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Who Discovered Immunization?

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Topic: Who Discovered Immunization?

From: Ellen in Boston

Dear Rabbi,
With all the current scare of biological weapons of mass-destruction, everyone's talking about developing and making vaccines for everybody just in case. The other day a friend told me that she heard that vaccines are taught in the Torah. When I went to Hebrew school I never read anything like that! Is it really there? Thanks for your wonderful resource!

Dear Ellen,

I generally like to avoid what some may call "pseudoscience" but since you asked, I'd like to share a brief piece I recently came across. I hope you enjoy it and if you or any of the readers can verify the story please share your sources and ideas with me.

One of the greatest scientific discoveries, which has saved the lives of millions throughout the world, was the work of Dr. Louis Pasteur. Pasteur's discovery deals with a method to cure diseases by the effective use of the same bacteria that cause them. As is known, he began his experimental research with an effort to cure rabies and other diseases. His successful endeavors surpassed his wildest hopes and Pasteur continued to apply his method to other ailments.

Till today, Dr. Pasteur's discovery serves as a central basis for all types of immunization. It is also appropriate to mention the homeopathic approach to the cure of disease which attempts to cure ailments by using materials similar to those that cause them. The homeopathic method is gradually gaining popularity in the Western world.

In Pasteur's generation there appeared a Hebrew book called Mevo She'arim (An Entry to the Gates) which quoted reliable witnesses who heard from Dr. Pasteur's close friend Rabbi Dr. Israel Michel Rabinowitz that Pasteur discovered the basis for his revolutionary research in the Talmud.

It all began when Rabbi Dr. Rabinowitz, then living in Paris, began to translate the Talmud into French. His translation of the tractates of the Seasons (Mo'ed) reached Dr. Pasteur and aroused his curiosity. To his amazement, Pasteur discovered a surprising statement in Tractate Yoma, 84:

"If someone was bitten by a mad dog [affected with rabies], one should feed him the lobe of that dog's liver."

The curious doctor immediately launched a series of experiments whose results continue to save millions of lives to this day.

Indeed, "probe the Torah over and over" - that is, examine it as deeply as possible - "for everything is in it" - for you will find everything you need there (Tractate Avot 5:22).


  • Science Outscienced by Zamir Cohen
  • See Tractate Yoma, 83: "Five symptoms characterize a mad dog: its mouth is always open, it continually drools saliva, its ears droop, its tail drags between its legs and it walks at the side of the road."

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