More than 80 years' ago, Dr Edward Bach, discoverer of the Bach Flower Remedies, wrote the following:
"Disease is solely and purely corrective; it is neither vindictive nor cruel, but it is the means adopted by our own souls to point out to us our faults, to prevent our making greater errors, to hinder us from doing more harm, and to bring us back to the path of truth and light from which we should never have strayed."
Now, I'm not particularly into the whole Bach Flower Essences thing, not for ideological reasons, but simply because I already know a whole slew of holistic therapies, and that particular one hasn't called to me yet.
But when I read this quote from Dr Bach, it blew me away, because it's so in line with the authentic Jewish view of illness. I could quote you things from Rav Shalom Arush and the Rambam, to name but a few, that say pretty much exactly the same thing.
Take this, from Rav Arush's book 'The Garden of Healing':
"More than in any other area, we see [God's] Divine providence concerning our health. [God] uses physical and spiritual pain and illness to show us what we need to change and fix."
It's different words, but exactly the same message: Illness is not a punishment, it's a soul-correction. It's just coming to show you what you need to work on.
If more people started to view their illnesses and health problems in that way, it would revolutionise society. Instead of thinking that your blood pressure was a bad stroke of luck, or purely hereditary, you'd instead start looking for the underlying reasons why you're so on edge, internally.
But part of the problem is that although Dr Bach and Rav Arush are singing the same song, about God being behind all your illnesses, and about learning to listen to the dictates of your soul about what you need to change or fix in your life, they don't have anywhere near the marketing budget of BigPharma Inc.
It's like having a tiny, whispering voice of truth, and then having a million-piece marketing brass band playing right next to it. What hope do you have of 'hearing' what God's really trying to tell you, when it comes to working out the messages contained in your health issues and problems, when practically every media outlet in the world is screaming false premises at you?
If your GP's telling you your anxiety is solely because of a chemical imbalance, and the nutritionist is telling you that the only reason your skin is drying out is because you aren't eating enough almonds; and the school expert is convinced that your kid is suffering from Ritalin-deficiency, then how are you meant to dig deeper, underneath all that convincing patter, to find the real message God is hiding in your health issue?
It's not easy. But it can be done.
Thank God, I've had SO MANY emotional and physical health issues over the last few years, that I've had a head-start in trying to work out what it all meant, and how on earth I was meant to be responding to it all.
Drugs? Therapy? Healthy Diet? More exercise? Regular massage? Acupuncture? Herbs? - you name it, I've tried it out, with varying success.
All my experience of being 'ill' in so many different ways taught me a few key things about health:
1) Every mental, emotional and physical health issue you have is rooted in your negative character traits and beliefs. - Work on the underlying negative trait, and the problem usually improves drastically, or disappears.
2) Most people have no idea what their negative traits and beliefs actually are, because they're disconnected from, and don’t know how to acknowledge, their true feelings. (But you can learn how to change this, fairly easily.)
3) Kids are just our mirrors, especially when they're under the age of 13. Any health issue they have is coming to teach you something about yourself, and it's usually related to some huge negative emotion that you've been subconsciously repressing for years.
4) For true healing to happen, it has to work across body, mind / emotions, and soul. Miss one of these areas out, and the healing either won't last, or won't be as effective as it could be.
Of course, all this is easier said than done. But that's a big reason why I started JEMI in the first place: I want to share all my knowledge and experience with you, so you can hopefully learn from all the things I've gone through, without having to do it yourself.