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Berachos 5b teaches:

רַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא חֲלַשׁ. עָל לְגַבֵּיהּ רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אֲמַר לֵיהּ: חֲבִיבִין עָלֶיךָ יִסּוּרִין? אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לֹא הֵן וְלֹא שְׂכָרָן. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: הַב לִי יְדָךְ. יְהַב לֵיהּ יְדֵיהּ, וְאוֹקְמֵיהּ. רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן חֲלַשׁ. עָל לְגַבֵּיהּ רַבִּי חֲנִינָא. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: חֲבִיבִין עָלֶיךָ יִסּוּרִין? אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לֹא הֵן וְלֹא שְׂכָרָן. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: הַב לִי יְדָךְ. יְהַב לֵיהּ יְדֵיהּ, וְאוֹקְמֵיהּ. אַמַּאי, לוֹקִים רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן לְנַפְשֵׁיהּ? אָמְרִי: אֵין חָבוּשׁ מַתִּיר עַצְמוֹ מִבֵּית הָאֲסוּרִים.‏

R' Chiya bar Abba fell ill. R' Yochanan went up to visit him. He said to him, "Is suffering precious to you?" [R' Chiya] said to him, "Not they nor their reward." [R' Yochanan] said to him, "Give me your hand." He gave him his hand, and he restored him. R' Yochanan fell ill. R' Chanina went up to visit him. He said to him, "Is suffering precious to you?" [R' Yochanan] said to him, "Not they nor their reward." [R' Chanina] said to him, "Give me your hand." He gave him his hand, and he restored him. Why? Let R' Yochanan restore himself? They said, "A prisoner cannot free himself from prison."

It seems from this Gemara that if suffering comes onto a person, it requires someone else to help free him from his suffering. Yet we find just the opposite in Bava Metzia 84b:

באורתא אמר להו אחיי ורעיי בואו בצפרא אמר להו זילו מפני ביטול תורה

In the evening, [R' Elazar] would say to [his pains - Rashi], "My brothers and friends! Come!" In the morning, he would say to them, "Go away, because of loss of Torah study."

How do we reconcile these two Gemaras?

  • See also B'reishis Rabba 53:14 (based on B'reishis 21:17): "יפה תפילת החולה לעצמו יותר מכל". Also see B'rachos 34b about the greater potency of R' Chanina's prayers compared to R' Yochanan's prayers. – Fred Jan 23 at 0:24
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    @Fred Different R' Chanina and different R' Yochanan, but I'll accept the point. I'm not sure the Midrash is relevant here, since that's asking Hashem to remove it, rather than directly removing it yourself (whatever mechanism is being employed, it's clearly that they're somehow empowered to do it, rather than relying on Hashem to intervene). – DonielF Jan 23 at 0:30
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    whatever mechanism is being employed, it's clearly that they're somehow empowered to do it, rather than relying on Hashem to intervene On the contrary, I assume the hand-taking activity involved some sort of prayer, whether verbal (but not mentioned in the gemara) or some sort of non-verbal implied prayer. – Fred Jan 23 at 0:45
  • @Ilja While that's certainly on some level a true concept (how it applies in each situation of course varies), but in the context of the specific Gemaras which I'm addressing in my question I don't think that's so relevant here. – DonielF Jan 24 at 17:17
  • Perhaps a relevant comment: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/62638/… – Fred Feb 24 at 22:59
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The Maharasha (Bava Metzia; Berachos) defines the case in Bava Metzia as one where the suffering was accepted as suffering of love (יסורין של אהבה). He writes further (Berachos) that they each needed someone else to heal themselves because these were indeed not sufferings of love, rather, they were on account of ceasing Torah study. Therefore, since the Talmud says (Berachos 5a) suffering of love does not contain the ceasing of Torah study, he was able to push them away.

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