I have read many stories of great Rabbis, historically and in today's times, who have given people medical advice which was in direct contradiction to the advice given by expert medical professionals. Often times these stories are situations of life or death decisions where the doctor is saying that if the advice of the Rabbi is followed the patient will likely die. The stories all turn out with the patient listening to the Rabbi over the doctor and everything turns out well for the patient. It is my understanding that in regards to a medical question the halacha is that a person should (must?) follow the advice of medical experts and not rely on a miracle. I would like to understand what basis, if any are Rabbis allowed to give such advice and if the patient is allowed to follow the advice, why?

Note I am not asking about a situation where a Rabbi has as much medical knowledge (or more) than the experts and is therefore giving his advice in the capacity as a medical expert

  • Regarding listening to a concensus of medical experts about fasting on Yom Kippur he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Mar 19, 2020 at 11:33
  • 4
    Plausibly the stories were made up or exaggerated.
    – Double AA
    Mar 19, 2020 at 11:34
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    @DoubleAA or the stories are true, but the thousands of times where the patient listened to the doctor and lived don't get made into stories
    – Heshy
    Mar 19, 2020 at 11:38
  • The halacha does say that medical conditions override halacha, but it does not say the doctor is always right. In a small town, where the Rabbi new the doctor personally, and back when 99% of medicine was an educated guess, the Rabbi often had good reason to be skeptical of the doctor's instructions. If the Rabbi was intelligent and giving his advice based on his own qualified judgement, and and not as faith trumping medicine, then he would be allowed to give advice against the doctors judgement.
    – simyou
    Mar 19, 2020 at 12:43
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    If you have a case to mention where this happened, please do.
    – user6591
    Mar 19, 2020 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


When the great rabbis had ruach hakodesh, they were better trusted, even over the words of a doctor. In today's generation we don't know who has ruach hakodesh. There may not even be ruach hakodesh in today's generation. I heard people say that Rav Chaim Kaniefsky has Ruach hakodesh, but we don't know if he does. There are many great rabbis but if a rabbi is against a doctor in today's generation- you should go to a Gadol Biyisrael.


Maimonides says we should question everything, even medical tradition. Here is a good essay by Rabbi Slifkin. The essays says that one should not follow the medical advice of your rabbi over that of your doctor. Especially because of coronavirus.

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