Friday, February 17, 2012



Parshat Mishpatim
24 Shvat, 5772
February 17th, 2012

I’ve been sick for the last four days.

It’s nothing serious, thank God. Enough of a cold to make me wish I could detach my own head for a while, but nothing more than discomfort.

But it did get me thinking. 

Being sick reminded me of a uncomfortable truth, which is that to live is to be at war. On the microscopic level, our bodies are more or less constantly in battle. Scientists estimate that the parasites on planet Earth outnumber us free-standing organism by a factor of 3 to 1. We are always under attack.

So you have to wonder, then, what health really is. Is it the illusory state that existed only before the onslaught of life? Is health sterility - the eradication of all harmful influences?

My guess is that the answer is no. It’s negotiating those challenges that makes us healthy, not avoiding them. Health is not pristine.

This is the magnificent truth of our bodies: “Do not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by die; Not the disease that comes in darkness, nor the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand will fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand - but they shall not come close to you.” (Psalm 91)

Every moment of health is a wonderful overcoming, a show of grace against great odds. As the sick know, every second of health’s preeminence is worthy of gratitude.

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