It is very important that as soon as a Jewish child is born, he or she be enveloped in an atmosphere of holiness. It is known that what a one-day-old baby sees and hears will have an influence on the child even many years later.
Surrounding the child with objects of holiness will help add blessing and success to the life of the child so that the parents will merit to raise the child "to Torah, to chuppah, and to good deeds."
(Hisvaaduyos 5747, Vol. II, p. 37)
... May G-d grant that the bris
(circumcision) take place at the proper and auspicious time — and, as my father-in-law of saintly memory, the Rebbe, would instruct: to perform the bris
[on a day] when the doctor and mohel
are in agreement [that performing the bris
on that day would present no untoward risk to the infant].
(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 19 Shvat, 5721)
The Rebbe's secretaries relate that if a child came down with jaundice, not only with the infection itself but even with the perinatal condition, the Rebbe would emphatically state that they should wait seven complete days after the baby has healed before performing a circumcision.
... In reply to your questions:
- ... The bris should take place when your [twin] sons sheyichyu are entirely healthy; if there is even the slightest doubt in the matter, it can be done at a later date. ...
- Regarding your question whether to delay the bris until both brissim can be done together: I don't understand the reasoning behind this; each one of them should have his bris when he is entirely healthy, even if both will not have the bris on the same day.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 143)
... You write that since the individual having the bris
was over the age of thirteen, he was given anesthesia — by which you mean general anesthesia:
You should inquire of a practicing Rav regarding this matter, since it may be quite possible to give [a non-infant having a bris] a local anesthetic in a nearby area (done generally in the back and spine).
This only blocks the feeling of pain for a certain amount of time, but doesn't cause the person to be put to sleep. The person is then totally conscious, which is to say that he is obligated in all mitzvos, [and thus consciously performs the mitzvah of circumcision].
The difference between these two actions, [i.e., the difference between providing a general or a local anesthetic,] is readily understandable.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 343)
In reply to your letter in which you ask my opinion about the injections, [i.e., vaccinations,] that are commonly given to young children:
It is with regard to matters such as these that the axiom "Do not set yourself apart from the community" applies. You should act according to that which is done by [the parents of] the majority of children who are in your children's classes. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 137)
In reply to your letter from the 11th of Sivan in which you write about visiting Eretz Yisrael
together with your children sheyichyu
I am somewhat surprised by this, since I believe that the opinion of doctors is that until an infant becomes one year old, the child should not be taken outside the country, to a place where the air, water, etc. is very different.
[This is] particularly so since the city in which you presently find yourself — according to what I have heard — has a very temperate and pleasant climate without major changes from week to week, or even from season to season. This is not always the case in ..., particularly during the fall and winter. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 195)
... You write that your son sleeps very lightly, waking up almost nightly, etc.:
It is quite likely that your son is lacking a nutritional ingredient in his diet; when this will be rectified, his nerves will strengthen and his sleep will improve as well.
However, in addition to the above, it is also important to check the mezuzah in his room [to verify its kashrus,] and to be scrupulous about the kashrus of the food and drink provided him.
All the above will assist in bringing about a steady improvement in your child's situation. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 245)
In reply to your letter of the 20th of Sivan in which you write about the health situation of your son ... shlita
, and the opinions of the doctors:
It would seem from the tone of your letter — although you do not state this explicitly — that all the doctors are in agreement that no thought is even being given now to serious forms of treatment (such as surgery, G-d forbid, or the like — not even exploratory surgery), which is entirely understandable given the tender age of your son sheyichye.
Since there is presently no course of treatment to follow and in practical terms your question only relates to a future date, your present form of conduct according to our Torah, the Torah of Life, should be that you are firm in your bitachon in G-d, "Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders," that the situation will surely consistently improve.
Nevertheless, I believe it would be advisable to bring to the doctors' attention the possibility that the cause [of your son's breathing difficulties] is that the air passage of one of your son's bronchial tubes is narrower than usual.
If this is the case, then there are solutions and remedies using mechanical means that can cause no harm and only be beneficial — making breathing motions that are slightly stronger and more quickly paced at the location of the neck muscles; for all organs, [and the lungs among them,] become stronger and better developed when they are trained to properly function.
The same may be true in this instance as well. And as I stressed above — "slightly more" [stronger and quickly paced breathing motions].
How exactly this should be done and whether it should be done manually or by machine is up to the doctor to decide — perhaps advice should be sought from physical therapists.
It would be proper for you to have your tefillin checked if they have not been checked within the past twelve months, and your wife tichye should observe the good Jewish custom of fine Jewish women, the custom of giving tzedakah prior to lighting candles erev Shabbos and erev Yom Tov.
It would also be appropriate to ascertain whether your shidduch with each other did not wound the pride of any Jewish young man or woman to the extent that it necessitates — according to Jewish law — asking their forgiveness.
Since everything is providential, I have the obligation (and zechus) to encourage you about the necessity of establishing set study periods for the study of the inner aspect of Torah, which in our generation has been revealed in Toras HaChassidus. Establish a daily study session in the above, with supplemental study on Shabbos, a day that is holy to G-d. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 267)
... Regarding that which you write about your daughter — to the extent that I could ascertain from your letter:
During the past few years, many new kinds of treatment have been developed for such matters, such as pills that hasten the development, etc.
I believe that in Switzerland there are doctors who are great specialists in this area. It would be worthwhile for you to find out more details about this, and act in accordance with the information you receive. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 400)
... With regard to the health situation of your daughter tichye
and her development — which is not satisfactory:
You surely know that during the past few years many new kinds of treatment have been developed for such matters. It would therefore be worthwhile for you to consult a specialist in this area — particularly regarding the new methods of treatment and whether they are appropriate in the present situation.
May G-d will it that you receive the best possible advice for your daughter in an overtly revealed manner of goodness. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 36)
... One should be exceedingly careful about utilizing radiation therapy and particularly for children, especially very young children. If there is a doctor who is opposed to this form of therapy, then you should not use it.
May the Healer of all flesh heal her in an openly good and revealed manner. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 31)
In reply to your letter with the attachment — the opinion of the doctor regarding your son shlita
— which is herewith being returned:
Continue with the treatment that was suggested to you.
It may be worthwhile to bring to the doctor's attention that according to his analysis of why the child is despondent, it might prove very effective to give the child an opportunity to be of assistance to those who are weaker than he.
It would also be effective for him to be provided the opportunity of becoming a group leader, as in leading a Mesibos Shabbos group and the like. All this would enhance his self-confidence, etc.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 183)
... With regard to nursing your child:
This is a very good idea. So much so, that in the last few years, even American doctors have begun to speak and print articles about how beneficial nursing is for both mother and child. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 165)
You write that the medicines you are taking are having an [untoward] effect on your child sheyichye
, since you are nursing him:
I am somewhat astonished by this, for in circumstances where the mother must take medication, the doctors see to it that the child receive his nourishment through bottled milk and the like.
Possibly, the reason you are continuing to nurse is that you are having difficulties obtaining proper kosher milk where you live. In any event, you should bring this matter to the doctor's attention. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 239)
... You write about one of your students who is extremely short:
During the last few years, many new courses of treatment have been discovered for such cases, although understandably, not all are similar in their manner of treatment and degree of success.
... In any event, it would be worthwhile for her parents sheyichyu to ask the doctor in charge of her care what new courses of treatment have been discovered lately that may be of assistance to their daughter.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 42)
... You write about the [colds a child of yours is catching, which you think may be because of his] tonsils:
Generally speaking, even those who do catch colds because of their tonsils do so only during fall and winter, but not in the [spring and] summer. Therefore, it would seem that there is no reason to necessarily decide about this matter now.
Consult again with your doctor, and if he also thinks so, [i.e., that it is necessary to perform a tonsillectomy,] then there is room to write me again about this question only after a number of months from now.
In the interim, may each and every one of you, and all of you together, have a healthy summer. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 27)
In reply to your letter in which you ask whether to remove the tonsils of your daughter ... tichye
, since there are doctors who are advising you to do so:
It would seem from your letter that this only concerns her appetite, [i.e., this is the sole reason for the doctors' opinion that the tonsils be removed].
If this is indeed the case, then there is no haste to have this done; surely not at the end of the hot summer months. Consult again with medical experts at the beginning of the year 5715, following the holidays.
... You write that your son sheyichye
is not yet entirely free from his problem, etc., [i.e., his bedwetting,] although the situation is better than [it has been] in the past:
Surely the doctor explained to you that the cause of much of this is the state of his nerves; when his nerves will develop and strengthen and he will gain additional self-confidence, then the situation will become better as well.
However, in order to hasten his improvement and completely resolve the matter, there are many remedies that doctors offer such as eating less, and most surely drinking less, before going to sleep, and so on.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 21)
... Regarding that which you write about your son, that you believe you can improve his health by sending him to a school where the level of yiras Shomayim
is poorer but the air [in that location] is better, and in time you will return him to the school where he is currently studying:
I don't care for the idea — [should you carry through with your plan, then] your removing him [from a good school] would be a certainty; whether you will enroll him there again and whether he will be able to make up that which he lost is a question [that presently cannot be answered,] and a very large question at that.
We know the explanation offered in sefarim in general and in chassidic sefarim in particular on the verse, "The fear of G-d leads to life" — that being G-d-fearing leads to improved health. Therefore, even if the air is better in the other location, the additional measure of yiras Shomayim and consequent good health that your son will gain in his present school will be greater than the good health he would gain in the new school.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 252)
In reply to your letter of the 18th of Kislev in which you describe the health of your children sheyichyu
, and you conclude with a question regarding whether the children should receive a type of food whose kashrus
is somewhat in doubt, in order that this food enhance their appetites:
Scrupulous observance of kashrus (as explained in many places) is important not only for the proper observance of the kashrus commandment, but also because each and every morsel of food that a person eats is transformed into his flesh and blood, thereby binding the soul and the body.
The kashrus and refinement of foods have an effect on the character and moral fiber of the person who eats them. Thus, every enhancement in the degree of a food's kashrus, refinement and purity, must also be recognized as an added enhancement to the quality, caliber and refinement of the individual's character and moral fiber.
If this is so regarding adults, how much more so with regard to children whose characters are in the process of being formed. The direction one takes in their formative process is thus of utmost importance.
In light of the above, my opinion [and reply to your question] is obvious:
Since we are not dealing with a life-threatening situation — G-d forbid — and it is only a matter of increasing your children's appetites and strengthening them, you should not diminish the level of kashrus of their foods.
Surely other means and methods can be found to strengthen their appetites and make them healthier — and not to the detriment of proper observance of kashrus.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 109)
This is to acknowledge your letter of January 3rd; in accordance with your request, I will mention your son in prayer.
Regarding the problem of getting your son to seek the advice of a doctor:
It is quite often the case that teenagers respond less to the influence of their parents than to the influence of their friends.
I believe that you will be able to find many suitable friends who will be able to speak to him [and convince him to seek a doctor's advice]. It would be better that your son not know that his friends were asked to convince him.
I wish to add that the unwillingness to seek the advice of a doctor or to follow his instructions is quite a common occurrence; generally doctors know how to deal with such a situation.
One of the methods [to overcome the reluctance to take medication] is to prescribe a colorless and tasteless medicine that can be dissolved in milk or juice, so that [the young person] will not suspect [that he is taking a medication].
Since all blessings emanate from G-d, it is good to remember the following — a matter that at times people are inattentive to:
All members of the Jewish family are considered one entity and one body; that which is beneficial to one part [of this body] is beneficial to the whole.
Consequently, any and all additional efforts in increasing matters of goodness and holiness, Torah and mitzvos — particularly on the part of the parents — broadens the channels to receiving G-d's blessings for the entire family and particularly to the individual who is in the most need of these blessings. ...
(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 21 Teves, 5740)
- (Back to text) Thus the custom among so many of Anash to place a picture of the Rebbe in the infant's crib.
- (Back to text) The following paragraph, as well as the next footnote, is from the book Mind Over Matter, which is a translation of the Hebrew book "Kulam b'Chochmah Asisa." The book features teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on science, technology and medicine, and was compiled by Rabbi Joseph Ginsburg and Professor Herman Branover. It was edited and translated by Dr. Arnie Gotfryd, Ph.D.
- (Back to text) For detailed rulings, the Rebbe would refer questioners to a halachic authority. The Rav of the Rebbe's neighborhood, Rabbi Zalman Shimon Dvorkin, would rule (as heard by the expert mohel, Rabbi Moshe Klein): Up to a bilirubin count of 10, one can perform the circumcision at the proper time. From 10 to 15, one should wait until it drops below 10, and then immediately perform the circumcision. (However, since it is already not being done at the proper time, one can wait a little bit longer for it to go down some more.) If it is higher than 15, the baby is considered to be "ill throughout his entire body." One should therefore wait until it drops below 10, and then wait another complete seven days. (See Kfar Chabad, issue #828, p. 95.)
- (Back to text) The letter is dated the sixth of Iyar, 5716, which in that year was mid-April.
- (Back to text) The Rebbe's letter is from the end of Menachem Av, 5714.
- (Back to text) I.e., religiosity and G-d-fearingness.
- (Back to text) Mishlei 19:23.