a wall of separation between medicine and religion. There is a division of labor but a unity of spirit…To minister to the sick is to minister to God. Religion is not the assistant to medicine, but the secret of one’s passion for medicine.”

Politics aside, as the ACA moves forward, one can only hope that Heschel’s words find a home in every medical office and hospital and clinic. We will add more on this relationship between medicine and Jewish tradition in future columns. In the meantime, our best to you for a sweet and meaningful and healthy 2014.

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min

JSA: JAN. 14

A Partnership Of Faith And Trust

January 2014 and the Affordable Care Act is in place.  This is not a thought piece on the act or on the Jewish position on equal access to health care (it is in favor). Rather, I wanted to just mention, for your contemplation, some ideas that float through our tradition on the linkage of medical care and faith. There is a renewed interest in the role that faith and spirituality can play in the healing process. Increasing numbers of medical schools now teach a class in this and the rise of a more professional chaplaincy has added to the dialogue.

A Google search of “religion and medicine” will yield a staggering number of items. With the formal beginning of the ACA, it felt like a good time to be reminded of our system’s belief that the relationship between the doctor and the patient can be considered as a sacred one. Jewish tradition is filled with the fact that many a scholar in the Rabbinic period were practicing physicians (see Maimonides) and there was always an understanding that there was a keen link between health and faith. One of the most powerful statements of the sacredness of the relationship between doctor and patient is to be found in a 1964 speech to the American Medical Association by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The speech, entitled “The Patient As A Person” had this powerful statement: “The doctor is God’s partner in the struggle between life and death. Religion is medicine in the form of prayer; medicine is prayer in the form of a deed…It is a grievous mistake to keep a wall of separation between medicine and religion. There is a division of labor but a unity of spirit…To minister to the sick is to minister to God. Religion is not the assistant to medicine, but the secret of one’s passion for medicine.”

Politics aside, as the ACA moves forward, one can only hope that Heschel’s words find a home in every medical office and hospital and clinic. We will add more on this relationship between medicine and Jewish tradition in future columns. In the meantime, our best to you for a sweet and meaningful and healthy 2014.

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min

About Rabbi Richard Address 363 Articles
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.

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