Fulfilling a Biblical Commandment in America
The Russian immigrant had barely gotten off the airplane when she came to my office complaining of shortness of breath. A quick physical examination and ultrasound of the heart made it apparent that this older woman had a bad valve in her heart and would need surgery if she was to survive much longer. The fact that she had no medical insurance made little difference to me or to the other doctors who took care of her.
She was now in my office for a return examination, and fortunately was doing quite well after her surgery. Naturally, her family was grateful for the care she had been given by all of her doctors. As I walked her up to the checkout desk to set up her next visit, I was struck by the makeup of the others at the desk at that time. In addition to me, a Jew born in America, there were two other doctors who were with patients – one born in Viet Nam and one in Iran. The patients were from Russia, Africa and the U.S. The woman doing the check-out (my office manager) was African American, and the medical assistants in the office at the time included a Roman Catholic, born in America, a Baptist, and a wonderful woman from Mexico.
In the Bible, we are commanded 36 different times to “love the stranger” because, “You know what it feels like to be a stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9). I’m sure on one else in the office was even aware at the diversity on display that afternoon. All any of us thought about was giving proper care to our patients. And maybe that very fact makes America such a special place.
If you have a comment or question about this blog entry, email Dr. Roffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Joel Roffman has spoken to many church, synagogue and support groups. His book, Coping with Adversity: Judaism’s response to illness and other life struggles is enjoyable, uplifting and informative. It is meant for people of all faiths and can be viewed at www.copingwithadversity.com. It is available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com.