May 30, 2021

Yoma 49

In today’s daf (Yoma 49a), two versions of a statement of Rabbi Chanina are recorded, with the second seemingly being the more accurate of the two.
In terms of the first statement, it referred to those who had experienced a particular injury and queried whether such people were able to ‘survive’ the injury. Here, the word used by the Gemara for survive is וחיה. Contrasting this, the second statement refers to those who experienced the same injury, but queried whether such people were able to ‘heal’ from their injuries. Here, the word for healing is וחיית.
Considering this discussion, and the association between the word וחיה (to survive) and וחיית (to heal), I would like to reflect on the difference between surviving and healing, especially with respect to trauma.
As we know, when a terrible tragedy occurs, we refer to those who died and those who survived. Yet in many instances, even those who survive a trauma do not heal from it, and they carry the wound – be it a physical, or a psychological wound – with them, often for the rest of their life. True, the words וחיה and וחיית are similar; but surviving and healing are two very different things.
Sadly, there are many people around the world who are survivors of various traumas but whose lives have never healed from what they experienced. Yet because the wound which they carry is often on the inside, even those who know that they have suffered a trauma sometimes presume that they have healed.
Ultimately, surviving and healing are not the same, and experiencing one does not mean that one has experienced the other. So be gentle with those whom you meet – today, and everyday – because even if they may not appear to be wounded, this does not necessarily mean that they aren’t carrying a deep and raw wound that is yet to heal.
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