Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Healer's Guilty Conscience

Question of the Week:

I work in the line of healing and unfortunately a patient of mine just passed away. I feel as though it was my fault, because though I did all I could, I didn't save her. This is the first time I have experienced this, and was wondering, does Judaism have any insight on dealing with the guilt of losing a patient?




There is a paradox at the heart of all caring professions. This paradox applies to all those who deal with people's real life problems, such as rabbis, doctors, therapists and manicurists.


On the one hand, to help someone you have to actually care for them. It is not possible to truly understand someone's problem if you don't attempt to connect with them, enter their world and see things from their perspective. This means not being clinical and cold, but getting somewhat emotionally involved with the person you are helping.


But at the same time, you can't help someone if you are too involved with them. There is a certain detachment necessary to be able to see the situation clearly. Only by staying removed from the person can you maintain perspective and be able to help.


So there's the paradox. I can't help you if I don't connect with you, and I can't help you unless I am detached.


The skill of true caring is the skill of switching between these two states. You listen to the problem with empathy and sincere feeling. You then diagnose and advise with total objectivity and clarity of mind. When listening you enter their shoes, when responding you go back to your own shoes. You first have to identify with the problem, but then you must dissociate from it to help find the solution.


This can be exhausting. But it is vital, not only for the patient, but also for you. You can't survive emotionally if you personally take on board every problem of every person you meet. You need to be able to sleep at night, be there for your own family, and function as a normal person. You can't do this while bearing the burden of the world on your shoulders. You need to learn to step back.


Time and experience will teach you this skill. You just had your first lesson.


You did all you could to help this patient. The patient died. This is a tragedy, and you are right to feel it. But you are not a part of the tragedy. You were part of making her life more comfortable. In the end, you are no more than an emissary of G-d, sent to bring healing wherever you can. Life and death are not in your hands. All you can do is try to bring hope and meaning to the lives of those around you.


He time to leave this world had come. She was blessed to have you there to support her for her onward journey.


Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss


To subscribe email

HIGH HOLYDAYS AT NEFESH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We are fortunate to be able to use Hakoah once again for our High Holyday services.
If you are a member you will receive a renewal letter which must be returned by August 18th.
If you are not a member and would like to become one, email
Members are guaranteed a seat this year and in future years. We will be selling any remaining seats after August 18th.
Bina Classes -  

Morals in the Marketplace  - Lunch in the City

with Rabbi Moss 

A new series exploring sticky situations in the business world. A new dilemma each week. Thursdays 1:00pm - 2:00pm at Arnold Bloch Leibler, Level 24, Chifley Tower, Sydney CBD, lunch included, all welcome


The Wisdom of Nature - new Kabbalah series with Rabbi Moss

Spiritual lessons for life from the world around us

Tuesdays 8:15 - 9:30pm, July 27 - Aug 24 at Nefesh, 54 Roscoe St


Meaningful Motherhood

Discussion for mums and babies with Nechama Dina Moss and Shterny Dadon

Mondays 10am - 11am At Nefesh



Character Development: R.E.L.A.T.E for Women with Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Respect, Empower, Love, Ask, Talk, Enjoy - a simple but powerful formula for all successful relationships

Thursdays 9:20 - 10:15am

22 July - 26 Aug 45 Bellevue Rd


and much more at


NEFESH SERVICES - 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach



Mincha 4:50pm followed by shiur in Likkutei Torah
6:30pm - 7:15pm Shabbos Service followed by Kiddush sponsored by Cassandra Lucas in honour of her birthday.


Shabbos day

9am Class on Weekly Parsha
10am -12:30pm Morning Service with kids program followed by Kiddush sponsored by Karine Weiss honouring the Yarzeit of her grandmother, Bella bat Fishel Halevi & Basha.

Mincha 4:55pm folllowed by Sholosh Seudos sponsored by Larnce Gold in honour of the Yarzeit of his grandfather Bernie Lazarus  



8am Shachris followed by breakfast



7am Shachris


Safe Unsubscribe
This email was sent to by
nefesh office | 45 bellevue rd | bellevue hill | NSW | 2023 | Australia

No comments:

Post a Comment