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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Refoeinu Hashem Ve'Nerofeh

In a recent journal article, Dr. Jerome Groopman of Harvard Medical School described treating an Orthodox Jewish patient who believed her breast cancer was a punishment from God for an adulterous affair. Groopman, drawing on his experience with the Jewish faith, engaged the woman in spiritual discussion but was unable to persuade her to accept chemotherapy.

"I had stepped out of the foundation of fact and knowledge into a quagmire of emotion and imagination," Groopman writes. "I was in over my head." Groopman honored his promise not to discuss the patient's religious beliefs with others. The woman eventually sought treatment, but too late. She died at 34.

Sad if true which I suspect it could be. Of course it would have been little point for him as a borderline secular jew with some 'experience with the jewish faith' to try and talk her out of it, especially via 'spirtual discussion'. The right Rabbi could have talked her out of this false belief, the wrong Rabbi might have only reinforced it. She was clearly stricken with guilt over what she had done and with her limited understanding and the need to deal with her suffering, had only one way to explain it. Hashem was punishing her for something she did wrong.

Not only did Groopman not honor his promise, he instead discussed her in detail, even it appears giving her actual name and husband's name, and not only in a medical journal article but in a book intended for mainstream audiences. I am not linking to it since I consider it despicable. Lawyers have attorney-client privilege, medical records among doctors are to remain sealed and even if no such principles applied, to humiliate the dead is simply disgusting. Will Groopman's future patients know that whatever confidences they reveal to him while they are sick and perhaps dying will become fodder for his next novel\book on his medical greatness

She explained that XXXXXXXXXXX, her husband, was from the same German-Jewish community in Washington Heights and had been chosen for her by her parents. He was twenty-one at the time, and she was nineteen. They had met twice before the wedding, and she knew on each occasion that she could not love him.
Not only that his description sounds rather dubious, this sounds a good deal more like a Chassidic marriage than one practiced by German Jews in Washington Heights especially for a woman who had gotten married in 1965 and wore "blouses with sleeves reaching her wrists', one would imagine that Groopman who seems to descend to weak attempts at sensationalistic writing is ripping off Potok and Roth, more likely than describing an actual event.

In either case a despicable fellow, in the same realm as the manhattan doctor with the phony cancer cure who moved Beattle George Harrison's hands while he was dying to autograph a guitar for him and about as useful for providing 'spirtual counselling' as a dog can conduct an orchestra of cats.

It is Hashem who heals but he needs the right messenger for it and Groopman simply wasn't it.

1 comment:

  1. Who's to say she wasn't right? No one can say either way.

    I think that the proper counsel would have been that she certainly could be right, she should do t'shuva and seek forgiveness from Hashem, certainly as remorseful as she is, Hashem understands the mental and emotional strain she was under and forgives her, loves her and- again with the Isaiah- wishes not for her demise, but that she return in purity.

    But then again, I'm just an amateur.

    Oh, yeah, in what manner did the doctor disclose this story? Was it like a book deal?



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