In the last two decades, researchers have increasingly confirmed the relationship between mind and matter. Many studies have shown that one's thoughts and moods can affect one's health, no less than genetics or environment. It has been demonstrated that depression, criticism, jealousy, and negativity can all cause physical symptoms such as headache, abdominal complaints, heart problems and other ills.
Emotional and psychological stress causes the release of stress hormones. Over time this reduces the function of the immune system and compromises the health of the body as a whole, making it more vulnerable to attack by viruses and other microorganism
The Torah teaches us that evil speech (lashon hara, which refers to spreading true derogatory information about someone else) harms three people: The speaker, the listener and the one who is spoken about. During Biblical times, the punishment for evil speech was swift: the speaker would be stricken with tzaraat, a disease that required one to be isolated from the camp.
After the Holy Temple was destroyed and the Jewish people dispersed, tzaraat no longer afflicted those who spoke evil speech. No longer did spiritual phenomena immediately manifest themselves in physical form. In time medical science discovered that many communicable diseases are caused by bacteria or viruses. But today it is clear once again that those who engage in gossip about others, constant criticism and negativity, also suffer a host of physical ills. The Torah's message -- to think good, speak well of others and to do good -- is also a recipe for a physically and psychologically healthy life.
Physicians and psychologists now advise people to reduce conflict and general ill-will, by taking deep breaths, pausing before speaking, and avoiding relationships that lead to emotional exhaustion. These are modern methods to prevent the cycle of stress, worry and poor health.
This common sense approach to health and human relationships has its source in the Torah, the timeless wisdom of G-d which guides us in every area of life. Through following the advice of the Torah we are assured a life of optimal health, fulfillment and satisfaction. This is a lifestyle that has proven itself over the three millennia since the Torah was given.
Following the guidance of the Torah in this area also provides another benefit. It promotes love and unity, which, as our sages say, reverses the leading cause of exile and brings about the ultimate Redemption.