The Gemara in Bava Kamma (60b) says:

The Sages taught: If there is plague in the city, gather your feet, i.e., limit the time you spend out of the house, as it is stated in the verse: “And none of you shall go out of the opening of his house until the morning.” And it says in another verse: “Come, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself for a little moment, until the anger has passed by” (Isaiah 26:20). And it says: “Outside the sword will bereave, and in the chambers terror” (Deuteronomy 32:25).

Rabbi Elimelech Bideman shlita (in a youtube video called "Rabbi Elimelech Biderman on Corona Virus (Yiddish w/English subtitles)) brings a Ben Yehoyada that says that it is good to "gather your feet and leave the city", because, explains the Ben Yehoyada, because when there is an epidemic going around, the fear and panic that ensues harms the people and actually brings him to be ill.

The Ben Yehoyada states:

ודע כל זה שכתבו המהרש"א ז"ל והרב עיון יעקב ז"ל הוא בְּדֶבֶר אבל בְּחֹלִי הקוליר"א אפילו אם נתחזק החולי בעיר, טוב שיברח וגם בזה לא יועיל ההסגר בביתו שבעיר יען כי זה החולי של הקוליר"א יזיק לאדם הפחד וההבעתה ויתהווה בו החולי מחמת הפחד וההבעתה אשר יפחד ונבעת ואומרים הרופאים מעשה בדרך משל ומליצה:

The question is: why does the Ben Yehoyada states that the fear and panic itself are causing a person to be ill. Are there any commentaries that explain this?

1 Answer 1


The Ben Yehoyada is the one who mentions the Maharsha. He is referring to the Maharsha on that Gemara. The Maharsha is assuming the premise that obviously it is a good idea to leave/avoid the area of an epidemic. He therefore explains that the Gemara, by saying to remain inside, is not negating leaving the town, but rather that if you did remain in town stay indoors.

The Ben Yehoyada is adding to this Maharsha, that when it comes to Cholera it is better to leave town even after the plague has hit the town. This is because the mental anguish caused by the death and yelling all around is dangerous in its own right. His source for this is the doctors of his time, who he goes on to quote.

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