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Rabbi's Message - August 2022 - How Do We Prevent Suffering

We learn from our oral tradition, our

Talmud, that stories of suffering lead

us to compassion and healing. Stories

of suffering can lead us to take action

since we need each other to help us

out of our suffering. Here is a story of suffering from our

oral tradition in the Talmud (Berachot 5b):

Rabbi Chiya Bar Abba got sick. Rabbi Yochanan came

to visit him. Rabbi Yochanan said, “Are your sufferings

precious to you?” Rabbi Chiya Bar Abba replied, “I don’t

want them, nor do I want their reward.” That is, I do not

want any character building that suffering may bring.”

Rabbi Yochanan said, “Give me your hand.” He gave him

his hand and Rabbi Yochanan raised him up (out of his

sickness). In other words, Rabbi Yochanan faith-healed

Rabbi Chiya. Then, Rabbi Yochanan got sick. Now the

one who healed is the one who is sick. Rabbi Chanina

came to him.

Rabbi Chanina said to him, “Are your sufferings precious

to you?” A new rabbi comes to him and has the very

same conversation! Rabbi Yochanan replied, “I don’t want

them nor do I want their reward.” Said Rabbi Chanina,

“Give me your hand.” He gave him his hand and Rabbi

Chanina raised him up (out of his sickness). Rabbi

Yochanan, the faith healer, needed Rabbi Chanina to heal


So the Talmud asks - Why so? Rabbi Yochanan should

have raised himself up. That is, if Rabbi Yochanan could

heal Rabbi Chiya, then why couldn’t he just heal himself.

Why do therapists need therapists? Why do doctors need

doctors? Why can we give wise advice to our friend in

need, but when we are suffering we cannot say those

same things to ourselves? And the Talmud answers this

question poetically. They say, “A prisoner cannot get

him/herself out of his/her own shackles.”

Sometimes it feels like there is no escape from our suffering.

We become prisoners to our own illness. So we

need someone to acknowledge our pain and to extend a

helping hand which can lead us down a path to healing,

and allow us to stand on our own two feet again. WE

NEED EACH OTHER! No matter what our suffering is, it

is wrong to suffer alone and as a caring, loving, Jewish

community and family, we must be there for each other.

If anyone knows of someone who is ill or has

passed or is in some other need please call or

email me directly so that I can make contact with

them. My number is 305-338-3029 and my email is

Rabbi Schonblum

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