Sorry, Doc!| December 7, 2021
One who truly recognizes that everything emanates from Hashem won’t blame others
“And Yosef … called, ‘Take out all the men from before me!’ And not one man stood with him when he
revealed himself….” (Bereishis 45:1)
Why does the Torah repeat that no man was in the room? If Yosef, the viceroy, commanded everyone to leave, obviously no one was there!
Rav Shmuel Brazil explains that when tragedy strikes, human nature seeks excuses or scapegoats to blame, to avoid grappling with guilt. However, this approach displays a lack of proper emunah and bitachon. One who truly recognizes that everything emanates from Hashem won’t blame others (Rabbi Ozer Alport, Parsha Potpourri).
Way back when I was a kid, going to the doctor meant a cheery greeting and a cherry lollipop after every well visit. He reminded me of a football quarterback, our pediatrician, but his gentleness belied his build. I thought all doctors were like him.
Unfortunately, I’ve since run into a few physicians since who seem to think their degree granted them divinity. You know the type, who blame the patient, the system, even global warming for their own deficiencies, but luckily they’re rare. And I recently had an experience that blew the proportions of good docs versus bad way over the top.
In Yosef’s case, it would’ve been easy for him to partially attribute his slavery and eventual imprisonment in Mitzrayim to unexpected circumstances. His father had instructed him to travel to Shechem to check on his brothers, but when he arrived, they weren’t there. At that point, Yosef could’ve safely returned home and told Yaakov that he couldn’t locate his brothers. Instead, the Torah recounts (37:15) that Yosef met a “man” in Shechem, who informed him that his brothers had gone to Dosan. Rashi explains that this wasn’t an ordinary man, but the angel Gavriel, who was sent by Hashem to ensure that Yosef would end up in Mitzrayim.
My son needed his tonsils out. Not supposed to be a big deal. “Chick chock,” the nurse said briskly when we arrived in the outpatient clinic, “and all the ice cream you can eat.” Hey, what kid wouldn’t want that deal? In a matter of minutes, all his strep infections and snoring will be behind us and we’ll go home and break out the Ben and Jerry’s (or not, depending on your political preferences).
But for some reason, my son had a wacky reaction to the mild anesthesia given, and as soon as he woke up, he began vomiting nonstop. The first half hour, the nurses were sympathetic and reassuring. After another hour, they called Hatzalah. We ended up in the pediatric ER needing fluids for three days, while my poor baby kept violently vomiting until all the effects of the anesthesia were completely out of his system. (Please, Hashem, don’t let him ever need to go under for anything ever again!)
When Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, it would’ve been natural for him to place part of the blame for his ordeal on this “man” who led him to his brothers. However, on Yosef’s lofty spiritual level, he accepted that everything that transpired was part of Hashem’s Master Plan, and didn’t try to pin responsibility on anyone. This is what the Torah is emphasizing when the pasuk says, “no ‘man’ was in the room.”
We all went home eventually, healthy and safe, minus tonsils. That should’ve been it — except for one major player in the game: Dr. Gusttman. A South African by birth, he’s a soft-spoken, not-yet religious Jew, with the most incredible bedside manner. I’ve always appreciated his gentle approach with my kids, but never did I value him more than those wacky few days. Because he didn’t just shrug and say, Whoops, sorry. Say hi to the ER from me.
No, he accompanied us to the ER. Stayed with us until the IV was set up. Came back to visit the next day with some little toys for my son to play with. And throughout the entire ordeal, he kept apologizing. “I feel terrible. I’ve never seen such a reaction before.” Taking my son’s hand in his, he repeated, “I’m so sorry to be the cause of your suffering.”
I was blown away by his devotion and his humility. I hope they didn’t break the mold that made him in medical school. And it made me realize that in any area, this mold is the making of a true mensch.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 771)
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