Everyone, at some point in their lives, gets sick, even if it is with just a mild “bug.” Interestingly, the Talmud notes: “Until the time of Jacob, nobody became sick before he died. Then Jacob prayed [for a warning before death so that last wishes may be conveyed], and sickness came into being...Until the time of Elisha [the prophet] no sick person ever recovered, but Elisha prayed and he did recover...” (Baba Metzia 87a). Alas, this is really no consolation to humankind today which is afflicted by a wide range of illnesses and diseases.
The Talmud is filled with what we today might consider odd folk remedies. For instance, In Gittin (68b) it is written: “For migraine, one should take a woodcock and cut its throat with a white zuz [silver coin] over the side of the head on which he has pain, taking care that the blood does not blind him, and he should hang the bird on his doorpost so that he should rub against it when he goes in and out.”
While many people today are proponents of going back to more nature-based medicines, this Talmudic remedy would certainly be beyond consideration for most.
However, not all of the Talmudic medical advice is out of step with modern medical thought. For instance, in Brachot (40a), “The Rabbis taught: Whoever drinks a large amount of water after his meal will not suffer any intestinal illness.” It is a well-known fact that drinking a lot of water is essential for a healthy diet. Another example: “Elijah once said to Rabbi Nathan: Eat a third and drink a third and leave a third for when you get angry, and then you will have had your fill” (Gittin 70a).
Copyright © 2012 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.