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JUDAISM AND MEDICINE ALBERT B. SABIN* I accepted the invitation to give a lecture on "Judaism and Medicine" for the dedication of Georgette Sosin's symbolic sculpture by the same name with the thought that it ought to be easy for me. I am a Jew by heritage, linked to the 40-century-old history oftheJewish people, and I have been a physician for half a century. After all, does not the biblical quotation from Jeremiah, "For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, says the Lord," on which Georgette Sosin's sculpture is based, give an indication ofwhatjudaism andMedicine is all about? The sculpture's Hebrew letter "shin," representing God, and the fire, representing the burning bush that is never consumed (Exod. 3:2), say a great deal about the God of the Jews and the Jewish people. But when the time came for me to prepare this lecture I faced a dilemma. Is the meaning of the words "Judaism" and "medicine" selfevident ? Can I proceed to explore the existence of a special linkage between them without first exploring some of the many facets of both Judaism and medicine? The answer was no, because Judaism to me is more than the religion of differentJews as it evolved over the ages, and the full meaning of the word "medicine" is not self-evident. Evolution ofReligions In 1930, while he still Uved in his native Germany, Albert Einstein, who regarded himself as a Jew and who was regarded as a Jew by the world, expressed his views on religion and science in a brief article [I]. He said that "everything that men do or think concerns the satisfaction ofthe needs they feel or the escape from pain. ... In primitive peoples it is, first of all, fear that awakens religious ideas—fear of hunger, of wild The Milton Silvermann Memorial Lecture, presented September 21, 1980, at the Mount Sinai Hospital of Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the dedication ofthe sculpture by Georgette Sosin,Judaism and Medicine. ?Address: Sutton Towers, Apartment 1001, 3101 New Mexico Avenue N.W., Washington , D.C. 20016.© 1983 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0031-5982/83/2602-0337$01.00 188 I AlbertB. Sabin · Judaism and Medicine animals, of illness and of death." In response to this fear, "the human soul forges a being more or less like itself, on whose will and activities depend the experiences which it fears." Einstein called this the "religion of fear." The social needs for moral behavior in communal life and "the longing for guidance, for love and succor, provides the stimulus for the growth of a social or moral conception of God"—the god "who protects, decides, rewards and punishes." Common to these religions is "the anthropomorphic character of the idea of God"—a god possessing the human attributes of love and hate, of reward for good behavior in accord with moral and other codes created by man but attributed to God, and of punishment for those who break the moral and social codes designed to protect communal life. To provide stabiHty and continuity for the religious dogmas that emerged, churches and priests were established to teach their own concepts ofthe meaning and will ofGod to the multitudes and to devise conditions for worship of the god or gods upon whose good graces the well-being ofthe individual and ofthe tribe was believed to depend. Einstein, as others before him and after him, was imbued with another form of religious feeUng which he called the "cosmic religious sense." This cosmic religious sense "recognizes neither dogmas nor God made in man's image. Consequently there cannot be a church whose chief doctrines are based on the cosmic religious experience." The cosmic religious experience takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law and the incomprehensible grandeur of creation. The scientist who searches for understanding of the laws governing the universe is imbued with a cosmic religious sense that is deeper and nobler by far than that based on more primitive concepts developed thousands of years ago. According to Einstein [1], For anyone who is pervaded with the sense ofcausal law in all...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 188-197
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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