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131
Can Physicians Earna living? Accepting Cmpensatin frMedica Treatment
e obigatin t Hea
 Avi Friedman
ere are numerus surces that indicate that it is a 
mitzvah
fr a physician t treat the sick. In leviticus,the verse states “‘neither sha yu stand idy by the bdf yur neighbr.”
1
is teaches that there is a negativecmmandment t abstain frm assisting in the medicacare f ne’s few man shud ne have any abiity thep. Next, the Trah states in Exdus that “yu shasurey hea.”
2
Finay, the
Rambam
his cmmentary nthe Mishna understands the verse in Deuternmy f “And yu sha return it t him”
3
t incude returning smene’s bdy r heath t him as part f the
mitzvah
t
1 leviticus 19:162 Exdus 21:193 Deuternmy 22:2 Avi Friedman is a third year medica student at the Abert Einstein Cege f Medicine f Yeshiva niversity.
 
132 •
Verapo Yerape 
return a st bject.
4
 
5
 In Deuternmy, the Trah says “Behd I have taughtyu.”
6
Frm this verse, the Tamud
7
teaches that just as
Hashem
taught us Trah fr free, we must teach thers frfree. By the same tken, physicians shud cure the sick free f charge as we since in ding s they are perfrming 
mitzvah
and ‘teaching’ their patients hw t take caref their bdies. erefre, it may nt be permissibe fra dctr t receive cmpensatin fr dispensing medicacare. Indeed, the Shuchan Aruch,
8
as we as the
Ramban
 in
Torat Ha’Adam,
9
rues that a dctr may nt acceptcmpensatin fr his medica knwedge. Nevertheess, heis entited t payment fr his time and/r ert.
Ramban
, thugh, in that same piece pines that in theevent that a patient prmises an excessive sum f mney t a dctr, he must pay it in fu since after a he has purchasedthe physicians invauabe medica knwedge. Hw canthe
Ramban
write this cnsidering that he cntends that a physician is sey wed mney fr his st time and trubesince his knwedge cannt be charged fr? In erts tresve this apparent cntradictin, Chayim David Haevi
10
 
4
Rambam
, Mishna 
Nedarim
4:45 Fr further study f tpics in ensuing discussin pease see: A) Rsner,Fred. “Physicians’ Fees.”
Biomedical Ethics and Jewish Law 
. Hbken, NJ:KTAV Pub. Huse, 2001. B) Saamn, Nam. “Cncierge Medicine andHaacha.”
 Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 
. Vume 58 Fa 2008.6 Deuternmy 4:57
Bechorot 
29a 8
Yoreh De’ah
336:29 C.D. Chave, Kitve Rabbenu Mshe ben Nahman (Jerusaem: MssadHaRav Kk, 1964), 44-45.10 C.D. Haevi, “
Tashlum Sekhar Harofe’ Behalakhah
”, in
Torah
 
Shebe’al Peh,
 ed. Y. Rafae (Jerusaem: Mssad HaRav Kk, 1976), 29-37.
 
Can Physicians Earn a Living? 
• 133
 writes that the
Ramban’s 
psitin is that in truth a physiciancannt charge exrbitant fees. Hwever,
b’dieved 
(after thefact) if a dctr arranges t be paid an excessive fee, thepatient is bigated t pay.In fact, the
 gemara 
in
Sanhedrin
11
prvides a precedentfr high physician fees. e
 gemara 
reates an incidentthat a hunchback,
Geviha ben Pesisa 
, had a discurse with a certain heretic and at sme pint caed the heretica
chayavaya 
’ which
Rashi 
denes as a wicked persn.oended, the heretic said t
Geviha 
that he wants t kick him and straighten his back. In respnse,
Geviha 
says if yu did that I wud cnsider yu an expert physician andyu wud be abe t demand very high fees. Ceary, thereexists a ntin f arger fees being paid t gd dctrs.e
Ramban’s 
pinin, hwever, is nt unanimus, in thatthe
Ritva,
12
as we as the
 Maharam
(
 Meir ben Gedalyah
) asquted by Rav Shm Kuger
13
never cncede that feesbeynd ne’s st time are justied.
Physician’s Fees in Contemporary Society 
 Assuming that a dctr shud ideay ny becmpensated fr his time, hw shud ne pace a vauen that time?
Rashi 
14
in his cmmentary expains that theassessment f the vaue f st time is based n what thatindividua wud have earned therwise. e dicuty  with this understanding is that there is a majr distinctinbetween the dctrs f 
Rashi’s 
time and mdern physicians.
11 91a 12 Ym Tv ben Avraham A-Ashbii, Nveae
Ritva 
,
Nedarim
38b.13 S. Kuger,
Chachmat Shlomo, Yoreh De’ah
336:314
Bechorot 
29b, s.v.
kepo’el batel 

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