Psalm 86

“In my time of trouble I call You, for You will answer me.” (86:7)

When it comes to medical issues and men, we tend to ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Minor problems can heal without intervention, but significant issues rarely disappear without attention. Untreated, we might at some point find ourselves in serious trouble asking God for help. God’s response might very well be, “I send you that twinge of pain or that questionable blood test for a reason. That was my answer to your question even before you asked it. Get yourself to the doctor, do not ignore your body’s symptoms!”

Psalm 78

“They ate till they were sated.” (78:29)

A weight loss diet should be simple. Eat until you are satisfied, and then stop eating. For the vast majority of us, our bodies tell us when we have eaten enough. Our problem is that we are not listening. Or we don’t want to listen, because the stimulation of taste, smell, and texture gives us so much pleasure that we shut down the internal voice yelling ‘Stop!’ and take another bite, another helping, and more dessert. The solution is simple and infinitely difficult. Practice active listening, both external, to loved ones, friends, and co-workers, and internal, to your own body.

Psalm 47

“All peoples, clap hands.” (47:2)

There is no better boost to your enjoyment of music than clapping hands to the beat (except if you are at the symphony listening to classical music). Sway, move your arms and legs, and dance. Let your body vibrate in tune with the music. During prayer, as well, let yourself transcend the intellectual experience of reading words on a page. At appropriate moments, sign along with the cantor and encourage your soul to vibrate to the tune of gratitude, thanksgiving, and dedicating yourself to God’s mitzvot. As much as some prayers intend to move God to action, more often prayer intends to transform the pray-er.

Psalm 10

“Mischief and iniquity are under his tongue.” (10:7)

The potential for destructive language is always lurking, ready to burst forth. Sometimes it seems like the tongue has a mind of its own. No sooner have I said something than I regret what I said. I didn’t mean to say it, I wasn’t even aware that those words were about to come out of my mouth. Human beings have a yetzer hara (selfish inclination) tempting us to unleash those devilish little imps under our tongue, but we also have a yetzer hatov (good inclination) reminding us to keep them under wraps.

Psalm 147

 

The healer of the broken hearted (147:3)

Deuteronomy 10:16 speaks of circumcising the foreskin of one’s heart to remove impediments to recognizing God, but he could not have foreseen using miniature cameras to place stents in partially clogged arteries or cracking open someone’s chest and replace the arteries coming out of the heart.

Ezekiel used the metaphor of a heart transplant to speak about a fundamental transformation in the human being. He wrote, “I will remove the heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh” (11:19, 36:26), but he could not have imagined attaching a human being to a machine to oxygenate and circulate blood while removing an ailing heart from the person’s chest and replacing it with a healthy heart.

The Psalmist could never have envisioned what goes through my mind when I read the phrase, “healer of the broken hearted.” I think of my relatives and friends and members of my congregation who have survived heart procedures that under normal circumstances have become routine. Even so, because messing around with the heart is never completely routine, this Psalmist’s image of God as a Divine doctor gives me strength and hope.

Imagine the presence of God hovering in the operating room guiding the hand of the surgeon. Think about the miraculous functioning of the body, and consider the asher yatzar berakha:

You are the source of blessing, Adonai our God, eternal Sovereign of the universe, who formed the human being with wisdom and created within him many openings and many hollows. It is revealed and known before Your Throne of Glory that if one of them ruptures or one of them becomes blocked, it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You. You are the source of blessing, Adonai, who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱ–לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים. גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֹדֶךָ שֶׁאִם יִפָּתֵחַ אֶחָד מֵהֶם אוֹ יִסָּתֵם אֶחָד מֵהֶם אִיאֶפְשַׁר לְהִתְקַיֵּם וְלַעֲמוֹד לְפָנֶיךָ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ רוֹפֵא כָל בָּשָׂר וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשֹוֹת