Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rav Sternbuch: Pikuach nefesh & alternative medicine

 From this weeks Mishpacha News page 12 (my translation).

Rav Sternbuch replied when asked by "Mishpacha Magazine, "When you are dealing with a case of pikuach nefesh - there is no basis to be lenient to refrain from giving treatments which are harsh such as radiation or chemotherapy. If two doctors say that there it is necessary to have these treatments there is no option of avoiding them because of concern for serious side effects. In addition it is impossible to replace the conventional treatments for non-conventional treatments in cases of malignant illnesses since these non-conventional treatments are not considered treatments at all. These alternative medical treatments can be supplements to regular treatment but under no circcumstances can they be used instead of chemotherapy and radiation treatment - even if a homopathetic or natural doctor asserts that they can be.


  1. A refreshing voice in the wilderness. Too many religious Jew are head over heels in love with spurious therapies. One example out of hundreds. A popular shul pamphlet suggested that since there is "controversy" whether inoculation for flu is beneficial or otherwise, shev velo taaseh adif. I phoned him to point out that people with heart trouble are at risk of dying from flu. This did no result in a retraction. Homeopathic "medicine," reflexology, and the like are unfortunately fleecing thousands of frum Jews of their scarce resources.

    1. Not to mention forbidden!
      כל שאיו בו משום רפואה יש בו משום דרכי האמורי

      Frum Jews should be at the forefront in opposing fake remedies.

  2. The previous Bostoner Rebbe ztvk"l (whose yorzeit was today) was known to be very involved with medical issues. He once told me that חז"ל learn from the posuk ורפוא ירפא that a physician is granted permission to heal. This is referring to an established healing, not to every quack who calls himself a healer.

  3. I heard from the mouth of R. Yaakov Weinberg ztzl, one must seek healing through the medicine of your time only. That is the way HaShem will provide healing. Even if the 'alternative treatment' may one day be accepted, it should not be used now.

    1. I have been treating frum Jews for years under the auspices of a very respected Dayan in London. Understanding how the body works/can be treated without drugs introduces you to the nes that is the body.

      It is part of the whole make-up of the body: eat healthily, sleep properly, exercise.

      I once gave a talk at Tottenhasm Adass: when a baby falls, hurts itself and cries, what does the mother do? Picks it up, kisses it and rubs her hand over the pain - automatically. Why? She knows instinctively that kissing and touch help heal. Touch is vital at all stages of life. I, as a reflexologist and masseur of over twenty years know how people lacking loving touch as a baby suffer psychologically later. Reflexology and massage in its various forms uses the power of touch and feeling to be a shaliach in healing: the ONLY Healer is H-shem. Therapists are the messengers. When you shake or hold hands you may tell a great deal about that person: again, this is TOUCH.

      Their is so much to learn about the power of touch, especially the many medical skeptics who have participated in my hospital workshops.

      Clive Lee


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.