Torah and Medicine 4 Medical Methods: Homeopathy, Allopathy, Osteopathy, Naturopathy

Introduction

Contemporary medical practice may be seen to employ four general methods of healing: homeopathy, allopathy, osteopathy, and naturopathy.

1. Homeopathy

The underlying principle of this healing system is known as the “law of similars,” where one paradoxically uses either the disease itself or something similar to the disease as the cure. This principle, long known to mankind, finds its explicit expression in the idiom of the sages as healing “like by like.”1 Furthermore, the sages teach that this is the method employed by God Himself, who “sweetens [that is, heals] bitterness with bitterness.”2“Like by like” implies that the cure lies within the disease itself, meaning that the disease is merely a foreign “shell” of evil containing within it a kernel of good.

2. Allopathy (conventional medicine)

This healing system is based upon the logic that the way to fight off disease is by using an opposing force that confronts the illness head on. Human intelligence then proceeds to employ scientific methods to extract from nature chemicals whose properties are intended to counteract the symptoms and overt physical manifestations of a given disease. The disease is considered to be no more than its physical manifestations, which are seen to be negative in essence and must be fought off in their entirety. (Only in most recent years is conventional medicine beginning to recognize the relation of the psyche to the body and that there is more to disease than that which meets the eye.)

3. Osteopathy

According to this healing system, which includes Western chiropractic and Chinese acupuncture and acupressure, the body is rectified without any medicinal intervention, but only by the hands (or needles) of the physician balancing body energies and realigning the body to its proper state. Osteopathy treats the muscles and penetrates to the nervous system by treating the spinal cord.

4. Naturopathy

This system of healing through herbs and other resources taken directly from nature reflects the belief that God, the Creator, surely provided a cure, in the natural realm—the creation of His hands (as noted above, “to create” in Hebrew is cognate with “to heal”)—before He made possible a disease.3 This system presupposes that there must be something in our world that can serve as a natural cure for every disease, something that does not require human manipulation to alter its state. This sense, which reflects a deep appreciation of the great, latent potential inherent in the earth, is alluded to in the verse in Psalms that states, “Truth will sprout out of the earth.”4

“Truth” in Kabbalah is the ultimate healing power, applying even to the revival of the dead. The word for “truth” (אמת , pronounced: emet), is read, “alef [the first letter of the alphabet, alluding to God, revives] meit [‘the dead’].”

Furthermore, the effectiveness of the natural method of healing is suggested by another verse found in Deuteronomy that, “man is a tree of the field,”5 implying our essential connection to nature and nature’s power to heal our ailments. In addition to herbal remedies, naturopathy, more than the other methods of healing, emphasizes the importance of proper diet and nutrition, physical exercise and healthy lifestyles in general.

Of these four methods of healing, the three—allopathy, osteopathy, naturopathy—are all under the direction of mortal reason. Only homeopathy transcends mortal reason, with the paradox of healing bitterness with bitterness, and is the bridge between the other levels and the fifth level—pure spiritual healing, employing Torah-inspired methods—that we will discuss in the next section.

The various systems of healing can be seen as corresponding to the letters of God’s essential Name Havayah, as follows:

י
upper tip ofyud

pure spiritual healing

employing Torah-inspired methods

י
yud

homeopathy

applying the law of similars

ה
hei

allopathy

fighting disease “head on”

ו
vav

osteopathy

aligning the body

ה
hei

naturopathy

tapping the resources of nature

The implication of homeopathy that cure lies within the disease itself and that the disease is merely a foreign “shell” of evil concealing within it a kernel of good is a Divinely-inspired insight into the nature of reality in general and the human condition in particular. This insight corresponds to the wisdom embodied in the point of the yud of God’s Name.

Allopathy, that is, conventional Western medical practice, is based on the pattern of mortal reason (in contrast with Divinely-inspired insight) that corresponds in Kabbalah to the first hei of God’s Name.

Osteopathy, as noted above, treats the muscles (the physiological system that corresponds to the sefirah of beauty) and even deeper, penetrates to the nervous system (the system that corresponds to the sefirah of knowledge, the inner “soul” of beauty) by treating the spinal cord. Beauty—the torso, which corresponds to the vav of God’s Name—means “beauty,” referring in particular to a beautiful body. In the words of theZohar, “beauty is the body.”6 A “straight” or “upright” body (the work of the chiropractor) is a beautiful one.7

Naturopathy, with its emphasis on finding the cure in nature, corresponds to the final heiof God’s Name, which refers to the level of Divinity inherent in nature itself, that is, the healing power contained within every created being, to heal both itself and others.

Four Methods as One

As the four methods described above correspond to the four letters of God’s essential Name, Havayah, and as “God is one,” the ideal physician is one who knows how to employ all four methods of healing, recognizing their common Divine source, the healing power of God.

In general, in less severe instances of disease, it is wise to begin with natural means, and if not sufficient, to proceed up the ladder of the four methods. Of course, the accomplished physician will know from experience which method is best for which disease.

As the letters of the Name Havayah correspond to the sefirot, which in turn correlate to the physiological systems, it would appear from our above analysis that:

  • Diseases related to the respiratory system (associated with crown, the upper tip of the yud of the Name Havayah) or to the bone marrow (associated with wisdom, the yud of the Name Havayah) might well be treated by homeopathy.
  • Diseases related to the blood (associated with understanding, the first hei of the Name Havayah) might best be treated by conventional medicine.
  • Diseases related to one of the physiological systems that correspond to the emotive attributes of the soul, in particular those related to the muscular system (associated with beauty, the central attribute amongst the emotions, the vav of the NameHavayah) would best be treated by osteopathy.
  • Diseases of the digestive system (associated with kingdom, the final hei of the Name Havayah) most certainly should be treated, initially, by natural methods, beginning with diet.

 To summarize:

God’s Name

sefirah

method of healing

diseases related to

yud

wisdom

homeopathy

respiration and the bone-marrow

hei

understanding

allopathy

the blood

vav

loving-kindness thru foundation

osteopathy

the muscular system

hei

kingdom

naturopathy

the digestive system

1 See Nachmanides on Numbers 21:9.

2 Bereishit Rabbah 77a.

3 In the words of the sages, “[God] prepared the remedy before He brought on the disease” (Megilah 13b).

4 Psalms 85:12.

5 Deuteronomy 20:19. There it appears as a rhetorical question, but throughout Rabbinic literature it is read as in the text.

6 Tikunei Zohar, introduction (17a).

7 Da’at is referred to in Kabbalah as the soul of beauty, indicating that the nervous system (knowledge) lies at the core of the muscular system (beauty), as explained above. In the form of the letter vav, the yud at the head of the vav alludes toknowledge (the nervous system) while the straight and upright extension of the vav itself represents beauty (the torso and muscular system).

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