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Thursday, May 23, 2024 - 15 Iyyar 5784
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The Symptoms and the Cure

Two of the unfortunate symptoms of a flu infection are high fever and body aches and pains, which usually send sufferers to the medicine cabinet searching for some relief. However, researchers have recently studied the effects of over-the-counter pain relief drugs on flu transmission. They have estimated that fever reducers such as Tylenol or Advil can increase the number of flu cases by five percent each year.

Their intriguing premise is that taking medication to relieve flu symptoms contributes to the spread of disease, because although you feel well enough to be out and about, you may still be shedding virus.

Some scientists have raised questions about this premise – for example, people can be contagious for several days before or after coming down with a virus. In that case, they are out and infecting others without even being aware that they are ill. Taking pain relief medication or a fever reducer, then, would have little effect on the propagation of the virus. Still, it pays to stay at home resting until you are sure you are no longer contagious. Study author David Earn, of McMaster University in Ontario, suggests, “If you decide to take drugs to make yourself feel better, just recognize that you should still consider staying home or not sending kids to school. Even though they feel better, they might be more likely to transmit to others.”


Just as in the physical world, a sick person can infect others by contact, the same is true of spiritual maladies. A bad mood, a sour disposition, a sense of doubt and pessimism – these feelings are contagious and affect others. Sometimes it seems that we can cover up our “symptoms” – put on a smile, wear a carefree exterior. However, as long as the spiritual malady is not healed, we continue to suffer, and the people around us are still at risk of being harmed.

Treating the symptoms is no substitute for healing the illness.

The era of Moshiach is described by the Torah (Devarim 7:15) as a time when G-d will “remove from upon you all illnesses.” Spiritual as well as physical illnesses will disappear, because G-d will “remove the spirit of impurity from this world.” We will no longer need to put up a false front and “fake it until you make it.” Our inner soul will be revealed and exterior and interior will be in perfect harmony.


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