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A Hospital is Not a “House of the Sick”


As told by Yosef Binyomin Williger


A short while after the Sanz-Klausenberg Rebbe, of saintly memory, established the Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Israel, he requested that I meet with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, for counsel regarding several complex issues relating to Jewish law and the daily operation of the hospital.

I called the Rebbe's secretariat and told them that the Klausenberg Rebbe has charged me with asking the Rebbe several questions. I was given a time for an audience; I was to meet with the Rebbe the following day.

I immediately called the Klausenberg Rebbe and told him that I had an appointment for a private audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. "There's probably a long waiting period," the holy man told me.

I told him that the appointment was actually set for tomorrow. "You are obviously regarded highly by the Lubavitchers if they gave you an appointment so quickly!" the Klausenberg Rebbe humbly responded.

"Of course I am regarded highly when I come as your emissary..." I responded.

Joining me for the audience was the Klausenberg Rebbe's son-in-law, Rabbi Shlomo Goldman; the chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau; and another community activist. The Rebbe responded to all our questions and inquired as to how the hospital was funded. The Rebbe suggested that the hospital be called the Sanz Hospital instead of what it was called at the time.

(Today, in fact, the hospital is called the Sanz Medical Center).

Then the Rebbe asked, "Why is it called a Beit Cholim (the modern Hebrew term for hospital, which literally means 'House of the Sick')? Better it should be called a 'House of Healing.'"

The Rebbe continued, "I would ask you to either call it a 'House of Healing' or a 'Center for Healing'; for one goes to the hospital not to get sick, but rather to heal."

Eventually it was called Merkaz Refui, a "Healing Center."

At the end of the audience, the Rebbe gave a check for the hospital. "Binyomin," he told me, "make sure this check is deposited. If you want to make a copy for publicity purposes, fine, but deposit it into the bank."

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