In Egypt, the Jewish People had assimilated to such an extent that they adapted the depraved ways of their host country almost to the point of no return. Radical action was required to save them before it was too late. In later exiles, a slower, more fundamental cure is called for.
Dr. Black drew his pager out of his pocket, glanced at it and nearly threw his coffee onto the table. At once, he was on his feet and dashing down the corridor in the direction of the Intensive Care Unit.
A nurse was waiting for him outside room 6A. "It's Jenkins again. His condition is critical…" said the intern on duty. He started to read off the statistics on his vital functions, but the doctor was one step ahead of him.
"Prepare for emergency surgery at once!" he barked, as he hurriedly donned a sterile gown and fresh gloves.
Like a well trained orchestra, each member of the ICU team took his place and played his part competently. The operation went well, and Jenkins pulled out of the crisis. Two days later, Dr. Black was at Jenkins' bedside, congratulating him on the fact that he was still alive.
"You had us really scared there," he told the patient with a smile. "Thank Heaven, the nurse alerted me at once. We operated at the last minute. Now you just need to rest and get back on your feet. Everything seems to be going just fine."
Two weeks later, Jenkins was ready for discharge. It would still take him some time to get his strength back, but the crisis was well behind him. "Don't go back to your full schedule all at once," the doctor cautioned Jenkins. "Take it sensibly, and in another few weeks you should be as good as new!"
"How can I thank you, Doctor Black? You saved my life!" answered Jenkins with deep feeling.
"That's what we're here to do, Jenkins. Just take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy; that is all the thanks I need."
Jenkins left the hospital and eventually recovered completely. Three months later, he was back at work, full time, and fit as a fiddle. He told everyone who would listen how Dr. Black had saved his life with emergency surgery.
Life went on as normal for Jenkins. He had a bout of flu here and there, sprained an ankle on a round of golf, but nothing more. In general, his health was fine. Occasionally, he recalled his close call in the intensive care ward, and wondered whether Dr. Black was still working at the same hospital.
Thirteen years later, he again met up with Dr. Black. This time, however, it wasn't an emergency that brought the two men face to face. Jenkins had been suffering shortness of breath, and his physician sent him to the hospital for testing. After a round of examinations and tests, he was invited into the doctor's office to learn what the testing had shown and hear the doctor's recommendations for treatment.
"I must thank you again for saving my life back then when I was in the ICU," said Jenkins, first thing. "I hope you'll be able to help me again this time."
"I hope so, too," answered Dr. Black with a smile. "It's a good thing you came in for testing, because it seems you've picked up an ailment that requires treatment before it causes any permanent damage to your lung."
Dr. Black went on to describe the disease and the potential harm it might cause if not seen to. Then he detailed a program of treatment. There would be medications, a long period of rest high up in the mountains, and a special diet.
"How long will the treatment take?" asked Jenkins, obviously not pleased at the prospect of having to spend several months at recuperating.
"A minimum of four months, I would say," replied the physician. "More likely, five or six months, and in unusually stubborn cases, up to a year."
"So long? Isn't there any quicker method of treating my condition?" asked Jenkins in dismay. "Back then, when I was in the ICU, my very life was in danger. I was certainly in a worse condition than I am now, but you managed to save me with an operation. Two weeks later, I was discharged from the hospital, and two months later, back at my office, at least part time. Isn't there some sort of operation that would get me over this business faster than the course of treatment you just described?"
"Let me explain something, Mr. Jenkins, said Dr. Black, sitting back in his chair. "An operation isn't the ideal method of treatment. It means cutting into living flesh, removing a part of a living organism – in short, a trauma with which the body is then called upon to deal with as well as it can, when it is already weakened by a disease.
"Years ago, when you were in the ICU, we had no choice. It was surgery, or let you die. Of course we operated; that was the only option available under the circumstances.
"Right now, you're life isn't in danger, thank Heaven. We have a less traumatic option open to us, even if it does take longer. There would be no justification now for surgery, even if it would cure you more quickly, because of the unnecessary risks that accompany such a step.
My best advice to you, as a physician, is to follow the course of treatment which I've outlined here; it's well tested, and we have a proven record of high success with it. Take my advice, follow this plan, and get yourself healthy and back on your feet again."
The situation of the Jewish People in Egypt called for "emergency surgery" – something radical which would be effective at once. Only a "miracle treatment" would accomplish a "cure." Indeed, G-d performed one miracle after the other, and redeemed us from bondage and took us to freedom.
Unfortunately, the Exodus had the disadvantages of surgery, in that a large portion of the nation was "cut away." Many Jews died in Egypt during the Plague of Darkness, shortly before the Exodus, and were lost to the Jewish People forever.
In addition, the Exodus from Egypt did not constitute a total redemption in that the nation would endure further periods of exile later in its history. Despite these shortcomings, the "surgery" effected by the Exodus was imperative because the condition of the patient, Israel, was so precarious that there was no other option to consider. During the years in Egypt, the people had assimilated many of the values of the culture around them.
Just as Jenkins' life was on the line, in the ICU, so, too, was the spiritual life of the Jewish People in danger had they remained any longer in the land of Egypt, with its paganism, materialism, and moral depravity.
The only solution in Egypt was immediate surgery, but in the future, we pray that G-d will redeem us through less radical measures, effecting a slower, but surer cure. Although more time will be needed if we are healed with medications, the path is surer and the results permanent.
The best medication for us today is Torah and its commandments, the antidote to all our spiritual ills, as recommended by the Manufacturer who created us and all Who heals all.