Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How to successfully treat Iron Deficient Anemia

I have seen numerous patients who have presented with iron deficient anemia.  Almost without exception, according to Chinese pulse diagnosis, they are Blood deficient,  usually their Liver pulse is empty and their facial complexion is pale. 

I have found that by gently nourishing the Blood using Chinese Medicinal formulas (while making sure not to damage Spleen which can often be harmed by Blood tonifying formulas), by determining the root of the Blood deficiency, by addressing the problem with lifestyle changes, and by nutritionally addressing this deficiency head on, to the best of my knowledge, I have yet to be unsuccessful in resolving this problem for my patients.  

But let me clarify what I mean by "nutritionally addressing this deficiency:"  Consider for a moment hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the iron-containing protein that carries oxygen from the lungs and distributes it  to the tissues (oxygenated iron gives blood its red color), and then carries deoxygenated carbon dioxide from the tissues  back to the lungs (which is the blue color of veins). 

So how, pray tell, does one who is Blood deficient, get healthy oxygenated Hemoglobin?  Two ways: 1. by eating fresh, good quality, organic lightly cooked animal protein, and a lot of it! (I actually recommend the 40% of each meal should be protein), 

But there's another way for those of you who might cringe at the thought of eating animal protein (though its not quite as easy and more complicated):  It seems that the molecular structure of chlorophyll is almost identical to hemoglobin.  So, again, with proper care and awareness that the digestion will be damaged by enegetically cold foods, as most good sources of  chlorophyll are very cold (eg. Wheat grass juice, parsley, cilantro and celery leaves), and others are high in oxalic acid, which binds to and actually pull out needed minerals, including iron (such as spinach, rhubarb and beet tops), even vegans should be able to reverse iron deficient anemia without having to take iron pills which are poorly digested and utilized by the body.  (I will add, from personal experience, that for nearly 40 years I ate very little animal protein, mostly fish.  And you know what?  I have the self-awareness and honesty to recognize that I paid the price:  I really was feeling weaker and weaker and found my endurance also compromised, until I increased the amount of animal protein that I eat.  Also, with each meal,  BTW, I make sure to supplement Betaine Hydrochloride, to help my stomach do its job in breaking down the animal protein.  

 As I approach my 63rd birthday in exactly a week, I pray,that in  the coming year, I have the awareness, humility, and knowledge to make correct decisions on how I eat, how I live my life, and how I help my patients empower themselves.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Our website has moved!

Traditional Jewish Medicine's website has MOVED. Please note the new address (it's tricky - same name, different ending) - www.traditionaljewishmedicine.org

In the coming months we will be updating and upgrading the website, hopefully bringing some new material and making the present material more accessible.

Now is the time - if you have any input, any suggestions on how we can better meet your needs, please email yocheved@traditionaljewishmedicine.org.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The philosophy of Aristotle as viewed by The Ramban...and by Aristotle


The first principle of Traditional Jewish medicine, is to recognize G-d in all aspects of our lives, and to know that the more we involve Him, the more He reveals Himself to us, showing us the sweetness of our existence. One might wonder if it is possible to harmonize this fundamental of Judaism with the empiricism of Aristotle, who "apparently" believed that all knowledge and concepts can be acquired only through one's perceptions.

Indeed, though the Rambam, (Maimonides) in Morah Nevuchim (The Guide to the Perplexed),  does praise Aristotle as being the greatest of the philosophers, and of  having reached the highest level of understanding that a human being can reach short of prophecy, nonetheless, The Ramban ( Nachmanides) who lived a little less than a century later, ridicules Aristotle and views his conceptions of science as being myopic.  

In his Treatise, "Toras Hashem Temima"  (The Torah of Hashem is perfect), the Ramban states: "...Hence you see the stubbornness of the leader of the philosophers (Aristotle), may his name be erased, for he denies a number of things that many have seen, whose truth we ourselves have witnessed, and which have become famous in the world.  In ancient times, for example in the days of our teacher, Moshe , of blessed memory, they were known to all, because in that generation, all of the sciences were spiritual, such as the subjects of demonology, sorcery and the different varieties of incense offered for Heavenly works.  For since they were chronologically closer to the creation of the world and the flood, there was no one who denied the concept of creationism,   or who rebelled against Hashem. Rather, they would attempt to enhance their spirituality by worshiping the sun, moon and constellations, and they would draw certain shaped forms in order to receive higher powers.  Even among the philosophers, as is written in the  book of  Talismans (אלטלסמש), it was possible for a person to bring down a spirit and the power of speech to images. When the Greeks arose, (and they were a new nation who had not received wisdom as an inheritance), as explained by the author of the Kuzari (Rabbi Yehuda Halevi), that well known man (Aristotle) arose and denied everything other than physical senses. He sought out science based only upon the senses while denying the spiritual ones.  He claimed that the subject of demons and the art of sorcery  were worthless and all activity in this world is based upon  natural law...."

Yet, ironically,  this very tenet of Aristotle, that Man can only know something as true if he is able to perceive it through his senses, at the end of his life, he recognized was flawed and recanted.   

Four years ago, in this blog, I shared with you a fascinating letter, that I saw in the Me'am Lo'ez, that was attributed to great Greek philosopher Aristotle that he had sent to his student, Alexander the Great of Macedonia.

Recently, though, it was brought to my attention by a colleague, that this letter had originally been printed in  Shalshelet Hakabbalah  by Gedalia ben Yechia 150 years before the publication of Me'am Lo'ez, and that the letter taken from Shalshelet Hakabbalah is more accurate,  in that the original letter most probably was written in Greek and was translated by the Shalshelet Hakabbalah into hebrew. The Me'am Lo'ez, then  translated the letter into Ladino, and later, Me'am Lo'ez was translated into hebrew and later into English by the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan.   Additionally Shalshelet Hakabalah also introduces the letter with historical background information which further validates its authenticity.

Here, then,  is a translation of the introduction to the letter from the  Shalshelet Hakabbalah followed by the actual letter:


"Aristotle, the philosopher and head of the sages was the teacher of Alexander and the student of Socrates and Plato. He was born in Macedonia and lived 2 years after the death of Alexander his student, a total of 62 years.  I saw written in the letters of Aristotle – that he wrote that he spoken with Shimon HaTzadik on Godly wisdom and was greatly astonished by his level of wisdom 'in how the "Shimoni" (as he refers to him)  answered me concerning questions that I asked him.' "

"I also saw that Rabbi Yosef Ibn Shem Tov in the introduction to his commentary on The Book of Middot says how he saw in Egypt a book in which was written how Aristotle at the end of his life admitted that everything that was written in the Sefer Torah of Moshe was true, and that he then converted to Judaism." 

I saw in the beginning of  The Kuzari  handwritten notes, and note 42 asks from whence did the philosophers get their wisdom. They answered that it came from the Jews and all the wisdoms copied  their sources and principles from the Jews of Alexandria. Afterwards it was passed down to Persia and Medes, then to Greece and finally to Rome. But with the passage of time and much wandering, they did not remember that their wisdoms were copied from the Jews  and not from the Greeks or Romans."

"The author of the Shvilei Emuna wrote– that he saw it written that when Alexander went to Jerusalem he appointed Aristotle, his teacher, to be in charge of the books of (King) Solomon,  and that  he (Aristotle) copied from there his philosophy, and  called it in his (own) name."

"The Rav (the Rambam) in HaMoreh Nevuchim  (The Guide For the Perplexed) section 1 chapter 71 says that all the wisdoms  originally came from the  people of Israel, but due to the domination of the nations upon us it came into their hands. So therefore, when we learn something from them which appears to be original, the opposite is  true."

"Ibn Rashed who is called Aviro'oh says in the end of his book, Hapelet Hatefila, that the wisdoms came from Israel.  'I also saw these words in an ancient text ,  and I am copying them here word for word and here they are: 'I  testify, with total clarity,  that I heard from the mouth of the sage, Don Avraham Ibn Zarzer who lived in Lisbon,  that the Ishmaeli sage, Ibn Alachtov, (who people used to say of him that there was no one of his caliber in his generation in terms of wisdom and piety) had heard that there was, in the city of Alekhara a book from Aristotle composed at the end of his life, and in that book, he recanted all that he had written previously. The sage Don Abraham ibn Zarzer sent for this book and saw in it matters relating to  Divine providence,  matters relating to the immortality of the soul, and matters relating to the creation of the world.  Aristotle said concerning these as well as matters  relating to nature,  that, 'The “Shimoni” had changed my mind by way of the logic in which he explained certain  miracles and other various arguments. At the end of this book is found the following letter, written by Aristotle sent to his student, King Alexander. 

Here is the text of the letter:

'Blessed is Hashem who  opens the eyes of the blind, and who teaches sinners the path to take. He is extolled with the praise that is worthy of Him, and has graced me with His mercy and  his abundant kindness: For He has extricated  me from  the complete foolishness in which I was mired in all the days of my life pursuing the wisdom of philosophy, and judging everything  according to logic and reason.  

Based upon this,  I authored as many  books as the sand on the seashore.  At the end of my days, however, I debated with a master from the sages of Israel, who demonstrated his strong arm in the Torah, and their inheritance from Sinai. He thus,  drew my heart near with  words of the Torah, showing  me  signs and wonders with true holy names that are  revealed to the senses. 

Yet, because I did not know that most of these things are above logic,  when I did realize this, I gave of my full heart, reflecting with great intensity on the religion of the Jews.   I discovered that  its foundation is flawless,  unlike the dark wisdom of philosophy.  Therefore, my precious student Alexander, oh great king, do not let my books cause you to err, neither  you nor for your friends, the philosophers, for if I could gather together all of my books that have spread to the farthest  reaches of  the land, I would burn them so that not even one would remain to be seen by the princes and their deputies, causing them to err.  For I know that I will receive great punishment from  G-d, having sinned and having  caused the multitudes to sin.  

Therefore, my son, Alexander I inform you and all the people of the world that most of the things that are derived through logic are lies,"For the Highest over the high waits (Kohelet 5:7)." Therefore since it has happened that my books have been  disseminated throughout the western world, I hereby declare, with absolute certainty, that it is not worthwhile to look in them or review them, for their logic is iniquitous and their philosophy is false.  I now, therefore, am discharged from responsibility before Hashem – for I transgressed unknowingly.  Woe unto those that look in them (my books) for they go in a path of confusion leading to destruction. Know also that just as that great sage taught me about our wisdom, this was also the sentiment expressed by Shlomo the son of David by way of metaphor when he says, "To guard you from a strange woman...” (Mishlei 7:5), “Don't let your heart be drawn away to her path” (Mishlei 7:25) and, “All those that come to her will not return...” (Mishlei 2:19).

Woe to the eyes that have  seen,  woe  to the ears that have heard. Woe is to me, alas, my body has  withered and my days have been spent on  matters that damage and provide no benefit. They bring one down rather than elevate him.  The fact that you praise  me, so greatly admire me,  declaring that my fame has spread throughout the nations and will be known for eternity for the many books that I authored--surely death is better than this, that my books have spread throughout the world!  Surely those who occupy themselves in Torah, they will inherit eternal life in the world to come. Yet those who occupy themselves with my books will inherit hell.  So, too, I am prepared to be punished for them all.  

The reason that I hadn't written this letter to you previously, was that I was concerned that you would be angry with me and do me evil. But I have now decided to inform you of my opinion nonetheless.  For I know that before this letter arrives, I will already be lying in a  wooden casket, as I have reached the end of my life.

Peace from the teacher Aristotle who is separating from the world
to Alexander the great king."

From this we can summarize the following:

1.     Aristotle converted to Judaism at the end of his life.
2.  He was appointed to oversee King Shlomo's  works when Alexander the Great conquered Israel.
3.  Some of the wisdom that  he learned from King Shlomo is the basis of some his philosophy.
4.    He engaged in polemic and studied with the great Jewish sage, and Cohen Gadol (high priest),   Shimon HaTzadik,  who he refers to as  the “Shimonite.”
5.    Alexander died in his thirties. Aristotle died at  62 years of age.  

The gemara  (Yoma 69a)  adds yet more information about Alexander and Shimon Hatzadik: Alexander the Macedonian entered into Jerusalem, and that Shimon HaTzadik the  Cohen Gadol went out to greet the emperor in his eight priestly garments.  Upon seeing Shimon Hatzadik,  Alexander descended from his chariot and bowed to him. He told his servants and those that were present that the vision of this man, the Cohen Gadol  in his eight priestly garments appeared to him before each of his victories. The gemara continues that  Alexander asked that an statue in the image of himself be placed in the Holy Temple, to which Shimon replied that this was against the Torah.  However,  to honor the king, all male Cohen children that would be born that year would be named Alexander and that all legal documents  would be dated from the start of that year (ie, 1st year of the King Alexander). He was very happy and gave many gifts to the Temple. Thus we see clearly that Alexander, Aristotle's student, was a contemporary  of Shimon Hatzadik.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Ramban on the spiritual basis of Illness and the ideal role of doctors

 One of the truly great Jewish spiritual leaders, Rabbi Moses Ben Nachman, also known as the Ramban, or Nachmanides, lived most of his life in Spain about century after Maimonides.  Like Maimonides, beside being a phenomenal Torah scholar, eminent philosopher and universally recognized leader, he was also a prominent physician, insisting on earning his livelihood as such, rather than taking a salary for a rabbinical position. In his commentary on the Torah, The Ramban, (Leviticus 26:11) speaks in great detail of the spiritual basis of illness, and what the role of doctors should ideally be:


"The following may be taken as a general principle: When (humanity) is in a refined state where it acts as it should , the laws of nature do not at all control what happens. Nothing is left to happenstance, neither as it affects each person, nor as it affects the land. This applies collectively as well as individually. For God `will bless their bread and their water, and remove illness from their midst' (Exodus 23:25), such that  they will never become sick and therefore never require a doctor, or any kind of medical intervention,  even as precautionary measures, `For I, G-d, am your Doctor' (Exodus 15:26). When prophecy was still part of daily life, righteous people acted accordingly. Even if they happened to sin and became sick, they consulted not doctors but prophets, as did King Chizkiyahu when he was sick (Kings II, 20, 2-3). It is said of King Asa that `even in his sickness he did not seek out G-d, but he turned to the doctors' (Chronicles II, 16:13). If it was common for them to go to doctors, why should the verse mention doctors at all? Asa's only guilt lay in the fact that he did not seek out  G-d...."

"What is the role of doctors, therefore, for those who carry out the will of G-d, after He promised that `He will bless their bread and their water, and remove illness from their midst'? The function of the medical profession in times when people live according to  G-d will,  will  be to give nutritional advice - what to eat and drink and what to avoid.   The Gemara reports (Brachot 64a) that for the entire twenty-two years during which the great Rabbah's was Rosh Yeshiva (dean of the Talmudic seminary), Rav Yosef never felt the need to  call any medical practitioner  to his house. They went by the principle that `a door that does not open to charity will open to the doctor' (Bemidbar Rabbah 9:3). This is consistent with what the Gemara also brings down,(Brochot 60a) 'People ought not to depend on medical intervention at all, but it is their habit of going to doctors.`  This means that  had they not become habituated to visit doctors and resort to medicine, sickness would struck only as  a consequence of sin, and healing would occur  only through the will of God. However, since they resorted to medicines, God abandoned them to the vicissitudes of nature."

"As to the rabbinic comment on the verse, `...And he should surely heal him' (Exodus 21:19) - `that from here we learn that the physician has been given sanction to heal' (Berakhot 60a) - this does not mean that license has been given to the sick to resort to medicine! What they meant is that if a doctor is approached by a patient who tends to resort to medicine and is not part of the community of God whose share is life, the doctor should not refrain from treating him, neither from fear that the patient might die under his hand (assuming, of course, that  the doctor is expert in his craft),  nor on the grounds that G-d alone is the healer of all flesh, since this patient has already established the habit of resorting to medicine." 

And even though the Torah states that if two people quarrel and in the course of their conflict one injures the other,  that the attacker must pay the medical expenses of the injured party (Exodus 21:18), this is because Torah law does not rely on miracles, for G-d knew that `the needy will not cease from the midst of the earth' (Deuteronomy 15:11). But when a person's ways find favor in God's eyes, he has no business with doctors."


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why practice Chinese medicine if Hashem controls it all?

The question was asked of me, "why practice Chinese Medicine if  G-d controls it all?"  But first, to answer this question, we must clarify exactly what is Chinese medicine, what is Jewish medicine, and why we are here.

Chinese medicine is based upon the integrative observations by brilliant ancient physicians and philosophers of relative cosmological phenomena in a very global  sense, and considering and applying parallels to the human being.  This way of looking at things is a very useful tool in helping to bring balance to the "dis-eased" patient, but specifically, not only physically. For Chinese Medicine also recognizes the profound relationship between physical symptoms of imbalance, and mental, spiritual and emotional components and manifestations of illnesses, a principle which is completely consistent with the Torah and  traditional Judaism, and which particularly manifests in the pulses.  BTW, pulses also play a significant role in the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition in the determining of spiritual imbalances which manifest physically.  

From the Jewish physician's perspective, Chinese medicine and other brilliant modalities are valuable tools to be used and applied, much as a skilled craftsman would use a hammer, screwdriver or computer, to diagnose disharmonies and bring healing and balance. However, Traditional Jewish medicine (TJM) goes one step further: By applying specific principles from the Torah and Jewish traditional sources, traditional Jewish medicine guides the patient and physician to understand why specifically the patient has gotten out of balance, what the messages are  in how this imbalances manifest  themselves, and what can be done to not just treat symptoms, but affect a paradigm shift to bring balance and healing.   Each patient's individual constitution, nature and life experiences ( including traumas ) represent significant pieces to be considered and honored in the individuals path that brought him to his present situation. We consider the present inner-conflicts that have engendered the imbalances (aka differential diagnosis), trace backwards in time the path of illness to seminal events before which there wasn't illness or a particular layer, thereof (pathogenesis), while honoring the patient throughout this whole process, never imposing our will upon him, meeting him where he is, (even if he is philosophically opposed to my beliefs) and helping to put the pieces together allowing the patient to heal himself, as a detective, a translator, and a tour guide, uncovering clues, making sense of chaotic signs and symptoms, and safely facilitating the journey back to health.

With that introduction, let me answer your question:  Though, indeed G-d controls it all, He also specifically has given man, the crown of creation, free choice.  The reason for this, our sages tell us, is for us to take those skills, emotions, and attributes that we were given, and use them to fulfill our specific individual purpose as to why we were created. Each person is a distinctly unique piece in the magnificent cosmic puzzle, and each piece is needed for the puzzle to be complete.  Each of us is special and unique, and we need to find out where we belong and how we fit, but even more importantly, what we are supposed to do.  It doesn't matter the degree to which we are brilliant, strong, artistic or charismatic. We are not expected to be like anyone else, and so the concept of jealousy in Judaism is anathema.  Rather each of us needs to figure out what we are supposed to do, based upon what we have been given, and do everything within our power to fulfill that goal.   G-d helps us, much like a GPS, in guiding us towards our life goal and purpose, but gives us absolute free choice, without which we couldn't make creative decisions.  Alas, many spend their lives, hedonistically pursuing pleasure, or mechanically living chaotic lives, yet we are all spoken to and guided towards our goal and life purpose.  Those who don't succeed, this time around come back again, and we keep coming back until we have fulfilled all that we need to do. (In this sense, Jewish reincarnation is very different from Eastern reincarnation, in that in Judaism, the consequences of our choices determine if we need to come back again.)  Maimonides tells us, therefore, that each person needs to direct his inner-thoughts to "Know" G-d.  (It's interesting that Biblically, we are told that Adam "Knew" Eve.  For as our sages tell us, the definition of "knowledge" is unselfishly melding, connecting and intimately becoming one with the other.)  "But," he continues, it is impossible to "Know" G-d if one is hungry, sick or in pain!"  Furthermore, our sages tell us that one who is in prison, does not have the keys to help himself escape.  So to determine one's specific life purpose, or soul correction, one needs to be connected.  And to be connected one needs to be healthy, in balance, and not distracted by noise, hunger or pain.  Therefore to slough off the filth, pain and old baggage that got us into the mess we're in, and get to that place of clarity, health and happiness, we need to find and utilize the most prudent and effective tools. The Chinese medical modalities can be enormously effective tools toward that end, when used wisely.     

Monday, October 27, 2014

Illness and Nature


Upon hearing of the premises in The Garden of Healing,  a colleague of mine wrote that he was  astonished that I could possibly view illness as anything other than a natural phenomenon.  To quote him:

"In all respect, neither the Black Plague nor Ebola are "divine messages" to the afflicted, although certainly they call on us to bring forth the best traits in ourselves in our care for the other, rather than fear and much worse.  Disease IS a natural process, living leads to dying, and from saber-tooth tigers to filoviruses, nature is "red in tooth and claw." 

I responded that  as convinced as he was of his opinion, I was at least as  convinced to the contrary, for the following reason:

As an observant orthodox Jew, among the basic tenets of my observance are  2 statements made by Rabbi Doctor Moses Maimonides:

1.   "I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name, creates and guides all creatures, and that He alone, made, makes and will make everything." 
2.   "I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name, is not physical,  is not affected by physical phenomena, and that there is no comparison whatsoever to Him.  

As such, we observant Jews believe that nothing occurs arbitrarily and nothing, specifically, not disease, illness or suffering is by chance. Far from being some old man who created the world and left it to its own designs, or some Olympian god who plays with people like some large soap opera,  we believe that nothing, not even the seemingly most insignificant event such as  a falling leaf occurs without being commanded to do so and regulated by G-d.   The fact that we may not be able to understand as physically and temporally limited beings as to why a certain illness or epidemic occurs, and  who gets sick and who doesn't,  is merely a reflection of our fallibility and lack of spiritual sensitivity.  For our goal as human beings should be to sensitize ourselves to all the events in our lives and reflect upon them, in order to begin to understand the messages that we are clearly given.  This takes work and focus.  We live in world of sound byes, quick one-liners and very limited attention spans.  ADD is rampant.  It is my firm conviction that we can fine tune our spiritual receivers (with proper guidance, of course) and  just like with radios when one is not precisely tuned in to a specific channel  hears static and it's hard to hear the message, so too, we have the ability to tune in in a more refined manner, to clearly hear the very personal messages from our Creator, who created us to connect with, to commune with  and to develop a loving relationship with Him.  

Judaism, and more specifically, Chasidus and Kabbala further teach that we have a choice: We can, indeed become beholden to nature and its rules; to  defer and become swept away, as the existentialists teach, to its tide.  Or we can view this short sojourn that we have been given as an opportunity to develop relationships:with ourselves, with those that we interact with, with our environment and  with our Creator.  Most importantly, it is through clearly hearing these messages, and developing these relationships, that we are able to determine our jobs and purposes that we were brought into this world to accomplish.  

We practitioners, who are the inheritors of the brilliant legacy of Chinese medicine have been taught of the importance of looking at the larger picture and seeing relationships.  And as the great Chassidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches, there is no such thing as neutrality or detente.  The concept is inherently flawed.  Rather, in all  areas of interaction, there can only be  balance and harmony or conflict.  This holds true internationally,  inter-personally, and internally.  He tells us that when there is internal conflict there is illness.  This is  exactly consistant with Chinese medical theory.  We have been given  wonderful diagnostic tools.  So we are able  to determine that if there is vacuity,  we nourish and boost, if there is repletion or superfluity we reduce or moderate.  If an outside force (which the Chinese call "Wind") invades, we expel it, and so on. If one aspect of the body is replete and another is deficient, we take therapeutic steps to bring balance to the whole person.  So too, as with Judaism, we look at the emotional, mental and spiritual manifestations of illness and imbalance related to specific organs and organ systems.  The founder of Chasidus, The Baal Shem Tov, would say that "if someone has a small hole in their body, they have a large hole in their soul."

Indeed, as my colleague suggested,  one can take the path that Western Biomedicine has taken, looking with greater micro-detail at disease, play with molecules and tweak genes in order to attempt to confound and trick disease.  But I'm telling you, it won't work.  I remember, growing up in the 50s and 60s, hearing that soon the war on cancer would be won. What a lie that was and how deceitful Western medicine has been to con innocent people into shelling out billions of dollars with nothing to show.  Nobody gets well from disease without addressing the  fundamental aspects of our lives:  How we eat, how we hydrate ourselves, how we move our bodies, how we breathe, how we sleep, and how we nurture ourselves spiritually and make ourselves happy.  150 years or so ago, a great debate took place in France between Louis Pasteur and Antoine Bechamp as to the cause of illness.  Pasteur claimed that microbes were the cause of disease, whereas  Bechamp contended that microbes only become virulent in an environment which is toxic and out of balance.  Visualize, if you would, what happens to a river which stops flowing:  Fish die, algae proliferate and the river becomes toxic and foul smelling. So, too, with the human body.   At the end of his life, Pasteur admitted that he was wrong.  

To try and tell you why epidemics or global tragedies occur would be to arrogantly say that I can see the larger picture. That would be a lie.    But for myself, for my patients and for those whose live's impact me, yes, I believe I can begin to tune into the "Divine messages," we are given.  The point is that we are given the choice:  if we choose to address it as such, disease can be a process of nature, and to fight nature we are not only not  going to succeed, but we'll die miserable, empty and alone.  But I choose to take a very different approach, and am constantly learning,  growing and connecting from the remarkable messages I am sent on a daily basis.  (and no, I'm not nuts, and I'm not hearing voices!) 

Hope that you have the opportunity to read and learn from the book.

2 years in preparation and now available: The Garden of Healing


I am delighted to announce the publication of The Garden of Healing,  by Rabbi Shalom Arush. I have had the great privilege of translating and editing this 450 page masterpiece on Traditional Jewish medicine, originally written in Hebrew, and have been honored by Rabbi Arush to add a glossary and compose an additional final chapter, based upon my experience and philosophies in the  practice of Traditional Jewish medicine.  My wife Yocheved, who served as my proofreader, on multiple occasions exclaimed: "This book is amazing and it sounds like  you could have written it!" (which is easy to understand as  Rabbi Arush's presentation is  consistent with the approach that  I take to medicine). 

The book is quite comprehensive,  and Rabbi Arush beside being an extremely sensitive, G-d fearing  and highly developed spiritual individual, is also a scholar in Jewish Traditional Literature of enormous proportions. He is a gifted orator, and his ability to to disseminate his message of emuna  is legendary as can be seen by the fact that his best selling book, The Garden of Emuna, has sold over 2,000,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into  ten languages.  

This is not a book for those looking for quick fixes or  who attribute illness and pain  to natural phenomena. The original Hebrew text was entitled, "Hashem Rofecha" (from the verse in Exodus),which means "Hashem is your Doctor."  As I often say, it is a book whose goal is to get the reader to think differently, and to learn to listen to illness, pain and adversity as Divine messages, even "love letters" from G-d, given to us to wake ourselves up and make changes in the way we relate to ourselves, those whose lives we impact, our environment, and, of course, Hashem.  It is a unique opportunity to  immerse oneself in the pure unpolluted waters which nourish and cultivate the garden of healing.     

Tea and Fluoride--thinking differently

Though I am personally not a tea drinker (Both green and black tea are energetically cooling and I tend to be cold), a recent article stated, ""It turns out that both green and black tea products contain high amounts of naturally occurring fluoride. Tea leaves accumulate more fluoride (from air and soil pollution) than most other edible plants." What  should that mean for us?  Does that mean that one should avoid drinking tea?

From a Traditional Jewish Medicine perspective, I wouldn't be concerned about tea, and I am not simply sticking my head in the ground like an ostrich!   The fact is that the Western model is flawed, and here's why: One of the important lessons we learn from thinking "Eastern" is to not look at minutia, nor substances in isolation.  So much in Chinese medicine cannot be explained biochemically, ie. why certain formulas may be effective to completely resolve certain conditions whereas the individual constituents do not have properties that would seem to be useful or effective, but synergistically or in-vivo, they do work.  

A second important consideration that Western naturopaths and other "health" proponents espouse and which I believe is flawed is the myth of nutritional content.   It is largely irrelevant how much of a certain nutrient a food or substance contains,  but what is really important is the degree of absorption.  For that which is ingested and is not utilized by the body can put  a toxic  burden on the body.  The same may be true with certain toxic minerals or chemicals such as fluoride. Tea may very well contain other constituents which bind or transform the fluoride, rendering it benign and easily allowing it to be eliminated from the body.  Empirically, is there any history of fluoride poisoning by those who drink 2-3 cups of tea daily?  The classic symptoms of fluoride poisoning are mottling of the teeth, and (like with mercury) hypersensitivity of nerves. So if someone is exhibiting these symptoms, indeed they should avoid tea, but others?  I personally wouldn't be concerned.

 Third, and here I speak from an esoteric Jewish perspective:  (and this also relates back to the first point).  According to Jewish tradition, all substances in nature have biochemical properties, which can be explained, but they also have non-explainable, mystical healing properties which are not governed by the laws as nature and will never be able to be rationally explained, no matter how advanced or developed biochemistry becomes.  Sometimes people of science just have to have the humility to accept that which is beyond their scope.  So too, here.  If a food or drink has been used for thousands of years safely, and yet it contains a toxic chemical, fluoride,  maybe, the fluoride in tea is different than the fluoride synthetically prepared?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Seeing and understanding the Kindness of Hashem in everything that happens!

For those of you who don't know, B"H I am engaged to marry a wonderful woman who Hashem has bestowed upon me with His enormous kindness, sweetness and love.  G-d willing, Yocheved Krems and I will be getting married on the night of the 10th of Nissan (corresponding to April 9) in the holy city of Yerushalayim, where she has lived for the past 25 years.  We will be spending Pesach (Passover) there, and then returning to Los Angeles to begin part II of our lives. With G-d's help and approval may they be long and  fulfilling years of sweetness, rewewal and discovery, years that we always merit to feel Hashem's love with clarity.

Yesterday, I brought Yocheved to the airport to begin her trip eastward, flying to icy  Boston where she will be spending Purim with her son Zalman and his family.  It will be a wonderful reunion in that they haven't seen each other for some years, before her return to Israel.  

I want to share with you a remarkable glimpse into the amazing deliverances that  Hashem constantly sends us--the key being to have the  the humility to see and the openness to understand.  After davening mincha, I picked up Yocheved from Bed Bath and Beyond where she was buying some new items with which to begin our new life.  Before leaving LA, we wanted to go together to one of my mashpiyim  to receive his brocho, a dear friend and great holy man who has helped me through many trying and challenging times over the past 20 years, and who has, each year that she was sick, read the megillah for my Chana Fayge, A"H).  He was wonderful and blessed us for many years of unity and  love,  that every day of our new life should be filled with G-dliness, and that the greatest tool that the "other side" uses to challenge our closeness to Hashem is stress!  With that in mind, when we came out to our car, there was a ticket for $68.  But instead of being upset, the two of us resolved to thank Hashem that he gave us what we needed and not rush to the airport, though Yocheved's flight what scheduled to leave in an hour and 20 minutes.  
Thanks to Hashem's continued great kindness, we made it to LAX without especially rushing at 8:35 (the flight to Boston was for 9:30) and we parted ways with the hope of next seeing each other soon in Israel.  Strangely, though, after eating something that Yocheved had packed for me,  driving out the airport, and turning onto 96th St, for some reason, I had looped around and was going back into the airport.  OK.  So, I tried exiting again, and... again, as I turned left, to exit the airport, I realized that I was supposed to turn right, so here I was again going back into the airport.  I paused, looked on my right, and there on the passenger seat was...Yocheved's winter coat and scarf.  "Oh, no!" I thought to myself, Yocheved is on her way to freezing Boston without a winter coat.  It was now 9:00 o'clock, and instinctively, though I was now out of the airport on Airport Blvd and Manchester, I turned around to go back.  But then stopped, realizing that it was 9:05, and it would be impossible to meet Yocheved, even if she realized that she didn't have her coat and scarf, for how could she possibly run all the way back to the street, meet me, and then get back wait in line to again clear TSA security  and make her 9:30 flight?  It was clearly impossible.  But as i was turning around and thinking this, I received an unfamilar phone # on my cell phone with a 203 area code.  I usually don't answer strange #'s but for some reason, I decided to answer. It was Yocheved!  (That afternoon, we had dropped her cell phone off to be repaired...so she didn't have one.)  She asked where I was, and I told her that I was just 3 minutes away from the airport, and another two minutes G-d wiilling to come around to American Airlines. We agreed to try.  I want to now share with you her end of this wonderful G-dly kindness: 

"So, after you brought me the coats/sweater (it's COLD here!!!), I ran to the TSA checkpoint. I had been shunted to a second line before I came out to you, and asked to go back in that line. Thank G-d. The agent recognized me and let me pass into that line. Which turned out to be a TSA pre-check line. I didn't have to remove my laptop  or my jacket/shoes, and I breezed through, curious about the long line from the other line. I made it to the gate just before they closed it - I was the second to last person to board the plane and they shot my carry-on into the luggage hold, as they had no more space in the overhead cabinets.

Imagine if I'd been in the other line. (Still waiting to hear what happened to you!)

Hashem is good."

Indeed!!!!!!

Oh, and by the way, I realized that $68, the amount of the ticket is the gematria (spiritual numerical value)  of "chayim"-life.  I realize that this fine that I will gladly pay was a pidyon, a redemption or ransom for my/our souls.  Our sages tell us that the world we live in operates like the tides, ebbing and flowing between kindness and harsh judgments. Often, we don't see exactly what is going on, or more accurately, we are not supposed to see what is really going on, for if we did, it would take away our free choice, and how can one express his love if something is so obvious and compelling that he doesn't have free choice?!   And yet, because Hashem loves us so much, He gives us a special escape hatch--that when we realize that the attribute of harsh judgement is in operation and at the for, we can mitigate it and sweeten it in several ways, creating a new Universe!!  How do we do it?  By doing acts of kindness, or by redeeming ourselves with money.  Sometimes we merit being given the opportunity to give tzedoka, to help those in need with our money, and sometimes, like in my case, Hashem, lovingly, envelopes me and gives me the ticket of redemption.

May you always merit to see His love and wishing you all a wonderful glowing Shabbos and the happiest Purim ever!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The power of prayer on purim kotton

The Jewish calendar as you may know is lunar based, and as such has 354 days in it.  But this can present a problem, as Pesach (Passover) must always come out in the spring time. Because the solar calendar has  approximately 365 1/4 days in its yearly cycle, this can present a problem, as each lunar year is approximately 11 days shorter than the solar year.  As such, within our Oral tradition which was simultaneously given on Mount Sinai to explain and understand the written Torah,  we find the concept of a "leap month," an extra month that is added seven times within a cycle of nineteen years in order to keep Pesach in the Spring.  That month is always the last month of the lunar year, or Adar.  So, for example, this year we have a thirteenth month, Adar Sheni (the second Adar).  Practically, the significance of the month of Adar relates to the holiday of Purim which in a regular, non-leap year comes out on the 14th day of Adar.  On Purim we recall the remarkable miracle which occurred more than 2300 years ago, in which a  plot to annihilate all the Jews on one day, was miraculously overturned. There are very specific commandments that were legislated by the Jewish Sages related to Purim. They include, reading the story of Purim twice from a megilla (a scroll), giving gifts of food to ones friends, giving special charitable gifts to the poor,  and making a festive meal with our friends and family, involving also drinking wine.  All of this relates to Purim, which is celebrated on the second Adar in a leap year (in order to connect it with the other great deliverance Pesach, which occurs exactly one month later.  But what of the 14th of the first Adar, which is called Purim Koton (the little Purim). Does it have any special significance?  
A very close friend of mine sent me the following that I want to share with you (and which I have edited): 
Rav Avraham Schorr Shlita, of Flatbush, NY spoke about the power of prayer on Purim Kotton.

He quoted the Chidushei Harim (the first Gerer Rebbe) who explains a reason for the mitzvah of drinking on Purim.
In the times of the Bal Shem Tov, there was a terrible decree against the Jews. Everybody prayed and did various mitzvahs but nothing changed and the decree was still in place. Finally the Bal Shem Tov instructed one of his followers to go to a distant town and bring a certain drunkard  back to him. The messenger was advised not to allow the drunkard to drink so that he would be sober when he was brought to the Bal Shem Tov. When the drunkard was brought to the Bal Shem Tov, he asked the drunkard for a blessing for the decree to be abolished and when he gave the blessing immediately the decree was annulled.

The Bal Shem Tov explained to his close followers that this person had done an unbelievable mitzvah of saving a girl, and  the mitzvah of Pidyun Shevuyim (redeeming captives).  The heavenly court,  was so moved that it was decreed that whatever this person would ask for would be granted immediately.
Suddenly though,  there was a great debate in heaven:  how could a simple person be given such unbelievable power of blessing, might he not use it for the wrong purposes?  Therefore, it was decided that he would be a drunkard and  not even realize the power he was given.

The Chidushei Harim explained that on Purim there is a special law that anyone who extends his hand to you in need, must be given.  But this is also true with regard to davening!  For  when we pray to Hashem on Purim, He HAS to answer our requests. So, to counter this unbelievable power of prayer, our sages legislated the law of drinking on Purim so that we don't use the day of Purim to pray for the wrong things! It is also wrong, says the Chidushei Harim, to NOT drink on Purim and to sit and daven all day, for by doing as such, one is going against the will of the sages, and will certainly not see blessing in his actions."
Now, continued Rav Schorr, the Mishna is Megillah speaks specifically of the differences between the two Adars and points out that the only difference between them is that we do not read the Megilla in the first Adar, nor do we give gifts to the poor. 
HOWEVER, THOUGH THE POWER OF PRAYER REMAINS EXACTLY THE SAME EXCEPT THAT ON PURIM KOTTON THE SAGES DID NOT LEGISLATE AN OBLIGATION TO DRINK WINE..

SO TODAY THEREFORE IS A  REMARKABLE  DAY WITH REGARD TO THE TREMENDOUS POWER OF PRAYER YET WITHOUT THE OBLIGATION TO DRINK, TO COUNTER IT!

LET US THEREFORE, USE THIS DAY TO DAVEN TO HASHEM FOR ALL THE RIGHT THINGS.  WE ARE LIVING IN  DIFFICULT TIMES, SO MANY PEOPLE SUFFER  AND THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO DAVEN FOR.  
MAY WE DAVEN WISELY AND MAY WE MERIT TO SEE THE ULTIMATE REDEMPTION WITH THE COMING OF OUR RIGHTEOUS REDEEMER, THE MOSHIACH QUICKLY IN OUR DAYS.

THIS SHOULD BE A ZECHUS FOR THE NESHAMA OF MOSHE DOVID BEN PINCHUS DOV, HIS NESHAMA SHOULD HAVE AN ALIYA.