Seven Levels of Teshuva: Avraham Part Two
There is a verse in Exodus1 that says, “Kol hamachala asher samti b”Mitzrayim lo asim alecha ki ani Hashem Rofiecha,” “All the illnesses and diseases which I brought onto the Egyptians, I will not place on you.
Because I am God your Healer.” Rashi is bothered by the mention of healer. Why would we need a healer if the diseases will not be brought upon us? A healer is necessary for someone who is ill. The verse already said that we will not become ill. Why does God refer to Himself as healer? Rashi answers that when the Torah speaks of God the healer it does not mean that He will heal us from illnesses but that He provides us with the necessary tools to prevent ourselves from becoming ill. “Umelamedicha Torah umitzvot,” “I teach you Torah and Mitzvot in order to save you from the diseases that I brought against the Egyptians.” This is similar to a physician instructing a patient to exercise and to stay away from certain foods in order to prevent himself from becoming ill. The Torah and Mitzvot are the best way to protect ourselves from becoming ill. Rabbeinu Yonah says in his “Gates of Repentance2” that the first level of Teshuva is to stop destructive actions, realize that what you did was wrong and commit to not acting that way anymore. “How can you not stop doing something that is destructive to you?3” If we apply Rashi’s explanation of Healer to this we realize that such a commitment is a process of healing. When I do his step of Teshuva I am preventing myself from becoming ill.
The Vilna Gaon says in his commentary on Proverbs4, “Refus tehay lisharecha,” “The Torah will be healing for you,” that this refers specifically to Teshuva. Teshuva is healing because it turns you away from evil. One of the first things that a doctor should do for you are to instruct you to abstain from those things that are detrimental to your health.
Commit to stop doing things that are destructive.
Learn to use Torah and Mitzvot as instruments of healing. If you find yourself stressed out become more stringent with the laws of Shabbat.
2 First Gate, Letter 4
3 ibid. #24 3:8