Hospitals — the Great Equalizers

19 Jun

Thought I’d share a recent essay from the Jewish World Review, written by Rabbi Berel Wein.  Food for thought.   The entire essay can be found at

Excerpts:  [Bolding is mine, and material in brackets [] is mine]

A hospital is the great equalizer in our society. It is the place where the barriers of political belief, religious observance, faiths, and societies disappear.  .   .   .

.   .   .  the hospital, with its reminder of our mortality and our ultimate powerlessness, is the great equalizer. Everyone there is pretty much in the same boat — human, frightened, hopeful and tolerant of the human condition. If only this feeling and emotion would not evaporate as it does when leaving the hospital. Outside people are already honking their horns, weaving in and out of traffic in order to arrive a nanosecond earlier at the next light, and in sadness I realize that life in our society has returned to “normal.”

The Talmud sees illness as not necessarily a completely negative state. It causes contemplation and self-examination — not only of the person who is afflicted but also for all those who are connected with that person, who come to visit and who call to inquire regarding the person’s condition.

The human being needs to be brought up short every so often in order to be reminded how fragile and temporary life is. We pray .   .   .  and we commit ourselves to the service of the Divine and man .   .   .   . We are bidden to try and raise ourselves to this level of behavior — to achieve the [effect of the] great equalizer without having to resort to hospital visits.  .   .   .   .  [T]he atmosphere between people in the hospital is different, better, more humane than on our roads, streets, radio waves and in our political discussions.

In a perverse way, I have found that to be comforting, creating a sense of optimism as to what can and hopefully what will yet be.   .   .   .  

 Somehow, this lesson of the great equalizer [the lesson of fellowship, compassion, and common experience, regardless of cultural or religious background] has to be drummed into general human life. Without its presence, we are doomed to more metal detectors and unfortunately many more hospital patients as well. At the very least, we should internalize this lesson within ourselves and hope to inspire other human beings to like thoughts and similar behavior.   .   .   .


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