Welcome to the twelfth and final session of the introductory course on 'The Biblical Perspective on Child Development" A fundamental concept of Jewish philosophy is that the Bible encompasses all of life….We have considered the foundations of life, the biblical perspective on conception and birth, caring for the newborn, infant and child, child behavior, early childhood education and discipline. The final session of this semester will consider the Biblical perspective on health and disease which is vital for proper functioning and to live life in accordance with Biblical precepts. This session precedes the advanced course on Biblical Perspectives on Child Development which encompasses "The Dimensions of Development" (physical, cognitive, and emotional development, personality development) and "Child Development in the Social Context (socialization, the parent- child relationship, education, the rights of the child, adolescence, and maturity).



The Biblical term "tza'ar giddul banim" ("the difficulties of rearing children") relates to all the difficulties and ailments accompanying child development. The fact that these ailments are pervasive and sometimes debilitating is evident from the declaration that "it is easier to see a whole forest of young olive trees grow than to rear one child in Palestine.(Genesis Rabbah 20:15) Illness is certainly the most difficult trouble of childhood. Nothing causes more anxiety and frustration than the sight of a child who is suffering pain from disease.

While, as we know, parents spend a great deal of time and energy caring for the health and safety of their children, it is surprising that we find no description or example of this in the Bible. It would seem that child care in biblical times was relatively simple, limited to providing for the child's basic needs, such as food and clothing. Indeed, it is very likely that mothers in those days did not have to deal with colds, measles, mumps, or other childhood diseases, for the Talmud states that man was not afflicted with illness until the generation of Jacob and that medical treatment for disease originated in the period of Elijah's prophecy. (Genesis 48; Bava Metzia 87)

Another source says that weakness descended on mankind with the death of Rabbi Gamliel.(Megillah 21) As one might expect from these statements, we find references to childhood diseases in the Prophets and more detailed descriptions of symptoms and diagnosis as well as prevention and treatment in the Talmud…(As we have discussed earlier in the course, both the written Torah and the Oral Torah were delivered by the Almighty at Mount Sinai and the law, midrash and advice given by Talmudic scholars all emanate from the revelation at Mount Sinai.)

The obligation to take care of one's health is incorporated in Judaism as a fundamental halakhic principle Biblical law. Each person is responsible for safeguarding his/her body and maintaining health, based on the Biblical verse "heed and take care of yourselves." (Deut 4:15) Jewish scholars quoted in the Talmud and the Responsa interpret this as a halakhic rule stemming directly from the Bible (Rambam, Hilkhot Deot 4) Each individual must strive to be fit in accordance with contemporary medical knowledge. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:1)

This responsibility is extended to include the parents' obligation to maintain their children's health and proper nutrition. "A man must honor his wife his sons by dressing and feeding them more than himself, for they are dependent on him and he is dependent on the Almighty, who created the universe." (Rambam, Hilkhot Deot 5-10)

Maimonides also points out that it is wrong for a person takes care of himself and keep fit so as to make himself able to bear children who will then do his work for him and labor on his behalf. Each individual must care of himself in order to be capable of leading a life in the framework of the Bible, for it is impossible to learn knowledge and the wisdom of the Almighty if one is hungry or ill. In caring for one's children, each parent must consider that his/ her child will grow up to be a scholar and must afford him/her all necessities to assure that the child is healthy and safe during the period of development. A parent who acts accordingly is fulfilling the role assigned to him by the Almighty.(Rambam, Hilkhot Deot 3)

Maimonides elaborates by detailing the means to be taken in order to maintain a healthy body. The guidelines set by Maimonides are incorporated into Halakhah along with prescriptions by other rabbinical medical experts. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32a) In order to fulfill the Biblical goal of striving toward knowledge of the Almighty, man must withdraw from whatever causes him harm and must conduct himself in accordance with what is healthy and good for him. The essence of physiological health in Halakhah (based on scientific principles of physiology) is the maintenance of homeostasis, the process by which the internal environment of the individual is maintained relatively constant in the face of changes in the external environment.(Arthur J. Vander, "Physiology and the Environment in Health and Disease ; San Francisco, Freeman 1976) The main influence on man's health related to homeostatis and the adaptative capability of his body are nutrition, physical environment, psychosocial stress, and the immune defenses of the body. (Vander, introduction; Rambam, Hilkhot Deot 1:5) In order to maintain health, man must, according to Halakhah, take care to receive proper nutrition, remove damaging elements from his physical environment, relieve himself of psychosocial stress, and provide for all medical treatment necessary in case of illness. In the case of parents, this responsibility is extended to include any offspring who are dependent on them for healthy development.



What must a parent do in order to afford his child the maximum possibility of healthy development? Above all, Halakhah recognizes the importance of proper nutrition for health and the prevention of disease. On the basis of medical facts, Halakhah attributes physical health to proper digestion. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:2) It is accepted that proper digestion takes place if one does not eat too and the food is easily absorbed. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:3) In order for a person to be nourished according to these specifications, the choice of foods must take into consideration the age and temperament of person involved, and the climate. Young children require food more often than older people, while elderly people require that their food be light for digestion. In the summer portions be smaller than in winter (some doctors suggest serving two-thirds of the winter meal during the summer) (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:4-5)

Children should be served food which agrees with their temperament and metabolism; an active child should be given food that will moderate his nature while a bashful child should receive nourishment intended to induce activity, all in accordance with the environmental conditions and the season.(Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:7; Powers and Presley, "Food Power: Nutrition and Your Child's Behavior; N.Y. St,. Martin's Press 1978 )

Children should not be forced to eat if they are not hungry and they must be taught to chew properly for good digestion (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh) Children should not be overfed for .too much food is like poison. It is of the utmost importance to choose the proper foods for the child's meals, for "most people's ailments occur as a result of eating bad food."(Rambam, Hilkhot Deot 4:9; Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32)

The framework for natural and pure nourishment as the basis for promoting health and preventing disease is provided by the laws of Kashrut, which regulate the Jewish diet, and by the recommendations of the Jewish sages which emphasize the necessary nutrients. Adherence to this framework in the early years of life, when the growing organ systems require the most and best nutrients available, is crucial for the developing child. Improper or deficient nutrition during the critical years of life may result in disease, stunted growth, or mental deficiency, as has been highlighted by recent research findings (Vander, Introduction)

With these facts in mind, it becomes clear that the Biblical principles concerning proper nutrition for health have the interest of the child at stake. According to sages, a person who does not eat the proper nutritious food required for health commits a prohibition rooted in the "Thou shalt not destroy thy body." (Rambam, Hilkhot Deot 8:61); Shabbat 129:1; Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 91) This is reinforced by father's legal obligation to feed his young children and provide for their care. (Kettubot 65a; Takanat Usha, Ketubbot 49b; Shulkhan Arukh , Yoreh Deah 251:4)

As a consequence of this legal philosophy, a parent must feed his children the best available food to provide the nutrients necessary for good health. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 91:3) Care must be taken to maintain proper sanitary conditions and to avoid food which has a bad odor (i.e., is spoiled by bacteria) or liquid which has been exposed. (Ketubbot 65a) Everyone's diet must be chosen according to medical specifications in order to receive the nutrients suitable for one's temperament, the climate, and the season.(Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 33:14) Care should be taken to choose food which is not constipating. If constipation occurs a doctor should be consulted. Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 33:20) Proper nourishment and digestion are the primary means of assuring homeostasis and a balanced metabolism. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:2)



In order to fulfill the requirement of guarding one's body against illness, one must exercise moderately in accordance with the season, time, and body size. It is advisable to exercise by working or walking before a meal to build up an appetite and assure proper digestion. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:6) One should not overdo exercising, nor should one rest too much; both rest and exercise must be carried out with moderation. One should exercise less in hot weather and more in cold weather. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:21) Children should be instructed to rest during the day, especially after meals in order to assure good digestion.

Rigorous exercise and bathing are not advisable until digestion is completed.(Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:21, 24)

Children should sleep for the average time required by their age. Sleep is important for health; while the senses rest, the body digests the nutrients necessary for growth. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:23; Rambam, Hilkhot Deot 4)



One simple precaution to take in warding off illness is to maintain the proper temperature in the home. Overheating in winter may be the cause of cold symptoms and many other ailments. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:26) Children should be kept out of drafts and not overheated. Parents must take care to live in an area where there is unpolluted air, preferably at a high altitude. (Kitzur Shbulkhan Arukh 32:26) Mountain air is especially recommended to cure various illnesses.(Kettubot 103b)

Parents should make sure that their home is free of mold and mildew. The rooms or apartment must be aired frequently and deoderized to provide maximum comfort and health. Daily outings for children are recommended, as discussed in an earlier session.



In normal human development, man must cope with dangers of all kinds. According to Jewish philosophy, the various functions of the soul, such as worry, anxiety, anger, and fear, must be understood for they may cause illness. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:22) It is also man's responsibility to be content with what he has and to attempt to be in good spirits at all times. Children should be guided toward acquiring a cheerful disposition in life. The most effective way to accomplish this is to make the child feel loved and wanted from his/her very first day of life. The high mortality rates found in the foundling homes of the and eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as the psychic and psychosomatic disturbances characteristic of hospitalized children and children separated from their parents during World War 11, point out the importance of loving relationship between parent and child for both phsycial and emotional health. Bowlby's research on the importance of the mother-child interaction (J. Bowlby,"Attachment and Loss", Vol I; New York, Basic Books, 1969) and Gardner's observation that children who were emotionally deprived when raised in institutions , developed hormonal imbalances, such as a decrease in the growth hormone, further attests to the importance of a warm parent-child relationship for healthy child development.

An awareness of this phenomenon is instituted in Biblical philosophy with the warning that in dealing with the child the parent should "repel with the left hand [discipline as necessary) and draw forth with the right hand [show love and warmth for the child as an individual." (Sotah 47; Sanhedrin 107) Moreover, according to Halakhah, the parent must not threaten a child with punishment and execute it later on. The parent should either punish the child immediately or keep still. (An example given of a child who ran away from school. His father threatened to punish him, but as he did not do so immediately, the child was overcome with anxiety and killed himself (as related in an earlier session) In addition, it is forbidden to frighten a child by threatening that a dog or boogie-man will come and eat him up, or the like. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 165:7) In all instances, the parent must deal with the child with understanding and must avoid inducing undue anxiety which may cause mental or physical illness.



Before discussing the references to various childhood diseases in it is important to note that the talmudic medical analysis and treatment for diseases were quite sophisticated for their time; the pragmatic nature of Halakha ensures that modern medical knowledge and techniques override outdated treatments (see Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32a). Numerous childhood diseases are described in Judaic sources. Although the biblical references pertain mostly to the birth process, care of the newborn, and the pathology of neonates, later talmudic sources deal in more detail with pediatrics in general. The talmudic sages advise, among other things, on nursing, nutrition, and various ailments, often discussing both their medical and their legal aspects. The childhood diseases mentioned in the Talmud are: neonatal jaundice, discussed in relation to the execution of the "berit milah" (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 163; (Yoreh Deah 262:3); hemophilia as a disease of the blood transmitted by females to males (also discussed in connection with "berit milah" (Yevamot 64b) and diphtheria as the most dangerous and fatal childhood disease (Berakhot 8 (Rashi) As diphtheria was such a deadly disease, Wednesday was declared weekly fast-day for praying that it would not befall little children. (Taanit 27b) It was believed diphtheria occurred as a punishment for the sin of slander (Shabbat 33a) In order to prevent the disease, talmudic sages recommended (in addition to fulfilling the mitzvot) eating lentils once a month, drinking water after any other beverage, and adding salt to the diet.(Berakhot 40a) If diphtheria does attack, it usually begins at night. The symptoms are vomiting, pain in the throat, and finally, suffocation. (Sotah 35a)
The Talmud also mentions tonsillitis and ways to treat it (Gittin 69b) Intestinal worms were recognized as a childhood ailment (Bava Kamma 82a; Gittin 69b) "Sefer Taamei Haminhagim uMekoreir Hadinim (The Book of Customs and Laws) by Rabbi Sperling (J-m 1957) lists various treatments including the use of garlic and several potions made especially to ward off the worms. Measles was treated by making sure the child's room was properly aired and the temperature moderate. The child was to adhere to a simple diet. Teething was known to cause pain for the baby. In order to soothe the pain, applications of chicken fat to the gums, neck, and throat were recommended. An effective treatment for diarrhea occurring in children was the administering of a solution with carob syrup. While this remedy is employed even in our times, the "Toledot Adam" lists another remedy for diarrhea: rubbing the stomach with a solution of anise and vinegar.

Coughing spells and asthma were relieved by rubbing the chest with unsalted butter mixed with chamomile oil or by inhaling almond oil. The remedy mentioned for whooping cough was to drink a broth of beets and cane sugar or warm milk and to eat sweet foods. Tonsillitis was treated by having the child suck a medication prepared from pyrethrum wood and vegetables, or a mixture of bran, and hops. (Gittin 69a)

Children under the age of one were especially susceptible to the fatal effects of a hornet sting. As a remedy, the sting was treated with palm tree moss ground with water (Kettubot 50a)

Medical practice and knowledge are considered so important in Judaism that some sages declared it to be a legal responsibility for each person to set aside time to learn about medicine and health. (Iggerot Rambam; Rabbi Joseph ben Yehuda Vaknin, Berlin, B.Z. Bacher 1910) Shabbat 82a)

Maimonides notes that every illness must be treated in accordance with the procedures required to restore health. (Rambam, Mishne Nedarim 4:45) Since a doctor must be consulted for physical and mental illness, ((Rambam, Eight Chapters; Bava Batra 116), one is not permitted to live in a town in which there is no doctor (Rambam, Hilkhot Deot, chapter 2)

Halakha mentions special means of safeguarding one's eyesight. Parents should take care not to place a baby's crib near a window or a source of bright light, for this will cause the child to look constantly in that direction and his vision will be damaged. (Sperling, Toldot Adam pg. 591) One should accustom his eyes gradually to a change from darkness to bright light, and vice versa. Reading at twilight and at midday is bad for the eyes. It is bad for the eyesight to live in a dwelling in which the windows face north. (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 32:27)

Afflictions such as blindness, deafness, and epilepsy were believed to be punishments for some transgression as well as the result of negligence of basic sanitary measures.(Deut 28:28; Nedarim 81a; Pesachim 111b; Bava Kamma 98a, Tosefta 7) Although the legal status of those who are blind or deaf, is inferior to that of normal children, Judaism strictly guards their rights as individuals. The statement that it is prohibited to place a block before a blind person includes many rulings for this and other cases. (Leviticus 19:14) The Bible recognizes the importance of special education for afflicted children, for "wisdom opens the mouth of the dumb" (Book of Wisdom 10:21) The Talmud notes that deaf-mutes are capable of being instructed and should not be considered idiots. To support this statement it tells how Rabbi Judah noticed that two dumb boys attending his lectures were moving their heads and lips as if repeating his words. Rabbi Judah prayed for their recovery, and when they were cured it was found that they had indeed absorbed all his teachings during the period of their affliction.(Chagigah 3a)



The treatment of childhood diseases is a legal responsibility mandated in the Bible (as is medical practice in general) (Rambam, Commentary to Nedarim 84:44) The Talmud notes that a child has more chance of surviving disease than an older person.( Shabbat 134)

The general halakhic rule is that no treatment that may cure or relieve an illness may be prohibited, besides idolatry.(Shabbat 67) This is a broad opening for the use of all relevant medical treatments in curing and relieving illness. As the Biblical perspective on treating disease is a pragmatic one, it is in keeping with the advances in medicine. While the Bible mentions disinfection and isolation in treating certain diseases, (Lev. 8:15) the Talmud includes the use of various drugs and even lists categories of pharmaceuticals available in those days. (Gittin 69b) The practice of surgery is a recognized medical treatment in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 29) and there are references to the acceptability of vaccination in treating disease. (Even Haezer 5:14)

The practice of visiting the sick is important for the good deed itself and because it cheers the patient. Rav Acha bar Chanina maintains that caring visitors help the recover (Nedarim 39b)

In time of illness it is beneficial to pray for the recovery of the patient in the synagogue during the reading of the Bible. (Genesis Rabbach 53)

The Talmud declares that repentance has the power of curing illness, based on the passage: " All diseases which 1 brought upon Egypt, 1 will not bring upon you, for 1 am the Lord your healer." That is to say, "If you follow the Bible, 1 will not bring upon you the afflictions; however, if you do not heed the words of the Lord and commit sins, 1 will bring them upon you. Then if you repent 1 will heal you" (Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 92:1. Thus, although Judaism acknowledges the need for scientific knowledge and treatment of disease, it also sees health and illness as originating in man's actions and his choosing either to follow or to violate the commandments. Indeed, the Talmud explains that disobedience to the Almighty causes the death of young and innocent children so that they may plead the cause of their parents before the Lord. In cases of severe or complex illness, a Rabbi should be consulted.



Since the Bible places the value of life above all else (for the Torah was given for the living), it is a general rule that the Sabbath must be desecrated in order to save a life, even of a one day-old infant or a fetus less than forty days old (Tur, Orach Hayim 517; Kettubot 39a; Neubirt, Shemirat Shabbat ke-Hilkhato 36:2) although a Rabbi must be consulted, as this is a complex legal matter.

Indeed, it is even permitted to desecrate the Sabbath to fulfill the needs of a newborn child even if he has the chance of living only for one hour. (Neubirt, 36:12) The sages permitted the desecration of the Sabbath to fulfill the needs of any child up to the age of nine or ten if he/she is weak and requires special treatment.(Responsa Minhat Yitzhak 1:78; Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 134) Such a child is considered to have the same status as a sick person who is not in mortal danger, and the same halakhic regulations apply to his care on the Sabbath. (Rema 176:1; Mishne Berurah 6:328 and 5:343)

When life is endangered, it is a mitzvah for the parent himself or another Jew to desecrate the Sabbath in the attempt to save the child. If a child is ill but not in mortal danger, the parent or another Jew must not desecrate the Sabbath by violating a Biblical prohibition. In this case, a non-Jew is requested to fulfill the child's needs .(Rambam, Hikhot Shabbat chapter 2; Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh 92:1; Mishne Berurah 11:47)
The following guidelines have been stipulated by some authorities. Ifthe doctor has instructed that the child must be given cod-liver oil or vitamins daily, it is permitted to administer this on the Sabbath. (Rema 328:37; Mishne Berurah 120:130) It is also permitted to weigh the child's food or the child him/herself after the meal if this is necessary for medical purposes (Neubirt 37:5). One may treat diaper rash or cradle cap on Sabbath by pouring some oil on the baby's skin and applying it by hand (but not with cotton) (Rema 327:1; Mishne Berurah 4) In the same manner, it is permitted to apply gentian violet to a child's bruise to avoid infection and heal the wound .(Neubirt 37:8) The wound may be washed bandaged to prevent infection. One may apply dermatol to bleeding, but no cream may be applied. It is permitted to remove a splinter from the child's body on Sabbath (Responsa Minhat Yitzhak 79, 4:124)

The child may be given any medication, including eye drops, nose drops, syrups, and tablets, required for his/her health on Sabbath. It is also permitted to crush a tablet and dissolve it in water for the child. (Neubirt 37:9)

If the child is in deep pain from a digestive disturbance or diarrhea, a doctor must be called immediately. (Chazon Ish 59:4) If the child is suffering from an earache or the like, the doctor may light a flashlight to examine him/her (Neubirt 37:14) If the child has difficulty breathing it is permitted to operate a vaporizer to ease his/her condition (although it is better to prepare the instrument before the Sabbath and to use water which has been boiled and placed in the machine before the Sabbath). (Neubirt 37:14)

If the child is afraid of the dark or may be anxiety as a result of being in the dark, a non-Jew may be asked to switch the light on for the child and to switch it off when the child falls asleep. (Rema 176:a, Mishne Berurah 6) As a child is considered to be like who is ill but not in mortal danger, a gentile may cook food for him/her on the Sabbath if necessary for the child's health. In such cases, it is better for the non-Jew to feed the child, for the dish is "Muktseh" (may not be handled on Sabbath) (Rema 328:17; Mishne Berurah 58)

A non-Jew may be asked to carry the child if there is no "eruv" or to drive him to the doctor if necessary. (Rema 328:17) If the child's life is in danger, a Jewish parent or another Jew is permitted to drive him/her to the doctor or hospital or to drive the doctor to the patient's home, or to bring medicine. (Neubirt 40:50) However, the driver must avoid any unnecessary desecration of the Sabbath during the drive. It is a]so permitted for a member of the family or any person trusted by the patient to accompany him to the doctor or hospital in order to prevent unnecessary anxiety for the child.

A child's temperature and blood pressure may be measured on the Sabbath if necessary," (Neubirt 40:70) but instead of smearing the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly, it should be dipped in oil; if no oil is available, it may be dipped in a cream. The thermometer may be washed with alcohol (but one should not dip cotton into the alcohol for this purpose), and the thermometer may be shaken down if one intends to use it again on the Sabbath. The use of a digital thermometer is permitted if the temperature is marked only through a change of color (and the numerals or letters indicating fever are visible beforehand)

If it is necessary to record the child's temperature or weight, this may be done by preparing signs before Sabbath and inserting them in the proper place when necessary.

If the child shows symptoms of a simple ailment, such as a sore throat or hoarseness, he/she may be given any food which may alleviate the discomfort, such as honey, squeezed on a sugar cube, and the like." Medications should be prepared before the Sabbath (if it is necessary to dilute them) (Neubirt 40).

The halakhic regulations concerning the maintenance of health provide the most concrete evidence that the Bible was given for the enhancement of life. The sacred value of human life embodied in the Bible applies to the individual as soon as he/she is born:

"One desecrates the Sasbbath for the sake of a one- day -old infant, but not for the dead body of David, King of Israel. (Bor. Shabbat 151b)

Although the sages explain that weakness was not brought upon man until after the death of Rabbi Gamliel, the responsibility of each Jew to safeguard his/her health is rooted in Biblical law as is the parent's obligation to care for his child so that develop into a healthy adult and a good Jew. Parents must grant each of their children the maximum care for health, for it is possible that the child may grow up to be a scholar. In any case, the obligation to maintain one's health is linked with the goal of Judaism, which is to learn the wisdom of the Almighty. This can only be accomplished if one is healthy in mind spirit.

The causes of disease and childhood ailments are numerous. The Bible recognizes that a child may become ill as a result of unsanitary environmental conditions, especially polluted water," (Chullin 105b) excessive heat, cold, or draft (Bava Metzia 107b), infection from afflicted people, (Bava Metzia 107b), heredity,(Pesachim 49a-b; Yevamot 64b, Even Haezer 11), inability of the body's defenses to ward off disease, (Bava Batra 58b) G-d's punishment for sin (Berakhot 5b) or the evil eye. (Bava Metzia 107b).

Although we do not find any references to most diseases and the treatment of illness in the Bible, the sages recorded many of the diseases prevalent in their time the accepted treatments, which in most cases are valid to this day.

In order to prevent disease and maintain health, the Bible prescribes that each child be given proper sanitary and safe environment, develop in an trusting atmosphere, avoid unnecessary psychosocial stress and receive the best possible medical care promptly (even on the Sabbath) in case of illness.

The act of saving a child's life (even a day-old infant fetus) is considered so essential in Judaism that it is a mitzvah for the parent or any other Jew to desecrate the Sabbath so that a child in mortal danger may have the chance to live and develop as a good Jew. TheHalakhah permitting the desecration of the Sabbath to perform surgery to save a fetus and the postponement of berit milah if the infant shows signs of illness are clear indications of this philosophy, which maintains that it is better to desecrate one Sabbath for the sake of the child so that he may fulfill the mitzvah of Sabbath many times .(Gittin28)

If a child's life is in danger, the parent or another adult Jew must hasten to do whatever is necessary to save his/her life and must not try to postpone any act until after the Sabbath, thus endangering the child further. The Sabbath may be desecrated to save the life of a child even if his life may be prolonged by the action for only a short while. In doubtful cases, the parent must consult a rabbinical authority to determine what is permitted on the Sabbath for a sick child. Excellent guides on the Halakhah concerning medical treatment on the Sabbath appears in "Shemirat Shabbat KeHilkhato (by Y.Y. Neubirt) and "Care of Children on Shabbos and Yom Tov , by Rabbi S. Wagschal).

The maintenance of health occupies a central role in Judaism, for a healthy child can more readily learn the wisdom of the Almighty and fulfill the commandments. From the halakhic standpoint, medical treatment of illness is a mitzvah. The Bible commands us to treat a child who is afflicted, as it is written: "And thou shalt return his body to him." If one sees that a person is is danger, one must attempt to restore his health by helping him physically, financially, or through the means of medical knowledge. (Rambam Commentary on Mishna, Nedarim 4:45)

This concludes our introductory course on "Biblical Perspectives on Child Development". I hope you have enjoyed it and gained insight which will help you in the most important role you have in life as parents, educators and adults responsible for the healthy and successful development of children. Please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you and wish you a pleasant summer.




Share           PRINT   
28 Aug 2005 / 23 Av 5765 0