Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This is a letter that the Rebbe wrote to Reb Michoel Meir Goldhirsch of Melbourne, Australia on 15 Tammuz, 5746 (1986):

…In medical science there are two basic areas of approach: (a) therapeutic medicine and (b) preventive medicine. The first deals with medical disorders brought to the physician’s attention for actual treatment. The second, which has been gaining an increasingly greater role in modern times, is to attain the highest possible level of public health through the prevention of sickness by such methods as vaccination, public and personal hygiene, wholesome diets, and by various other ways and means.

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Needless to say, while there is no getting away now from the need of therapeutic medicine, preventive medicine is, ideally, the more desirable method. In the long term, it is surely also more desirable from every point of view, including cost, etc., not to mention the prevention of pain and suffering, G-d forbid. Also, in preventive medicine there is no need for recourse to radical means, such as surgery and the like, which, unfortunately, is part of curative medicine.

For preventive medicine to be most successful and effective, it is necessary to start it from earliest childhood beginning with vaccination, brushing one’s teeth to prevent cavities, a balanced diet, and so forth. In regard to Jewish children, it calls for strict observance of the laws of Kashrus of foods and beverages, and it is well known how it affects mental and physical development. Thus, when our Sages declare that the Torah brings a refuah (healing) to the world, it refers not only to spiritual health, but also to plain physical and mental health as well. Indeed, so we find it explicitly in the Divine promise in the Torah: “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of Hashem, your G-d, and will obey His commandments and keep all His statutes – none of the diseases . . . will I put on you, for I, Hashem, am your Healer” (Exod. 15:26). Here is a clear assurance that the Torah and mitzvot are the real preventive refuah. Moreover, while the Torah is the most effective preventive medicine, it is also the most pleasant one, as it is written, “Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.”

Needless to say, this is not the only, nor the main, purpose of the Torah and mitzvot, which, essentially, have to do with Kedusha and G-dliness, and are primarily concerned with the eternal life of the neshama, etc., etc. But we are speaking here of Torah in relation to physical health, especially that of children, which was your original intention in suggesting that your tzedaka be used for a hospital for children, run in accordance with the halacha.

Aside from other practical considerations, the best way of implementing your intention and to achieve even incomparably greater results than can be imagined, is to apply your contribution in the area of Torah-Chinuch for children.

As you know, one of the most vital activities of Chabad-Lubavitch is Torah-true chinuch, both for the young in years as well as for the young in Torah knowledge and Yiddishkeit experience.

These activities thus cover a wide range, from kosher nurseries to helping the aged.

In light of all above, it is my considered opinion that if your tzedaka is used in this way, it would be in the real spirit and letter of your idea and intention. For, used in this way, it will help ensure healthy children, physically, mentally and spiritually, so that there would be no need to establish a special hospital for children according to the halacha, since they will be raised fully in accord with the halacha.

The Chabad-Lubavitch activities and programs cover a sufficiently wide range as to offer a choice of options within that range. I would suggest that you should not limit yourself to one area, but preferably to two areas within that range. Hashem will surely grant that it be the right choice and will have His generous blessings for hatzlocha.

The present month of Tammuz, the month of the Geula anniversary of my father-in-law the Rebbe, of saintly memory, which we have just celebrated, on the 12–13th of Tammuz, is particularly auspicious for the above. In his letter on the occasion of the first anniversary of his geula, the Baal HaGeula wrote that his deliverance was not just a personal one, but embraced all our Jewish people from “I” (me) to the Jew who is as yet “A Jew only in name.” The Baal HaGeula has given assurance that everyone who follows in his footsteps and participates in his work of spreading and strengthening Yiddishkeit, is assured of Hashem’s blessings for hatzlocha in these endeavors, as well as in one’s personal needs, both materially and spiritually.

Thus, your tzedaka comes in a most auspicious time, and the zechus of it will endure forever.

With esteem and blessing

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at Lubavitchyouth@gmail.com.