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A thought for match day 5776

A thought for match day 5776

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Celebrate together! Tonight, 5:30-6:30pm, 1935 5E

Dear friends,

Tamar and I wait eagerly, looking forward to hearing the great news of your anticipated match, and we hope that you all match in a program that will truly bring out the best in you.

Watching the effort you invest and the sacrifices you make to be able to dedicate your life to helping others is always inspiring, but today with the match upon us, it really stands out.

In a special reading that we will read in the synagogue tomorrow, we are told of how the stragglers of the Jewish Nation were ambushed and attacked. In explaining the wording used, the talmud derives that the attack happened because the nation had weakened their hands from the study of Torah.

At first glance this statement seems somewhat vengeful. Why connect an ambush to a (seemingly unrelated) character weakness? Reading carefully we are also struck by the way this character flaw is described. The Torah is studied with the head not with the hands, so why, when describing a weakness in study, would it be described as “weakening of the hands”?

Perhaps we could understand this story, and also can get some inspiration regarding the medical pursuit, if we first ask the opposite question:

Why would the Jews have assumed any form of protection or respect from the neighboring nations? A newborn, fledgling nation just rubbing its wrist and ankles from its shackles, why wouldn't they expect to be pounced on by any neighboring bully? True, they were the bearers of the Torah - the purpose, message and will of the creator - but since when does privilege or academia keep a bully at bay?

And this is the message of this story, and what makes you guys stand out. The Torah which begets respect is not measured by the information accumulated in the brain, rather, you can see it in the hands. When is a student truly a scholar of the Torah? When the hands show it through kindness and action. This is why when the Jews had “weakened their hands” of the study of Torah, and all that remained was personal, intellectual pursuit, along came the bullies.

What is the difference between a scientist and a doctor? You can become a scientist by an internal accumulation of knowledge, but a doctor is one whose accumulated knowledge is seen in help they give others.

Today you put your lifetime of academic achievement forward, not by an academic exam, but by stepping up and humbly committing to help others, wherever it is that you are asked to do so. With G‑ds help this match will set you on a path that will eventually bring you success and acclaim for your achievements, but wherever you are, please never forget this important lesson: who you are as a doctor is not a function of what you know, but rather, who you are willing to help.

Warmly,

Zalman and Tamar

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