In a yechidus with Dr. Mordechai Shani, director of the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, the Rebbe underscored the soul’s role in healing and involving the patient in the healing process. Today, that top hospital prides itself in world-class medicine “with a personal touch.”
Between the sichos at the 5737 (1976) Simchas Torah farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke with Dr. Mordechai Shani, the director of the Sheba Medical Center, and invited him to a yechidus after yom tov.
At the yechidus, the Rebbe discussed the place of the soul as the source of a human being’s strength. The stronger a person’s connection is to his soul, the better he can cope with life. “Indeed,” said the Rebbe, “the mitzva of bikur cholim (visiting the sick) is in order to help the sick person strengthen that connection to his soul.”
The Rebbe then laid out a revolutionary approach to healing. “Every person has the responsibility to take care of their own health,” the Rebbe said. “Yes, doctors have a role to play, but the primary responsibility lies with the individual. Give a person the best doctor in the world, but someone who does not take care of himself, does not eat well, sleep enough, or exercise enough will impair his health.”
When Dr. Shani repeats the Rebbe’s words, he hardly conceals his excitement. “Today there is a push in medicine toward ‘patient empowerment,’ where we try to convince people that they must take responsibility for their health and not just rely on doctors. The Rebbe was speaking to me about this thirty years ago! Back then, when no one was thinking about the issue.”
From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash