What is up with "yeneh machalah"?

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  • #610406
    the-art-of-moi
    Participant

    ive always been bothered by people saying yeneh machalah or yeneh maaseh instead of cancer. i know, some rabbi dude back in the ages said if you avoid the word cancer like a plague you wont get it. i know. but, seriously?

    why dont people call depression yeneh maaseh? what about pneumonia? it is so insensitive and stigmatizing to people with cancer! cancer is just like any other sickness. in fact, its better than many other sicknesses!it is so hurtful to hear people like, you know the routine:

    did you hear about sara? no? oy, nebach such a sad story….

    she has, you know…

    * lowers voice and looks around dramatically. gulps and bites lip. *

    oish,* sighs*

    she has…* the word emerges choked up* yeneh machala.

    HELLO???

    please, lets start a communal project to stop this disgusting practice. its hurtful, and downright mean.

    in the zchus of this, may mashiach come and may i be accepted into the right school for me. very soon, please Hashem.

    #981567
    Oh Shreck!
    Participant

    Let’s start a communal project to keep illnesses away.

    #981568

    Cancer is generally not preventable.

    There are certain exceptions– for example, lung cancer and skin cancer. Most cancers, however, cannot be kept away by any kind of “communal project”.

    #981569
    LevAryeh
    Member

    People with cancer are stigmatized because they have cancer; not because people call cancer yeneh machla.

    If you compare cancer with other illnesses (pneumonia, hepatitis, etc.), it stands out for a few reasons.

    1) It can affect the health of the patient in the future (think fertility, etc.)

    2) It is typically associated with a long battle for survival with many ups and downs, which is more of an emotional roller coaster than many other illnesses would have.

    3) In many cases (depending on the type/stage), it has a higher fatality rate.

    4) It is more common than many other diseases.

    Personally I usually call it cancer. Maybe I’ve become desensitized from all the people I know who have (had) it.

    #981570
    YW fan
    Participant

    the-art-of-moi, SUCH a good point!

    #981571
    MCP
    Member

    JF: You are obviously an apikores. Every sane believing Yid knows that cancer is caused by girls skirts being too short/too long, or maybe it’s lashon hara, or maybe it’s the internet, or maybe it’s guys who use foul language, or maybe it’s teenagers who hang out with the opposite gender! How can you not be aware of such a simple FACT!

    #981572

    I agree with Moi. I also don’t like it. My wife uses this also and I refuse to participate in it. As you say, it’s just a disease and there should not be any shame/fear or whatever in calling it by its name.

    #981573
    chani91
    Member

    yes u are right! lets stpo talking bout ppl!!

    #981574
    anewyummycupcake
    Participant

    depends what kind of communal project you’re talking about. I just heard a speech by a famous rabbi we all know and love, who said that cancer, if you think about it, is ONE CELL IN THE BODY THAT DOESN’T GET ALONG WITH THE OTHERS CUZ ITS DIFFERENT. IF WE’D STOP BEING SO STUCK UP AND JUDGMENTAL AND WE START BEING KIND TO PEOPLE AND HELPING PEOPLE, NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE, EVEN IF THEY ARE DIFFERENT, THAT CAN STOP CANCER OR YENE MACHLA OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. WE HAVE TO STOP JUDGING PPL JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE SICK, THEY LOOK FUNNY, THEY AREN’T AS FRUM, AREN’T AS WEALTHY ETC ETC…HASHEM DOESN’T DIFFERENTIATE LIKE THAT. SO WE HAVE TO STOP DOING IT TOO. that’s also a communal project, and it could prevent cancer. doesn’t hurt to try…

    #981575

    That’s a great mashal by the Rav, and definitely good chizuk for klal yisrael right now. However, I don’t think you can “play” hashem, and say that if you do x, hashem will do y. We do not understand Hashem and how he works, and to say we do is to lie. Of course being nice to others is always good, but we can’t say that will “cure” cancer. Plenty of very nice people have cancer, after all.

    #981576
    anewyummycupcake
    Participant

    rationalfrummie, ur right, but i wasn’t trying to play Gd and neither was the Rabbi. I can’t say for sure that’s how it works, it’s just that we are supposed to learn a lesson out of every situation, and if this is what we are supposed to take a lesson from, Hashem’s gonna keep bringing it till we learn a lesson…also, i wasn’t saying that the ppl who get cancer are the ones who need to work on themselves. what the rabbi said is that we are all, on a communal level, causing those ppl to suffer, we are killing them. cuz if we were so good, Hashem wouldn’t have to send us horrifying reminders to get us back on track.

    s

    #981577
    rebdoniel
    Member

    I use the term, even though its use reflects superstitious attitudes and idolatrous tendencies.

    #981578
    writersoul
    Member

    “who said that cancer, if you think about it, is ONE CELL IN THE BODY THAT DOESN’T GET ALONG WITH THE OTHERS CUZ ITS DIFFERENT.”

    Not exactly- more like one cell that grows more and more until it takes over the whole body with itself, which is another interesting point to ponder. Very similar, but more of a “keeping up with the Schwartzes” thing IMO.

    Or one cell that doesn’t recognize boundaries and keeps going and going…

    This is turning into gematria. I’m starting to agree with jfem on this one (and MCP, that apikores bit was SO out of line) and with whoever mentioned about the fact that yes, maybe you can do tikkunim or whatever but there is NO direct cause->effect chain.

    #981579

    @MCP

    *thumbs up* +1

    #981580
    oomis
    Participant

    It’s called that because people are afraid to say the word CANCER, as if saying it makes it somehow contagious. A young, close relative of mine who has not even begun to live his life, has a terrible form of cancer that is resistant to treatment, quite rare in young adults, and the treatment protocols for it are horrendous. If all it took to not get cancer (and this one came out of left field) was to be kind to your fellow Jew and to non-Jews as well, not be judgmental, show chessed, do mitzvos, give tzedaka, be tzniusdig, learn Torah, and so on, this is a young man who would NEVER be sick with even a head cold. He has ALL those wonderful Middos, but when Hashem Makes a Gezairah, it stands. R”L, Tzaddikim get cancer, and reshoim can go their entire lives in the best of physical (if not spiritual) health. It is what it is, and I hope after 120 years we are zochim to understand why this is so.

    #981581
    mdd
    Member

    I would like to protest the bizui Talmidei Chachomim and apikorsus here. The-art-of-moi, use respectful language. Plus, we believe in the power of words. How do you know that that Rov was wrong?

    MCP, some of your examples have sources in befeirushe Chazals. Do you belive them?

    #981582
    MCP
    Member

    I certainly believe that our actions can affect our health, both spiritual and physical. I do not believe that any one of the things I mentioned are THE cause of anything else. To make a claim that one individual transgression, be it Lashon Harah, Tznius, or any other of the myriad causes of the day, is causing specific tzaros is apikorsus in my opinion. At best, it is trivializing the complicated way we are judged.

    Furthermore, the manner in which these are thrown around is counterproductive to having any positive effect. The way to affect change is not via false fear mongering.

    Also, I’d love to see the “befeirushe chazals” that say what causes cancer.

    #981583
    mazaltov
    Member

    As a cancer survivor one of the worst things anyone could ever say to me is – it’s a punishment! I was told that more than once.

    My oncologist told me that she is yet to have a patient with a normal vitamin D level.

    I can recommend that you all have your levels checked.

    Go for your routine mammograms and pap smears.

    Don’t eat junk foods.

    Don’t smoke!

    I know there is a Heavenly plan and if Hashem gave this to me there is a reason.

    Keep Healthy and smile.

    Bezras Hashem all will be helped Bkorov with the Geulo Shlaimo

    #981584
    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit
    Participant

    mazaltov- Some people think they’re G-d, or are just plain rude. No one but Hashem knows exactly why you had to get sick. Of course everyone should do their utmost hishtadlut to stay healthy, and thank you for your specific tips.

    #981585
    the-art-of-moi
    Participant

    mazaltov-

    did it bother you when people said yeneh machalah?

    lev aryeh- there are many illnesses out there that have the exact same issues. why is everyone all crazy over this one?

    #981586
    LevAryeh
    Member

    taom – Name one.

    #981588
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Plus, we believe in the power of words

    So, do you also avoid saying “AIDS” “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” or any of the other illnesses that are equally or more fatal than cancer?

    The Wolf

    #981589

    I believe that the urge to say “yenna machla” actually stems from a good place.

    The Gemara often uses euphemisms to avoid describing things that are deemed too explicit or shocking. Probably, the origin of “yenna machla” was not a superstitious ritual to prevent bringing cancer upon oneself, but rather an attempt to euphemistically minimize the shock value of the word.

    Unfortunately, what the term mostly succeeds in doing, nowadays, is further stigmatizing an already stigmatized condition within the Jewish world. Cancer is hardly a rare and unspeakable condition nowadays, and to use “yenna machla” to describe all forms of it lumps the treatable in with the terminal and the survivors in with the deceased.

    #981590
    mdd
    Member

    Oomis, not being judgemental is a Christian value, not a Jewish one.

    #981591
    mdd
    Member

    MCP, I to a certain degree agree with you. There are Chazals which say doing certain things protects you from general or specific harm or certain aveiros bring certain punishments.

    #981592
    yentingyenta
    Participant

    if you are going to say ‘yene machle’ for cancer, say ‘yene machle’ for heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s etc. JMHO….

    #981593
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    If you want to disregard something you don’t understand, at least be willing to admit it. I grew up in a place where we put down everything other frum people did that we didn’t do, because we KNEW they were foolish, wrong, crazy or whatever. Maybe you just don’t know the reason and you should try, respectfully, to get an answer. Try it, it’s a good lesson for life. Not everything you never heard of is a falsehood. Not everything you don’t understand is foolish.

    #981594
    mazaltov
    Member

    When someone said “yenna machla” to me I felt as though I had the plague! I had something so terrible – it’s unmentionable.

    #981595
    oomis
    Participant

    Oomis, not being judgemental is a Christian value, not a Jewish one. “

    MDD, Oops, but I believe you are mistaken. Al tadin es chaveircha, ad shetagiyah limkomo.

    #981596
    eclipse
    Member

    Certain words just sound worse than others. My mother had “it”, and although the entire community was davening for her, the word “cancer” was not bandied about, more like, not well, needs a refuah etc.(She passed away at 50 r”l)

    As a divorcee, I much prefer “single mom”, and instead of “my ex”, I’d rather say “the children’s father”,it’s hard to explain, just that words have harsher and softer sounds.

    On the topic of “yene machla”, I am approaching my mom’s age (a few years away), so I will accept all blessings to live a long and healthy life!

    #981597
    oomis
    Participant

    OY Eclipse! I am so sorry. May you live a long and healthy life.

    #981598
    oomis
    Participant

    On this note, I would like to say that my mother-in-law, O”H, who was not frum, was without doubt one of the kindedst most chessed-filled women I have known, except for my own mother O”H.

    Her kibud av was so exemplary, we could all learn from her. As a young wife, she and my shver took in her parents to live with them and care for them until they died, nearly 20 years later. She likewise took in and took care of her mother-in-law until she died, and her sister with two children, when the sister became widowed at a young age, for a couple of years until she was on her feet again. All this was done without fanfare, and with much love. There was room for all, and if there wasn’t, they made room.

    She had the most physically challenging existence for over 30 years, having had a massive stroke at age 40, which paralyzed her completely on one side and left her legally blind. The parts that were not paralyzed, were beset with severely crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Her pain was constant, she could do NOTHING for herself, not even feed herself when I met her. She suffered the tragedy of losing her first grandchild shortly before the child’s 12th birthday. But nonetheless, a sunnier, sweeter person would have been hard to find.

    If anyone would ever suggest to me that she was being punished by Hashem because she was not shomer shabbos or for some other aveira, I would ask them when Hashem last Revealed Himself to them. I would also be extremely appalled.

    #981599
    eclipse
    Member

    Thank you sweet oomis!

    #981600
    mdd
    Member

    Eclipse, you should be healthy and live long!

    Oomis, that mishnah does not imply you never judge anyone. It means: do not yell at someone who failed a big nisayon you never had.

    #981601
    eclipse
    Member

    Thanks MDD. Are you from Baltimore MD?

    #981602
    Toi
    Participant

    mdd- no it doesnt. the chasam sofer says it means to never judge. you can never be in the place someone else is.

    #981603
    mdd
    Member

    Toi, it is a shvere Chasam Sofer. I quoted Rashi. That’s the main stream pshat. Look in the “Chofets Chaim”. According to the Chasam Sofer how can there be a mitsvah to hate reshoim — you are not even allowed to judge them?

    Eclipse, I am not from there.

    #981604
    mdd
    Member

    Toi, the Christians hold like that Chasam Sofer though because Yoshke did. Btw where does the Chasam Sofer write so?

    #981605
    Toi
    Participant

    ill have to find it.

    #981606
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    moi

    “cancer is just like any other sickness. “

    while a nice sentiment, however it is simply not true. Unfortunately I have had to tell quite a few people that they have cancer. Not once has the reply been “Oh so you mean its like I have pneumonia but different”

    #981607
    LevAryeh
    Member

    +1 ubiquitin

    #981608
    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit
    Participant

    ubiquitin- I think what moi means is that what makes cancer worse than ALS or degenerative MS? We don’t hesitate to call these by name. There are many illnesses that are very serious that we name outright.

    #981609
    writersoul
    Member

    ubiquitin, LAB: True, but there are many, many diseases with just as low or lower survival rates and just as much or more suffering. Why single out cancer? Simply because of its pervasive nature? The number of cancer sufferers does not inform the individual person’s suffering (in fact, it may actually help because it would lead to more resources to help)- look me in the eye and tell me that, say, ESRD is not “as bad” as cancer.

    But only cancer gets that “bogeyman” distinction.

    I mention ESRD because a close relative of mine has suffered from it for many years. When people would talk about it all hush-hush and not say what was actually going on, I was completely freaked out- all those blank spaces in my knowledge were filled with nightmares. As those blank spaces were filled with real, hard fact, it became a lot easier for me to grasp- I now know that as devastating as it is, it’s a part of life, and therefore potentially solvable and finite. They’re not a ghostly shadow, scary and ten times bigger than the thing it makes a shadow of. It’s like Voldemort vs He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (sorry, best example I can think of off the top of my head)- which one is scarier?

    #981610
    sharp
    Member

    If anyone would ever suggest to me that she was being punished by Hashem because she was not shomer shabbos or for some other aveira, I would ask them when Hashem last Revealed Himself to them. I would also be extremely appalled.

    There’s no such thing as N’vuah today so comments like these are often a sign of mental illness.

    #981611
    asrc
    Participant

    I have a great way for everyone to help prevent cancer or at least help people from this terrible disease. Have you ever heard of rccs?

    I have a friend who was diagnosed with cancer and could not afford proper insurance to go to the specialist he needed. our Rabbi suggested she talk to rccs and they paid for her entire medical coverage now thank god shes well on his way to recovery!!

    they are an amazing organization that helps cancer patients in so many different ways!!

    #981612
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    writersoul, what differentiates cancer is one its pervasive nature (which is cheating because cancer is more of a group of diseases than a disease, it is more comparable to kidney disease than to ESRD.) Cancer is among the leading causes of death in ALL age groups. ESRD isnt nor are ALS depression and other diseases mentioned thus far.

    PErhaps what causes cancer to stand out even more than the above is how it often will presnt with vague or even no symptoms. Nobody wakes up one day and has ESRD it is a long process of kidney faiure (generally). Some cancers such as pancreatic cancer present as vague abdominal pain perhaps some weight loss, and next thing an otherwise healthy 50 year old is told he has(on average) less than a year to live. I dont think it is ahrd to understand why this helps make the thought of cancer terrifying to the point that it has this stigma associated with it.

    Im not saying it is good that it has this stigma, but that it is understandable and even deserved

    #981613
    oomis
    Participant

    There’s no such thing as N’vuah today so comments like these are often a sign of mental illness. ‘

    That is uncalled for. Chodesh Elul, too.

    #981614
    oomis
    Participant

    Oomis, that mishnah does not imply you never judge anyone. It means: do not yell at someone who failed a big nisayon you never had. “

    It also means that such a concept was already OURS before the non-Jews stole it. And the expression Al Tadin means do not judge, NOT do not yell at.

    #981615
    LevAryeh
    Member

    It’s like Voldemort vs He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (sorry, best example I can think of off the top of my head)- which one is scarier?

    I hear that. In a similar vein, Louis CK says that saying “the N word” is worse than saying the word itself.

    #981616
    ihear
    Member

    well said gaminat just to add when we put a fence around things even by just referring to it with differant words it already puts us one step further from saying something insensitive even by mistake

    i dont mean to judge but moi you sound like somone who has a problem with “jewishy stuff” in general rather than just those two words…

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