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Rabbi Rami: "Is My Friend Responsible for her Cancer?"

My closest friend has stage IV lymphoma. She’s always been a negative person. Could this be why she has cancer?Rabbi Rami: While our mental and spiritual states can impact our physical health, there are far too many variables involved with cancer to blame your friend’s personality for her illness. More interesting is why you even consider doing so. Would it comfort her to know she’s responsible for her cancer? Or does it comfort you in that you can say to yourself, “This can’t happen to me since I’m not a negative person”? No one deserves to be ill or well. Illness and wellness are simply part of the scheme of things. What we deserve is to be treated justly and with compassion regardless of the turns our lives take. Don’t ask, “Why is my friend suffering?” Ask, “What can I do to help her bear her suffering more effectively?”Do you ever doubt the truths you believe in? How do you maintain your faith?I cherish doubt and cultivate it. I welcome the challenge of new ideas, especially those in conflict with my own. I embrace doubt to clear my mind of cherished opinions masquerading as truth. Doubt isn’t the …

About the Author

Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art. Rabbi Rami hosts our podcast, “Essential Conversations.”

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