Torah and jad - exhibits in Big Synagogue Museum, Wlodawa - Poland.

Sacred texts and the juxtaposition of 1938

By Kimberly Burnham

Lately, I have been focused on who are we destroying and excluding. Are we marginalizing the very people who can contribute to our survival — to our finding a way for all 7 billion of us to thrive and be healthy?

Let’s juxtapose two things that happened in 1938 and see if comparing different points of view can bring new and useful insights.

In October 1938, “The Nazi Minister of Economics” by Walter Funk boasted that by 1938, the authorities had managed to steal Jewish property worth two million marks. Jews’ passports were invalidated. Nazi Germany carried out the brutal eviction of Jews with Polish citizenship. The deportation to Zbaszyn was directly connected with the pogrom of “Kristallnacht” – a central anti-Jewish event that took place on November 9-10, 1938.”

Meanwhile at the same time on a very different topic in the United States, Dr. Abraham Bernstein, wrote an article entitled, “The Talmud a Medical Laboratory” in The California and Western Medicine Journal (October, 1938), which looked at the high level of health knowledge in a 2,000 year old Jewish text.

In the years following 1938, many Jews were killed and there was a need to reimage the future of Judaism after such a “crash,” as Rabbi Benay Lappe teaches at Svara, a traditionally radical yeshiva in the Chicago area. She looks at how radical the words of the rabbis can be even today, or some might say especially today as every religion has challenges, some so great as to be considered a “crash” or an opportunity to find ways to remix ancient knowledge and modern life.

With the traditional medical system in crisis and such a great need for healing on a physical and emotional level, let’s consider what we can learn from ancient sacred texts and make our lives better and more vibrant today.

In the 1938 article, Abraham Bernstein expounded on the healing skills and medical knowledge of men more than 2,000 years ago:

“The nature of the secretory glands-every one of which, they [the rabbis of the Talmud] said, secretes a fluid peculiar to itself-was recognized by them 2,000 years before Beaumont experimented on Alexis St. Martin. The real function of the stomach, and the part which the intestines play in the digestion of food, was ascertained by them 2,100 years before Pavlov published his discoveries to the medical world. More than 2,000 years before Morgagni, the father of modern pathologicanatomical research, the rabbis enumerated 140 pathological conditions. At a time when the function of the brain and that of the spinal cord were but imperfectly understood, the Talmud considered the brain, which it described as having two linings, a tender (pia mater) and a tough (dura mater), as being the seat of the reasoning faculties, while upon the integrity of the spinal cord depends all the movements of the body. The heart, in which the auricles and ventricles were described, is the organ upon which the life of all other bodily organs depends; the liver is the laboratory for blood, the pancreas is an accessory of the liver; and respiration was compared to the process of burning, so that expired air is incapable of sustaining life.”

Can we learn how to use our hearts and brains from 2,000-year-old texts? What can we learn from the points of view that came out of 1938? What can we learn that will help heal our world today?

Check Also

Finding Peace after Tragedy

The killing of four students in off-campus housing in Moscow has been an unthinkable and heartbreaking tragedy. My heart goes out to the family and friends affected directly by this horrific crime. While the story continues to unfold in the news media, I have sought my Heavenly Father in prayer. I have pled for him to provide consolation to those deeply wounded and forever changed by this senseless act, especially the families of the victims

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *