By Rabbi Natan Levy, April 15, 2010
I was turned away from the hospital the other day on a visit to one of my congregants. Winter-virus had contaminated the ward and non-essential visitors were asked to leave. Sickness can be lonely. Before modernity, illness had purpose. It could cleanse one from sin, sign-post a fault in the soul, lead to a higher spiritual plane. The Talmud relates that when Rabbi Yochanan enters to heal his student, Rabbi Hiyya, he begins with the question: "Are your afflictions beloved to you?" (Berachot 5b).