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Gitin, 69

GITIN 68 & 69 - Sponsored by Rabbi Dr. Eli Turkel and his wife, Jeri Turkel. May Hashem bless them with many years of Simcha, health and fulfillment, and may they see all of their children and grandchildren follow them in the ways of Torah and Yir'as Shamayim!


HALACHAH: The Gemara describes, at length, many remedies for various ailments. These Talmudic remedies differ noticeably from the medicines and medical procedures that are commonly used today. Are these remedies recommended for use today?

The YAM SHEL SHLOMO (Chulin 8:12) writes that the Sages of previous generations issued a Cherem (decree of excommunication) in order to prevent anyone from attempting to use the remedies described in the Gemara. He explains that this was instituted because these remedies were prepared specifically for the nature of people in Bavel and for the climate of Bavel, and they are not compatible for treating people of our nature and in our climates. If a person would attempt to use these remedies and find that they do not work, he might come to ridicule the words of the Chachamim without realizing the reason why they did not work for him.

The MAHARIL (quoted by REBBI AKIVA EIGER in the Shulchan Aruch YD 336) says a similar idea. He gives an additional explanation for why these remedies do not work for our illnesses. He says that we do not know the exact method of preparation of these remedies and therefore they do not work for us. (See Rebbi Akiva Eiger there for an exception to this rule.)

The CHAVOS YA'IR (Teshuvah 234) expands on this idea. He says that we do not know the exact translation or identity of the herbs and other materials mentioned in the Gemara, nor do we know the exact quantities that should be used and the proper method of preparation. He cites, also, the Yam Shel Shlomo's explanation.

The RAMBAM never quotes any of these remedies. In Hilchos De'os (4:18) he mentions occasions when one may perform blood-letting. The HAGAHOS MAIMONIYOS quotes the Gemara in Shabbos (129a) that is not compatible with what the Rambam writes. The KESEF MISHNAH answers that this is not a question on the Rambam since it is known that the remedies of Bavel, to which the Gemara in Shabbos is referring, are not compatible to people in our places of residence. This can also explain why the Rambam does not cite any of the Talmudic remedies.

RAV SHERIRA GA'ON, quoted in the Otzer ha'Ge'onim (Chelek Teshuvos, Gitin 68b), writes that the remedies written in the Gemara were developed based on general medical knowledge of that time and not based on Torah knowledge (for if they were based on Torah knowledge, then the remedies would apply today as well). Since the remedies are based on the general medical knowledge of that time, we are not required to accept these medications and procedures. RABEINU AVRAHAM, the son of the Rambam, writes a similar idea. (It is important to stress that this applies only to medical procedures. In contrast, *Halachic* decisions made by the Amora'im are based on their knowledge of the Torah and must be accepted, since they had a greater and clearer knowledge of the laws of the Torah than we have today.)


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