One of the things that has perplexed me the most on my holistic health journey of discovery is how on earth believing Jews have got so enmeshed in the view that the body is all there is, when it comes to staying healthy.
The Jewish tradition is so vibrantly spiritual, and the soul plays such a big part in yiddishkeit, that it's hard to believe that so many of even the most devoutly orthodox Jews today believe that their health is dependant on the Western model of doctors, drugs and surgery.
Let me explain what the main problem is. God generally only sends illness for two reasons:
1) As a soul correction, or hint that we need to change something or fix something in our lifestyle, behaviour or beliefs
2) To kill us, God forbid
True, you never know which one you're actually dealing with until you've come through the other side, but most of the time, the illness or physical issue that God is sending us is just a wake up call, to do some serious soul-searching.
Here's the thing: if it's not your time to go, God always sends the wake up call in the smallest, most minute dose possible, initially.
The Gemara itself recognises this principle, and tells us that even if you just experience a small headache, you should treat it very seriously, and do an immediate cheshbon hanefesh, or accounting of your deeds, to check why God is doing that to you.
But if you've got your eyes open, you can pick up the messages before they even manifest as a tangible physical issue, via your emotional state. Every bad mood, bout of sadness and depression, anger, fear and rage fit we experience is a message from God.
If we pick up the problem at the emotional or spiritual levels, in nearly all instances we'll avoid having to develop a physical sickness or serious issue.
But this wonderful system only works when people appreciate that they're souls, not just bodies, and that God is in charge of every detail of our life, including our health. When you relate to yourself as just a body, and disconnect your healthcare from God's Divine providence, you won't pick up the messages that are hidden away in even the most serious illnesses, for the simple reason that you're not actually looking for them.
In his book the Garden of Healing, Rav Arush spells it out time and again, that nearly every illness we have is just a message to come back to God, and to work on the stuff every single one of us has to sort out, like a lack of faith, or bad character traits.
But it's amazing to me that Rav Arush is almost a lone voice in the orthodox Jewish wilderness.
Hopefully, things are starting to change a bit now, as more and more people start to experience the limitations of Western medicine's wholly materialistic approach for themselves, and to yearn for a more holistic system of healthcare, that puts God in the picture and accepts that people are far more than just bodies: they're also souls.