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Religion And Health Part 15

The old proverb says that "worry and not work kills men." Undoubtedly worry rather than work ages men before their time and breaks down their vital resistance and makes them much more susceptible to the many diseases that may shorten existence as the years go on than they would have been liable to had they lived regular lives. Religion is the great salve for worries. When genuine it lessens the irritations of life, makes them more bearable, renders the disposition more equable and more capable of standing the stresses and strains of sudden trials or serious misfortunes than it would otherwise be.

Religion does not change nature essentially, but it lifts it up and modifies it to a noteworthy degree. Even Christ did not come to change human nature; He assumed it and showed men how to live. Religion does not make a passionate disposition mild, but it confers upon the passionate man the power to control his passions to no small extent and often so thoroughly that even those who know him best have no idea of the storms which start to brew within him but are suppressed.

Almost needless to say the moderation in all things which religion counsels and which its training fosters is extremely conducive to long life, if there is any underlying basis for that in the nature of the individual. Religion is like oil for machinery. It lessens the friction, prevents the development of heat which would only be destructive and serve no useful purpose, soothes the temper against reactions and smooths out life's ways. Some one once suggested that it represented the rubber tires of the modern automobile, but that is not a good figure, for the inflation {297} on which a man is smoothly carried may blow out at any moment and leave him to run on the rim.

That is much better represented by sentimentality and the motives drawn from it rather than from religion.

The direct influence of religion on health can very probably be estimated best by the comparative death rate of occupations.

Clergymen, according to English statistics which are gathered rather carefully, have the lowest death rate, even below that of gardeners and nurserymen whose constant outdoors life gives them such an advantage and whose simple laborious occupation without excitement is so favorable for long life. After these come the farmers and then the agricultural laborers, and then a long distance afterwards the schoolmasters and grocers and mechanics generally. The highest death rates in occupations occur not among the laboring classes occupied at the particularly unhealthy trades--plumbers and painters who are subjected to lead; file makers and knife grinders whose lungs are seriously hurt by dust; and earthenware manufacturers who are subjected to the influence of both dust and lead--but among the inn-keepers, spirit, wine and beer dealers and above all the inn and hotel servants among whom the moral hazards of life are greatly increased and over whom religion fails to have the influence that would be beneficial.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the effect of religion in lessening the wear and tear of life, thus proving conducive to its prolongation, is to take the statistics of the lives of those who devote themselves so thoroughly to their religious duties that they are called by the name _religious_. They give themselves not alone to the daily but almost to the hourly practice of religion, and its influence has a thoroughgoing opportunity to exert {298} itself over their lives. Most of them live very simply and abstemiously, and indeed many people would be inclined to say that they did not take quite sufficient food to nourish them properly and that they allowed their sleep to be interrupted by religious duties in such ways as not to afford themselves quite rest enough. They are all very early risers, at five o'clock in the winter at the latest and in summer at four, while not a few of them get up at some hour during the night to sing some portion of the office, the full round of which has to be completed every day. Their beds are usually rather hard; there is no carpet on the floor in their cells, their lives to most people would seem rather narrow and without adequate diversion, and yet they are noted for living beyond the average age, except in cases where work in hospitals or the like subjects them to the danger of infection.

The tradition with regard to this prolongation of life among the religious has existed since a very early time in Christianity and indeed was noted before the Christian era among the men and women who, as among the Buddhists, lived in monastic seclusion lives of great abstinence and occupation with the contemplation of the hereafter. In the very early days of Christianity a number of the men who withdrew to live the lives of solitaries in the desert regions of Egypt and of Syria exceeded the Psalmist's limit of life, though the account of their neglect of food would seem to make that almost impossible. A number of them lived to be beyond seventy and not a few beyond eighty and some of them over ninety. St. Anthony, who is often spoken of as the first hermit, lived to be beyond one hundred.

It is a matter of never-ending surprise to find how many {299} people who dwell in monasteries, where their occupation is mainly some simple work of the hands varied by long hours of reading and prayer during every day in the year, live to be very old. It might be surmised that their opportunities for introspection and thought about themselves would be so frequent and extensive that they would get on their own minds and probably be the victims of various nervous symptoms that would shorten existence through worries over trifles. So far is this from being the case, however, that some of the most striking examples of group longevity among people who are unrelated are to be found in what are known as contemplative monasteries, that is, institutions where there is only enough active life every day necessary to maintain health and supplies for the simple physical needs of a monastery, and the rest of the time is spent in reading, prayer, meditation and the saying of the Divine Office.

The modern religious orders, which imitate some at least of the austerities of the old solitaries and those who in the early days of Christianity lived in communities, have a record of longevity quite equal to that of their forbears. What an absolutely regular life under deep religious influences, where practically every hour of the day has its allotted task, where no meat is eaten and two Lents a year are kept--that is one third less is eaten for about one fourth of the year--will do to prolong human life, can be seen very well from the vital statistics of the well-known Trappist Monastery at Gethsemane in Kentucky, which are before me as I write. The average age at death of the members of this community for the last twenty-five years is nearly seventy-three. A number of them lived to be beyond eighty, and as the Abbot has written to tell me, the most satisfactory thing for the {300} community lies in the fact that the old members, even at fourscore years and more, can practically always join in the common life of the community and do not need to be specially waited on or taken care of. Their death is likely to be quiet and rather easy, the flickering out of the spark of life rather than its extinction.

One of the Benedictines has furnished me statistics for that order here in America, for there might be the feeling that in other countries life would be different and that longevity would occur for different reasons than those which occasion it in this country. A great many among the Benedictines live to celebrate their golden jubilee, and life among them has been calculated to be at least ten years more than that of their brothers and sisters who remained in the world.

Of course it might be said that only the people of very placid disposition who take things very quietly and are not inclined to worry would enter such institutions as these, and there is some truth in the statement. It is not nearly so true, however, as most people would imagine, for a great many of those who enter convents and monasteries were rather lively and gay when they were younger; indeed it has often been said that it was the liveliest, happiest and most charming girls at the convent schools who were destined to enter the convents afterwards.

As regards the monasteries for men, the same rule of longevity holds, and yet a great many of these men were not only lively and gay, but some of them had rather stormy careers before they settled down to the contemplative life after something of remorse over the foolishness which had led them astray in their younger years.

The men and women who enter religious orders are of course the more serious characters who take life rather {301} placidly, and this adds to their expectancy of life, for it is worry rather than work or suffering that shortens existence, but it must not be forgotten that not a little of their placidity is not natural to their dispositions, but is rather acquired as the result of their deep religious feelings and their recognition of the fact that God's Will will be accomplished anyhow and there is no use worrying about things.

Undoubtedly one of the principal reasons why the death rate among women at all ages is so much more favorable than might be expected, in spite of their apparent tendency to worry more, their nervousness about many things, and the dangers of maternity as well as their weaker physical constitution, is to be found in the fact that religious influences are much more profound over them and have a more calming effect than over men. A very old expression calls women the devout female sex, and the influence of their devotion to religion is reflected in their mortality statistics. Doctor Woods Hutchinson, in his "Civilization and Health", [Footnote 16] has a chapter on "The Hardy Nerves of Women" in which he brings out the fact that women resist the corroding effect of the strenuous life of modern civilization better than men and are not subject to the factors which have made modern health statistics so disturbing. For while we have been lengthening the average term of life and reducing the death rate in general, we have been shocked to find that the mortality above forty-five has been increasing rather than decreasing, so that men are being taken off just at the prime of life and at the height of their usefulness more than ever before, in spite of all our hygiene and the development of sanitary science.

[Footnote 16: Boston, 1914.]

{302}

The difference in mortality between men and women after the age of forty-five, that is, just at the time when religious feelings are likely to represent so much of a resource for the devout female sex, is so striking as to deserve to be noted particularly, and the contrast continues more and more to be emphasized as the years go on.

The average age at death has risen during the past generation from about thirty-three to slightly above fifty, but this improvement has been chiefly effected by saving the babies and children from death from unclean milk and the acute infectious diseases, and young adults from the great plagues of past generations, typhoid and tuberculosis.

Doctor Hutchinson goes on to say:

"Naturally this preserves a much larger number of individuals to live to, say, the age of forty-five. And, as we must all die sometime, we begin to drop off somewhat more rapidly after this point has been reached--that is to say, the stupid and helpless creature, man, does. Woman, however, is far too shrewd for that.

While man's mortality, after falling off markedly up to forty-five years, begins after that period to increase distinctly, woman's death rate, on the other hand, continues to decrease until fifty-five years of age, beating man ten years; then yields to the force of circumstances only to the extent of about one tenth of the increase man shows between fifty-five and sixty-five; and after seventy proceeds to decrease again."

Incidentally, it may be remarked that the total increase of mortality after forty-five in man is only about six per cent; besides which, the race need not worry much about what happens to the individual after fifty-five or sixty, provided he has done his share of the world's work. But {303} women pass men three laps to the mile, for their increase of death rate after the age of fifty-five is barely one per cent, or one sixth of man's.

The lessened death rates among women at all ages are notable, particularly among those who have taken life seriously and religiously. Typical examples of similar longevity which they themselves would surely have declared to have been influenced more by their religious attitude of mind than by any other single factor are noteworthy in the lives of the two English cardinals of the nineteenth century, Newman and Manning. Both of them were men who accomplished a very great deal of work in their younger years and who then went through the serious mental strain of giving up friends and ways that had been very near and dear to them and making a great revolution in their lives. Both of them lived to be well past eighty, and indeed Newman lived to be past ninety in the full possession of vigorous power of mind until the very end of life. He himself had not looked for long life, but on the contrary had felt that he was one of those fated to die rather young; indeed, in the sixties, he had begun to think that he would give up work, and his friends had settled down to the idea that he would not be long with them, when an attack on his sincerity aroused him to a magnificent response that is one of the precious treasures of nineteenth-century literature and then for nearly thirty years longer he was a great intellectual force.

This same thing is very well illustrated in the lives of the Popes of the nineteenth century, that is, during the period when modern hygiene and sanitation have developed to such an extent as to make the conservative influence of religion on health felt to the best possible effect. The {304} Popes all down the centuries have lived far beyond the average of humanity, in spite of the burdens of responsibility placed on them, and even the shortening of life by martyrdom of so many of them at the beginning. Our nineteenth and twentieth-century Popes have proved wonderful examples of what placidity of mind can do under the most difficult circumstances in keeping worries from wearing out life energies, in spite of the fact that the life stream in some of the cases did not appear to be very strong at its source and long life seemed almost out of the question.

These long lives might very well be matched from the lists of old pastors from all the denominations and the sects who have outlived the years of the Psalmist without incurring the physical evils which he prophesied. Old clergymen are particularly likely to retain the full possession of their senses and to live on to a quiet, peaceful old age. I once heard one of them say--I believe that it was a quotation--that he used to think that all the pleasure of life was contained in the first eighty years, but now at the age of eighty-five he knew that there was a great deal of life's satisfaction to be found in the second eighty years.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and most of us would think that they are the sort of exceptions that prove the rule. There is an old saw in many languages which says that the good die young, but physicians are likely to think that this old-fashioned expression is founded on nothing more than the fact that a good many of the weaklings born without very much vitality develop into harmless nonentities who have no strong impulses to either good or ill, and who have but very little resistive vitality and die of the infectious diseases in early youth {305} or are carried off by tuberculosis a little later. It must not be forgotten, however, that it is as much of an accident to run into a bacillus as into a trolley car, and indeed often more serious, and though all that too is in the hands of the Lord, in the order of Providence secondary causes work out their destined effects. Quite contrary to the tradition that the good die young is the world experience that a great many of the good, that is, men of sterling character and worth who have proved thoroughly capable of doing what is best in life for the benefit of others rather than for themselves, live on to be a source of inspiration to those around them for many, many years of a long and physically active life, even though sometimes they may run into the rule that whom the Lord loves he chastens, and they may have had many trials.

The Scriptural promises made over and over again were that the years of those who should keep His word should be long in the land. That promise has been fulfilled so often as to make it a commonplace. Three hundred years ago Shakespeare summed up at least the physical effects of keeping the law when he had old Adam say in "As You Like It":

"Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty; For in my youth I never did apply Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood; Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo The means of weakness and debility; Therefore my age is as a lusty winter.

Frosty, but kindly. Let me go with you: I'll do the service of a younger man In all your business and necessities."

{306}

CHAPTER XVIII

THE BIBLE AND HEALTH

From the very earliest times religious legislation has proved an extremely important factor for health. The book of Leviticus, one of the very oldest religious documents that we have, contains a sanitary code which is a marvel of completeness in its prescriptions for the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease. It anticipates most of the modern discoveries in this matter and the faithful keeping of its regulations has made the Jew the powerful personal factor that he has been so often in history, notwithstanding the fact that he belonged to a despised subject race. The orthodox Jew has kept his health in spite of the unfavorable conditions in which he was placed much better on the average than the Gentiles around him, and it is for that reason that his nation has been preserved. It would have seemed almost impossible for a people treated so badly as they were, crowded into unhealthy ghettos, often in the lowest and most insanitary parts of the towns, with no municipal care exercised for their health--except when it was feared that epidemics might spread from them to the Gentiles---to have maintained themselves for all these centuries; but they have not only survived but have been the most vigorous of people, at all times full of initiative and readiness to work far beyond the average of humanity.

{307}

The sanitary code of the Jewish people which is contained in the Old Testament is one of the greatest triumphs of sanitary legislation that the world has ever known. Doctor Alexander Rattray, in his volumes on "Divine Hygiene, Sanitary Science and Sanitarians of the Sacred Scriptures and Mosaic Code", [Footnote 17] has brought this out very clearly. The Scriptural motto of his work, "That Thy way might be known upon earth; Thy saving health among all nations", is an excellent text for what he has to say. With regard to the sanitary code of the Hebrews, as compared with other ancient documents in sanitation. Doctor Rattray says:

[Footnote 17: London, 1903.]

"Indeed, contrasted with the teachings of modern times, the comprehensiveness and sufficiency of the rules and cardinal points comprised in the Hebrew Sanitary Code, primitive in time but not in practice; ancient, but not antiquated and obsolete; comprising a treasure of infallible truth, which is the admiration of all experts; and altogether so remarkable as to be comparable to, if indeed they do not surpass both in literary style and professional excellence, extracts from the best modern works on hygiene. So that savants, notwithstanding their increased anatomical and physiological knowledge, the accumulation of ages and the result of modern enlightenment and civilization, bringing with them vastly improved facilities for medical study, professional experience in hospitals and communities, may still quote his model work with approval; sit with advantage at the feet of the Jewish sage; and learn in language as concise and forcible as that of the best modern thinkers, not only the great base facts, but even many of the less important minutiae of the art and science which they {308} study; if they would not continue to despise this authority because he is a Hebrew; ignore his work because it is Asiatic; slight the book in which it is found because it is not a rare, costly and abstruse volume; spurn instruction on a scientific subject because it comes from a Biblical source; and neglect the ready-made and divinely inspired code because it is ancient and a non-professional publication."

The question of the place that this health legislation of the Bible has in medical history is worth noting, for it makes very clear that it was no mere human development but something divine. Doctor Rattray said:

"Moses was no doubt learned in the medicine and surgery of that era, and could at least have taught his old Egyptian teachers, both theoretically and practically, especially in sanitary matters, a science of which they knew little, as the germ thought of preventive medicine had not then been begotten. But it was not to be his role to indoctrinate the Jews and Mankind in the least important sanatory or healing branch of medicine, but rather to initiate its higher and most philosophical department, the sanitary or disease preventing.

And to shew both by precept and practice that this is the most philosophic and wisest policy to pursue regarding physical health, as it also is in moral, social and spiritual matters. Part of his beneficent and Divinely inspired mission was to inculcate in those early days the lesson popularly taught in modern times by the trite yet true proverb, 'prevention is better than cure': and to illustrate it on the Israelites; to shew that its scope is not only of private but of national, nay racial, import; and applicable not only to his day, but all-time: although grievously neglected in past ages even by medical men. From its {309} Biblical study does not medical science thereby appear in a new light, and come in the garb of one of the most incontrovertible aids to human faith in the veracity of Holy Writ; the truth of Scripture as the inspired word of the Almighty; God's medical message to Man, sent in His own method, at His own time, and by servants of His own choosing?

"The Sinaitic or so-called 'Mosaic' code and its hygienic sub-code, more ancient by five or six hundred years than Esculapius and the earliest human medical records, was not written and interpolated by any modern or medieval medical sage, but is as Moses says, an emanation of his era. And yet, as he himself affirms, it was not his conception, but strictly and entirely Divine in elaboration, codification, and delivery to humanity. Its true Author and Deviser was Jehovah, and Moses merely its earthly recipient, editor and human expounder and applier. For this most important educational information we are indebted to God's Holy Bible, and to that alone.

What was the supernal object of the Code? It was humanitarian and tuitional."

The English physician discusses the origin of this code of laws and traces it to divine interposition:

"Viewed apart from its source, the Hebrew Health Code is an anachronism. And it must be evident that Moses was not a semi-barbarous Jew, but either a secularly scientific or an inspired man. And if we cannot accept the former hypothesis, and think it unlikely that imparted information and unaided intellect could have originated this consummate production; then we must avow the latter conviction, that he was truly 'a man of God.' But was the sanitary code that goes by his name, or styled the 'Sinaitic', his conception or not? This {310} question Moses himself answers indirectly and often; and takes no credit for but disclaims it. Assuredly Moses was not only a man of science and the foremost sanitarian of his own or any other age; but also a man gifted by his Maker with the faculty to discover and appreciate not only the great fundamental facts and elements, but also many of the more important minutiae of private, public, and national sanitation. Still he takes no credit for the sanitary utterances of the Pentateuch or even says or hints at their being partly, chiefly or wholly self-generated; and his own unaided creation; or that we are purely indebted for them to the genius of their practical expounder. Over and over again he insists and reiterates that they are solely heaven-sent and of Divine origin.

Nay, more, what he says appears to suggest that his sanitary code was a premeditated and authoritative emanation, which in its elaboration probably occupied more years than any work that has since been handed down to posterity. In early times medical treatises were more slowly elaborated than now; and swayed only by the double patriotism of zeal for his Master and loyalty to his people, Moses had no need to give hasty and incomplete work to the world. In the desert he would have ample time to write his book of the law and the early story of Man and the Earth leisurely. From the Holy Bible alone we glean the great base facts about the Mosaic Law and its Hygienic portion. Here we learn, and by Moses' own handwriting, that he was not their author, but Jehovah Himself; that Moses only gave or wrote the law as averred by the Saviour (John, vii. 19); therefore, that it is Divine and inspired. Moses was merely its earthly recipient and transcriber and applicant. This great fact practically {311} attested by over two millions of Hebrews, who heard the Voice of God delivering the Decalogue at Sinai, materially enhances the value of the bequest, as its supernal nature and origin attests its truth and infallibility. This great honour reserved for Moses, and the culminating fact in his earth history, stamps his character and place in history. Taught by the Divinity as no other man has yet been, Moses thus became Earth's greatest sanitarian and the Deity's ambassador and mouthpiece to Man in sanitary as in many other matters. What Moses wrote was revealed.

He penned as he was inspired and wrote what Jehovah dictated in the Holy of Holies. Moses himself attests this, and thus wholly disclaims the authorship. Chapter after chapter begins thus, 'And the Lord said' (Leviticus, xvii). And thus the Hebrew leader and sage, as has been recorded by his successor Joshua, himself 'full of the spirit of wisdom' (Deuteronomy, xxxiv. 9), fully deserves this record, 'there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses whom the Lord knew face to face' (Deuteronomy, xxxiv. 10-11)."

The distinction between the meats allowed to the Hebrews and those not allowed remains down to the present day an extremely valuable canon of preventive medicine. The carnivorous animals were not to be eaten and were declared unclean. They are, as modern science has abundantly shown, much more likely to be the subject of parasites of various kinds than are the herbivorous animals. Any animal that died of itself or had been torn by beasts was not to be eaten, and this was an extremely wise provision, for those that had died were very likely to be the subject of serious disease, while those torn by wild animals, if they did not perish at once were likely to have pyemia or septicemia set in in their wounds, {312} while if they had been killed at once and their bodies had been exposed for any length of time in the open air, they were likely to become the subject of serious putrefactive changes from the growth of bacteria in them. Any of these processes were likely to make the meat toxic, and the one safeguard was prohibition of their consumption. The Hebrews were not allowed to take the blood of animals, hence the necessity for having cattle butchered in their own way so that it might be _kosher_, and it is interesting to realize that this prohibition probably meant much for the prevention of disease. Meat that is well drained of blood keeps longer than that which contains the tissue fluids, and it has come to be felt that the protection of the Hebrews to a considerable extent against tuberculosis, so that their death rate from this disease is much lower than that of other races living under similar circumstances, is perhaps due to their abstinence from blood according to their law. They were forbidden to eat many of the fats, and this was hygienic in general, for the fat is a sluggish tissue and may contain parasites; but above all this was important for preventing the Hebrews from eating such an amount of fat as would make them obese and sluggish. The orthodox Jews of the present time who fail to keep this prohibition as to fat are weighted down with a load of surplus fatty tissue that takes away from their activity and shortens their lives.

Obesity has certain relations directly with diabetes which also makes this fat prohibition of significance, and as the Jew is probably more subject to diabetes than most of those living in similar circumstances there is here another index of the value of this Mosaic law which prevented pathological tendencies of several kinds that now make themselves manifest.

{313}

The greatest weight was placed upon keeping food materials covered from the air, and the use of liquids kept in vessels that were uncovered is forbidden, as is likewise the eating of fruit with open moist cracks. It has often been said in modern times that the paring of fruits, when unbroken, constitutes the best possible safeguard against spoiling, and many have the feeling that this fact was discovered or its significance properly recognized only since we have been studying fermentation and putrefaction. It was known long ago, however. It was recognized also that food materials should not be handled except with the greatest precautions and that those who prepared them should practice careful cleansing. These regulations undoubtedly had much to do with the prevention of the spread of the infectious diseases. We have learned in recent years that cooks have had much to do with the spread of the intestinal infections, and we now recognize the need of the meticulous precautions on which Moses insisted. The place of the hands in conveying disease was emphasized very much, as for instance by Jewish writers who insisted on the rule that coins should never be placed in the mouth because they had been handled by so many people.

We have now come to appreciate this thoroughly, after having suspected for some time that the hands have more to do with the conveyance of contagion in many diseases than almost any other factor. A series of experiments made upon young sailors in the United States service after the Armistice was signed and when the "flu" was at its height demonstrated almost beyond doubt that influenza cannot be conveyed by breathing or coughing into the faces of others, nor in any way through the air. Most army surgeons came to the {314} conclusion, therefore, that the mode of conveyance of the disease was by the hands, which in handling food and in touching the mouth and nose transmitted infectious material which had been gathered in various ways. It is interesting then to realize that the Jewish law insisted on careful cleansing of the hands before eating and on not touching the mouth or nose before the hands were washed in the morning, and that the Talmudic writings emphasized these regulations as regards the cleansing of the hands. They required that the finger nails, when pared, should be burnt. Some of the Talmudists suggested that if water could not be obtained gloves should be worn while eating, which would recall the use of surgical gloves in modern times, for the surgeons learned long since that the hands were by far the most dangerous media for the transmission of infection.

Some years ago Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson, one of the most distinguished of the English physicians of the latter half of the nineteenth century, pointed out that the records showed a very marked difference in the health and death rate of the Jews living in various cities of Great Britain as compared to their Gentile neighbors, and always in favor of the Jews. Other statistics gathered later in the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth emphasize the fact that there is manifestly something which enables the Jew to resist disease and maintain health under circumstances where the people around him suffer much more severely than he does. For instance, in Manchester the average annual death rate for three years in the two Jewish districts was over eight in one and over nine in the other below the death rate per thousand of the whole city. The two Jewish districts are among the worst slums of Manchester, yet {315} not only do they exhibit a much lower death rate, but the morbidity statistics show that there is less sickness among the Jews from all the serious infectious diseases than among the Gentiles. They had a higher morbidity rate than all the other parts of the city for erysipelas, pyemia, and puerperal fever, showing that they were subjected to the influence of dirt and septic contagion, but in everything else they were much lower in the sickness rate than their neighbors. They had only about one half as many premature births, their children suffered from only half as many convulsions and scarcely more than half as much from diarrhea and dysentery.

The children in the Jewish districts proved to be particularly capable of resisting disease and their death rate is distinctly lower. The diarrheic diseases of childhood are practically all due to improper feeding, and the saving of children's lives in the unsanitary Jewish districts where poverty stalks abroad so openly is due to the more healthy feeding of the infants, but above all to the mother's very careful care of them. The Jewish mother is, by age-long tradition, an absolutely unselfish caretaker of her children. When they are ailing her devotion is constant, and nothing is too much for her to do. No wonder that she saves more of her children than the Gentile mothers around her. It is because of the presence of the Jewish mothers in New York and Boston that our Boards of Health have come upon the startling discovery that the foreign-born mother in this country raises one in seven more of her children than does the native-born mother. The reason, of course, for this is maternal devotion and readiness to sacrifice herself in any and every way for the sake of her children.

At least twice as many of these foreign mothers--and among {316} these of course every orthodox Jewish mother who can possibly do it--nurse their children, and that is by far the most important factor in securing the survival of children beyond the first year.

Chapter end

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