Why do we pray to be healed? Shouldn’t we just go to a doctor for the cure? Is prayer in lieu of seeking treatment? Or conversely, does going to a doctor demonstrate that we don’t really believe G-d can heal us?
The Torah tells us that when one person injures another, the assailant must pay his victim’s medical expenses. The Sages derive from this law that it must, therefore, be permissible to go to a doctor for treatment.
“He shall cause him to be thoroughly healed” (Shemot 21:19) – from here we learn that the Torah has given doctors the license to heal.
What is so novel about being allowed to go to a doctor? Shouldn’t such “permission” be obvious? Not exactly. One might think that since we believe in an all-powerful G-d Who is in control of everything, perhaps we should not interfere with His plan when someone gets hurt or falls sick. The Torah comes to teach us that seeking treatment does not interfere with G-d’s plan.
Rashi explains, “We do not fault the doctor by claiming he had no right to interfere with G-d’s plan that the person was injured.”
The Chofetz Chaim writes [Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chaim 230:6], “In all forms of treatment, one should not consider that any particular treatment will heal him but rather that G-d will. Therefore, by way of prayer one puts his trust in G-d and requests that the treatment heal him.”
(See further the beracha of Refuainu in the Olami Morasha Syllabus Amidah Companion).
Consequently, we see from the Chofetz Chaim the critical role of tefillah in healing. To that end,
Rabbi Moshe Goldberger has published a new Kuntres highlighting the importance of prayer in maintaining and restoring health.