Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The spiritual pathogenesis of Cancer

The Biala Rebbe, Shlit'a, is in Los Angeles now, and I wanted to share with you an insight that I heard from him when he was last here a year ago. One particular evening, as I was serving as translator for the Rebbe, a woman came in requesting a blessing to be healed from breast cancer. The Rebbe answered that tznius (modesty in dress and behavior) is a segula (spiritual remedy) against cancer, particularly breast cancer. She asked him to explain, which he did as follows: "The character trait of chesed (kindness) was what our forefather, Avraham was famous for. In Tehillim, King David lauds chesed as being the foundation upon which the world was built. But even a wonderful trait such as kindness needs boundaries, and without boundaries or when taken to an extreme, can become destructive. We find, for example, Avraham avinu's son Yishmael, took the trait of chesed to an extreme, and became promiscuous. When Ha-Shem created the world, therefore, he balanced chesed with gevurah (restriction) in order to give the light and abundance which Ha-Shem bestowed a vessel that could hold it. So too, our bodies need sunlight and fresh air to flourish, grow and sustain ourselves. This is part of the bounty that Ha-Shem graciously gives us. However, we need to modestly cover ourselves in our to make ourselves vessels to healthily hold that bounty. As I've stated on many occasions, what is true on a physical level always reflects on a spiritual level as well. What then is cancer? It is a proliferation of cells without limit, and without boundaries. It is chesed without gevurah. A healthy body is a beautiful gift from Ha-Shem given to us as a vessel to connect with Him by sanctifying our actions. And being the children of Avraham, we are encouraged to constantly perform acts of chesed. However, without boundaries and taken to an extreme that beautiful fruit becomes spoiled. Therefore one is encouraged to keep oneself healthy, fit and attractive. But, as the Rambam says, this care for our bodies needs to be in order to better serve Ha-Shem and not, hedonistically to flaunt our bodies, causing others to stumble and sin. This, the Tomer Devora states, causes harsh judgements to come upon us, Heaven forbid. How does one sweeten harsh judgements? By behaving modestly, and constantly thinking of pleasing The A-lmighty. This, explained the Biala Rebbe, is the reason why modesty in behavior and dress serve as a segula to arrest the runaway train which is cancer.

May we never know of it.

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