[Avodah] depression

Eli Turkel via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Sat Aug 8 12:02:52 PDT 2015

Enclosed is a summary of the last shiur of R Zilberstein to the doctors. I
am giving a shiur on this in my shul this coming shabbat. Since I feel it
is controversial I am looking for input from the list.

Question from a psychiatrist - A patient has 3 kids and has mild depression
since the last birth. She wont take chemical drugs and instead uses one
based on plants which is good for mild depression.
It had some side effects and so the patient stopped that also. The dictor
suggested various anti-depression drugs and other help which the patient
Contacting a social worker it turns out the woman runs a "nursery'
(mishpachton) from 8am to 4pm. The social worker says she manages only with
a great effort; her husband comes home from work at 1pm and the mother
helps. The woman refuses to open a file in the social ministry because of
this nursery which they may close down. The social worker pointed out that
if something happens the state will prosecute the psychiatrist.

Question: On one side there might be a danger to the kids in the nursery
and the psychiatrist might lose her license
OTOH this is a major income for the young family. She has successfully run
the nursery for several months without any complaint with the help of the
husband and mother. If this is all explained to the ministry it most likely
won't help and they will closer her down

Answer: The job of a bet din is to watch out for the welfare of the
community. Hence, according to Torah law the doctor must go the rabbi of
the city or neighborhood to hear their opinion,

R Zilberstein notes that in Bnei Brak there is an agreement with the
authorities that the local bet din deals with such problems and calls in
the local authority only if they feel this is necessary. Such an
arrangement should be set up in every town that the local bet din makes the
see YD 336:1 that ba doctor needs the permission of the bet din to
practice, Therefore one needs the permission of the local secular
authorities to rely on the judgement of the local rabbi. It is well known
that the "mara de-atra" have the ability to treat broken and depressed

In England there was a baby born with Down's syndrone whose Jewish parents
disappeared. The local board of health turned to Rav Yoseph Dinner Zt'L
what to do, Rav Dunner , who was the 65, (after checking with his wife)
said they would adopt the baby since at that time there was no Jewish
institution capable of handing this baby. The local board of health
accepted this solution. The couple cared for the child until they reached
the age of 80. At that point they transfered the child to an instituion in
Afula, Each year R Dunner would come to Israel to bake matzot and then
visit the child in Afula. The doctors in Britain said the best social
workers are the Jewish leaders.

In the beit midrash of R. Pam there was born a child with Down's syndrone.
R Pam always tried to cheep up the boy. One year the boy complained that on
simchat Torah they used all the sifrei Torah except for his paper one.
After Musaf R Pam went to the Bimah and announced to everyone that now they
were reading from the sefer Torah of this boy. This was the happiest moment
for the boy and the angles surrounding "kise hakavod"

Conclusion: The psychiatrist should explain to the local rabbi the
situation in the nursery. The rabbi should come to some agreement with the
local secular authotities to rely on his judgement

Eli Turkel
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