Jewish Healing Essay
You might ask, what is Jewish healing anyway. The answer is simple. Any process that draws us closer to God, to Hashem, and in the meanwhile soothes or takes away the blemishes that this world gives us, this is Jewish healing. Sometimes the process is slightly more complex.
It requires someone to sit, listen and follow in endless patience the process evolving in the healing process. Each time a block or resistance is reached, a simple clear truthful comment can move the blockage aside as the person delves more clearly into the truth of their being wanting to heal. When this process is complete, the person truly regrets some actions and makes amends, then the second part can begin. The patient learns to open to the infinite love surrounding them…healing begins in an instant. I watched it today in a dying woman. She was filled with regrets and fearful of many things including dying. The Rabbi talked her through a vidui…analyzing and letting go the various places in her life she regretted. She was making amends, she was facing her truth, she was letting go of the barriers, of the fears. Then she was ready, quiet. Vidui done, with a small suggestion she was able to open to the love and light around her. The neshama which was beside her came back within her and the light of her soul shone clearly on and around her face. She was at peace.
The Bal Shem Tov, a great healer, was once quoted as saying that his true goal was to come always closer to Hashem. In many of the Chassidic texts, this is the process. We find an inner place of holiness and from that aspect we can heal.
The Ari who was also a great healer, goes through many iterations of text about how to see letters and messages on the foreheads of his follower’s and people who came to him for help. After many long discussions, Chaim Vital, his scribe, says, “ The simplest way was to ask the soul itself”.
This is Jewish healing: Rather simple; Very Complex; Following a hierarchical model; and always going right back to the source.
Jewish healing is based on the concept of energy. It is a buzzword of the time. Yet the concept of energy has been around in the Jewish tradition for thousands of years.
We look at the description from our early sages who described a flow from above and a flow from below, a good flow, and a holy flow. In each case, they were talking about an infinite energy, which is constantly influencing our daily, weekly, Shabbat and holiday events.
We are often able to feel this energy a wedding a birth, a holiday service, and ourselves when we go to a bris (circumcision). When we attend a special teaching by a connected Jewish leader, reading a strong piece of text from a holy source, meeting a friend whom you love, holding a baby up close, and closing eyes, imaging you are standing at the holy wall in Jerusalem.
In each case, we connect to the energy of the Ain Sof, the infinite energy that is always available to us. Even more so, Chaim Volozin states in his work Nefesh Chaim, that we are in a constant state of influence and influence constantly this flow. There is an interface within each of us, between each of us, between us in this world and the other worlds, between us and God, which is constant, alive, necessary. Each one holds the other intact. If one were to stop, there is no telling what else would stop as well.
Jewish healing is involved all the time with removing those things, ideas, blemishes which separate us from the energy, which separate us from God. This can be done through prayer, Tzedaka, learning, meditation, hands-on, visiting the sick, saying psalms, shabbat, singing, and ahavas Yisroel (loving our fellow Jew).
Then, comes the question, what is Jewish energy. Every living being has energy. What is so special about Jewish energy? The answer is simple. Jewish energy is coming from G-d, from the Ain Sof, and is always present in our lives. It has a different flavor, a different taste and when it is used in a healing situation, has a different consistency and seems to last in different ways than other energies. It even looks different.
The Jewish energy system is the sefirot. However there is some difference. The sefirot represent not only energy systems on the body, they are energy systems within each cell of the body and they are places, worlds, in which the whole body can go. In addition, each sefirot is a manifestation of some aspect of Hashem and is connected in some way to our holy ancestors and our holy tradition through story, allegory and blessing.
There is more. The entire selection of Jewish texts of Tanach includes passages about healing. Most of the Torah contains allusions to healing. The Gemara begins with Brachos and within a few pages there is a discussion about healing. It is the essential quality of the Temple, the promise of our prayers. The quality of healing is ever present in the Chassidic commentaries on the Torah and holidays.
In fact, each holiday has healing elements to it. The whole yearly cycle is filled with healing references. Further, there are so many tales that are part of our oral tradition, which are about healing. We have a major concept in our tradition called Tikkun Olam. Not only are we interested in healing ourselves, it is our view, we must fix the worlds as well.
Within each world is a particular system, and each world stands upon the other. Therefore, what is in one world as middle, is the end of the next and what is the beginning of the first is the middle of the second. Each world seats itself within the other. This is true of the sefirot as they ascend one set upon the other. What happens then, is often that as we heal one system we affect change in the next.
Intention, a main stream idea within our tradition, is the cornerstone of the healing process. We must have clear intent while healing another or processing healing ourselves. This mindful focus is essential to the process and is important in most of the mitzvah’s we do.
Kosher is a common word in our tradition. In order to kasher an item, one must exact an increased degree of strength to each level of process. For example, if it was a cold surface, than a hot water will suffice. If it was used in warm food, then boiling it will suffice. If it is a pot that boils, then a red-hot rock is added to redeem it. This is also true for healing. Often as the hurt goes in, so it comes out. We need only to add one additional nudge of light, focused intent, gentle movement, idea, word of torah, for the healing to begin.
In one case, pottery can be kashered only if it is broken. So too with our soulful vessels. Often it takes a broken heart to mend our broken souls.
We expect change. We invite it. We focus our minds toward holiness keeping the other side always at a distance. We understand that dark is another form of light. And light allows us to see from one end of the world to the other.
We are given in our tradition abundant opportunity for growth based on the various times of the year. For example, coming free and unencumbered during the Passover season, renewing our vessels during Rosh Hashanah, learning to sit with the light during succos, finding the inside light at Chanukah time, being at one and in truth on Yom Kippur.
The themes are available all year long, but during the special time of year, they are more prevalent. In many chassidic texts, hints are clearly given about what is the focus of this time of year. The Slonimer Rebbe talks about succos being a time when our faith (emunah) is firmed and formed as we sit in the succah. He even goes further to say that as we believe in Hashem, so comes the aid we need for the obstacles that may come our way. The stronger we believe, the easier the task to overcome. We come to a place; he says, that increased faith allows to be connected always to the one above, leading us each moment, closer and stronger to the truth of who each of us is in this world.
Often, the healing process involves an exquisite and essential component of restoring faith in the person who is suffering, so that they can reconnect to Hashem, and by increasing that faith, change the symptoms and cause of illness. Sometimes, the very faith, in an instant, can effect substantial change in attitude, which is often critical. It relieves tension, depression, anxiety; sometimes-even anger that are added drains and often exacerbate symptoms making them more difficult to deal with.