- Both lived during a time of persecution,
- Both lived in Egypt,
- Both did miracles,
- Both had siblings who were significant in their lives/survival,
- Both had powerful ememies,
- Both were close to the king,
- Both were leaders of their people.
...but some of the leading practitioners of Hippocratic medicine saw the study of their art as a way of understanding the divine, just as the Jews did. And they went even further, Galen of Pergamon, the most imfluential physician who has ever lived, believed that the proper way to worship the Divinity is not with prayer and sacrifice but with experiment and observation. Late in the second century C.E., he described his greatest anatomical work, De Usa Partium, as "the sacred discourse which I am composing as a true hymn of praise to our Cereator." To him, learning about the body was the sure way to learn about the godhead. He wrote:And I consider that I am really showing him reverence, not when I offer him unnumbered hecatombs of bulls and burn incense of cassia worth the thousand talents, but when I myself first learn to know his wisdom, power and goodness and then make them known to others. - 1
To them [Hypocratic practitioners] and to Maimonides, the physician's skills may have been God-given, but they were to be applied independently of any direct divine intervention. It is not a prayer that one should rely on when sick, he argued, but medical aid; the means of curing disease are provided by God, but "He has given wise and skillful men the knowledge of how to prepare and how to apply them." It is to these wise and skillful physicians that one should turn when disease strikes. - 2
"Religion prescribes all that is useful and forbids all that is harmful in the next world; while the doctor indicates what is useful and warns against what is harmful in this world." - 3
Being committed to a principle that the talmudic sage Rabbi Zadok articulated with the words (later reiterated by Maimonides), "Make not of the Torah a crown wherewith to aggrandize thyself, nor a spade wherewith to dig") and also stated by the great Hillel, who said, "Whosoever derives a profit for himself form the words of the Torah is helping in his own destruction"), the scholars of that period and afterward rejected payment for their religious services and sought secular employment. - 4
- What's the point of Torah study anyway?
- What -- besides money/benefits -- can we acquire from Torah study? (knowledge, understanding, prestige, self-importance...)
- How do those things (above) help/hinder us in knowing God?
"Literal interpretation, Maimonides believed, is only an adornment to attract those who are incapable of conprehending the comples truths that lie beneath. "Employ your reason," the Rambam exhorted those capable of doing so, "and you will be able to discern what is said allegorically, figuratively, and hyperbolicallym, and what is meant literally."" - 5