After the giving of the Torah recorded in last week’s portion Yitro, G-d told Moses to ascend Mt Sinai again – this time for 40 days – in order to teach him the details of the Torah laws.

G-d prefaces His explanation of the laws by saying that the Jewish people are required to set up a system of courts in order to try all cases of criminal, civil and ritual law. G-d then explained the laws pertaining to servants, marital obligations, murder, honouring parents, kidnapping and compensation for injuries.

(If someone injures someone else, the injurer) must pay for (the injured party’s) complete cure. (21:19)

Whenever we are ill, G-d requires us to seek the help of a qualified doctor and follow all of their instructions. Likewise, G-d has empowered doctors to heal the sick. However, whereas doctors are merely encouraged to heal whoever is sick, they are obligated to try to save someone’s life when it is threatened.

Just as there are both life – threatening and non – life threatening bodily illnesses, so too is it with “spiritual illnesses”. Spiritually a person is in mortal danger when his condition has begun to affect his ability or desire to fulfil the Torah’s commandments, since it is through our performance of the commandments that our spiritual vitality flows into us.

The rules pertaining to a physical doctor also apply to a “spiritual doctor” – i.e. Anyone who is capable of helping someone who is “spiritually ill”. When someone is suffering from a minor “spiritual ailment”, we are encouraged to offer spiritual assistance. However, when someone is in spiritually “mortal danger” – i.e. his fulfilment of G-d’s commandments is threatened – we are obligated to offer assistance, not allowing any other considerations to get in the way.