Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: On my friend’s recommendation, I went to a doctor who treated my ailment. The friend had praised his expertise and said he was an excellent diagnostician. Unfortunately, in my case the doctor’s treatment did not work and the medicine that he prescribed caused unpleasant side effects. Additionally, his level of patience with me was not the way my friend had described it.

At the end of the quarter, I switched to another doctor and was satisfied. Can I/should I tell my friend about my negative experience of my own accord? May I tell her if she initiates the conversation, or should I not tell her at all?

A: If your friend doesn’t ask you, then there is no reason to tell her of your negative experience with the doctor. The Gemara tells us that it is preordained which doctor will be the messenger to heal an individual. (Avodah Zara 55) Perhaps the first doctor was competent and professional, but it hadn’t been decreed from Above that he find your cure.

If your friend asks about your experience, you may only offer a minimal and restrained reply. It would be best to say, “Doctors can’t always satisfy their patients. In my case, your doctor was unsuccessful, but a different doctor diagnosed the problem. This doesn’t detract from the expertise or devotion of the doctor you recommended.” (This answer is based on the premise that we don’t judge a professional’s success by specific cases.)

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.