The Value of Simchah

I look forward to your articles every week and find them generally enlightening and informative. I would like to add an important point regarding Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski’s May 13, 2020 mental health opinion, “Simchah Is a Cure.”

He told of a book by Norman Cousins, which describes how a fellow cured himself of a chronic incurable disease by using laughter. Rabbi Twerski subsequently tells the fascinating story of how he used simchah to cure a terminally ill man given only 18 months to live. Through simchah, the patient went on to live for more than 30 more years. In summation, Rabbi Twerski comments that he cannot explain the phenomenon medically, but that he had solid evidence that simchah can be a cure.

This revelation was first announced by Shlomo Hamelech in Mishlei and was clarified by early commentators: “Ruach ish yechalkel machaleihu,” (Mishlei 18, 14). The Vilna Gaon explains there that, through simchah, one can rid oneself of an illness. Also, “Lev someach yaitiv gaiha” (Mishlei 17, 22 ). Rabbeinu Yona there points out that simchah cures one’s illness. He even claims that simchah is the most integral part of a person’s physical well being.

If the concept of simchah being a cure is an idea established by our Torah Hakedoshah, then we certainly don’t need a medical explanation.