The Mitzvah of Medicine

The Health Sciences Library has a vast array of materials on Jewish history, culture, and medicine. Rabbi Washofsky points out that “the practice of medicine is a mitvah, a fundamental religious obligation incumbent upon the Jewish people.”1

Arnold Wolf discusses five principles of Judaism on Medicine. He explains why Judaism doesn’t deal with the problem of death, like most religions, but with the art of healing. The first principle is the primacy of life, nothing is more important than life. The second is harmony, the interpenetration of mind and body. The third principle is that in Judaism, disease and death are anomalous. The fourth is that Judaism is a life system. The last principle is demystification or demythologization. “The emphasis here is therefore the Mitzvah, the task, the duty of personal health.”2

Our newest acquisitions include:

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Encyclopedia of Jewish medical ethics : a compilation of Jewish medical law on all topics of medical interest … / compiled and written by Avraham Steinberg ; translated by Fred Rosner.


“Fifteen years in the making, this all-encompassing, meticulously researched work is a comprehensive encyclopedic, systematic, orderly and concise work. Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics includes a comparative analysis of the Jewish and general medical-ethical approach to relevant topics.” —




The value of human life : contemporary perspectives in Jewish medical ethics / edited by Refoel Guggenheim [and others] ; [translated by Yves Nordmann, Raphael Patcas].


“At the first International Conference on Jewish Medical Ethics in Switzerland in 2008, leading experts in the field gathered to discuss this vital subject, giving a Torah perspective on a pressing contemporary issue with vast ramifications. This book is a compilation of some of the fascinating lectures delivered at this conference, bringing some of the most prominent experts in the field and their insights.” —



The library has many more titles on the intersection of Judaism and Medicine which can be accessed via these links to our catalog: Electronic titles | Print titles.


  1. Washofsky M. Medicine, Healing and the Jewish Tradition | My Jewish Learning. Published 2017. Accessed August 23, 2017.
  2. Jacob AW. Judaism on Medicine. Yale J Biol Med. 1976;49:385-389. Accessed August 24, 2017.


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