If you enjoy television medical dramas, then you probably have certain pre-conceived notions about doctors. After all, we see the doctors on television far more often than we see our own medical practitioners. It is interesting how many television doctors often appear to have what people call a “God complex.”

According to many commentators, the potential for doctors to become arrogant, due to their ability to save lives, and the way others view their healing skills, led to the rabbinic statement that, “The best of doctors are destined for Gehinnom [hell]” (Kiddushin 82a). According to Rashi, commenting on the Talmud: “Being unafraid of sickness, they are haughty before the Almighty. Again, they sometimes cause death by their treatment; while on the other hand, by refusing treatment to the poor they may indirectly cause their death…”

A person might wonder whether absolute faith in God means, as some other religious groups believe, that he/she should not visit the doctor when ill. This is not at all the case in Judaism. The Jewish view on healing is that all healing is in God’s power, but that the Almighty works His will through human hands. According to the opinion of the sage Abaye, the verse “He shall cause him to be thoroughly healed” (Exodus 21;19), teaches that “permission has been given to the physician to heal” (Brachot 60a). This knowledge, however, should be utmost in the minds of both patient and doctor. Thus, the Talmud noted, that “On going in to be cupped [undergoing a medical procedure], a person should say: ‘May it be Your will, O Lord, my God, that this operation may be a cure for me, and that may You heal me. For You are a faithful, healing God, and Your healing is sure’” (Brachot 60a).

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