Dear B’nai Shalom members, friends, and families:

I would like to share with you the following story — a true depiction of an experience a friend of mine had just a few years ago that touched me and influenced my way of thinking in one particular area of life.

My friend was scheduled to visit a well-thought of oral surgeon to have a couple wisdom teeth removed. Part of the protocol of this particular surgeon was to check the vitals of every patient prior to the oral surgery. This included taking the blood pressure of the patients preparing for, and anticipating surgery.

This practice may well have saved my friend’s life. When the surgeon took my friend’s blood pressure just prior to the expected soon-to-follow oral surgery, he immediately removed the cover from my friend’s body, switched off the overhead flood lamp, and told my friend: “This surgery is NOT taking place.” He shared with my friend the frighteningly-high, dangerous reading of my friend’s blood pressure and told my friend that he was “calling an ambulance to take you immediately to the closest emergency room.” My friend was in disbelief.

I should mention that my friend was someone who had not been to a physician for a general medical examination in approximately 25 years.

My friend was dumbfounded. He couldn’t believe what the surgeon had just told him. He was shocked to hear his exceedingly high blood pressure and even more startled to be told that the surgeon was going to call an ambulance to take him “…directly to the nearest emergency room.”

The surgeon actually did not permit my friend to leave his office until he received a solemn oath from my friend that he would drive himself “directly to the nearest medical clinic.”

Once at the medical clinic, my friend learned that he was “suffering from extremely and dangerously-high blood pressure” and was put immediately on blood pressure medication. The doctor at the immediate care clinic also told my friend that he (my friend…) is lucky “…you are not dead with that kind of blood pressure.”

Since that time, my friend commenced and has continued to schedule yearly medical examinations with a primary physician and has since learned he also was diagnosed with high cholesterol, for which he is currently taking appropriate medication.

I mention all of this to you, my synagogue family and friends, because this friend of mine is the second among my friends who had not seen a doctor in over several decades. The first of my friends who also fell into this category ended up seeing a doctor because of the ongoing pleading and beseeching of her sister who did not desist in pestering this friend until she DID end up seeing a primary physician.

It is clear to me that there are MANY people, for a variety of reasons, who avoid going to a doctor. In this way, potential life-threatening maladies and illnesses may be missed, resulting in the unnecessary shortening of one’s life for lack of medical care.

We live in a time in which medical expertise has never been more precise and more helpful. With the medical technology and advanced medical knowledge our doctors now possess, many diseases and internal problems — with early discovery and subsequent intervention, lives can be saved and elongated far beyond the life expectancies of previous generations.

I recognize that many people read this bulletin. It is in the hope and expectation that the Torah-directed mitzvah to “Hishamru et nafshotaychem”, “guard your health”, will resonate with many of you to assertively schedule your medical check-ups and annual examinations.

By using our collective initiative and actively working to preserve and “guard our health”, we can participate in the endeavor of ensuring that our lives are as safe, healthy, and comfortable that they can possibly be, with the consent and blessing of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Almighty G-d.

I hope and trust this message lands on open and cooperative ears such that we ALL do what we can to join HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s plan so we can live as long and as full a life as He permits.

With Torah Blessings Always,
Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Dvorin