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One of the most fascinating medical techniques developed in recent years is auriculotherapy. Auriculotherapy is based on the concept that the human ear is a microsystem of the entire body, as represented on the auricle, the outer portion of the ear. Ailments across the entire body are assumed to be treatable, solely by stimulating the surface of the ear.
During a session, the practitioner of auricular healing diagnoses the source of disease by examining the patient’s ear, and treats the disease by inserting needles into the appropriate parts of the ear. This impressive technique is used for treating various conditions – from muscle and skeletal pain to asthma, allergies, and cigarette addiction.
Historically, the person who most convincingly proved a connection between the parts of the ear and the parts of the human body was Dr. Paul Nogier (1908-1996) of Lyons, France. In 1951, Dr. Nogier began to take interest in the connection between the ear and the rest of the body after he learned about a woman named Madame Bronne, who was able to rid her patients of lower back pain by creating small, repeated burns on specific points of their outer ears. (Today, auriculotherapists use electrical stimulation, needles, laser, or massage). Dr. Nogier investigated this matter extensively, testing every portion of the outer ear, and ultimately coming to the conclusion that each part of the body is linked to a specific point on the ear. This connection is so sensitive that when a certain part of the body falls sick, treatment of the ear at the corresponding point can restore a person to health.
Though he is given credit for it, Dr. Nogier was not the first person to make this remarkable discovery. Amazingly, our Torah sages were well aware of these truths thousands of years before Dr. Nogier!
The Ear as the Gateway to the Body
The Midrash Rabbah speaks of the centrality of the ear to the rest of the body and, at the same time, reveals the spiritual basis of this relationship. First, the Midrash discusses the spiritual importance of the ear:
Our Rabbis said: Do you wish not to have pains in your ear nor in any of your limbs? Then bend your ear to Torah, and you will inherit life, as it is said: “Incline your ear and go to Me; listen, and give life to your soul.”(Midrash Rabbah Devarim, Parshah 10)
Further on, the Midrash is more explicit in describing the centrality of the ear to the other organs. Here are the words of our Sages from Midrash Rabbah:
“The ear is to the body like a clothesline is to clothes: Just as all of the clothes hanging on a line receive a nice smell from incense burning beneath them, so a person’s two hundred and forty-eight limbs depend upon the ear, which gives them all life.”
Just as a clothesline scents all the clothing hanging upon it, so too, the ear provides a means for treating and healing all of the parts of the human body. As we’ve learned, this spiritual relationship has a physical parallel as well, a connection utilized by auricular healing.
Interestingly, the Hebrew word for ear, “ozen” (spelled alef, zayin, nun sopheet), has the same three-letter root as the word “izun”, meaning balance. Physiologically, too, man’s ability to maintain physical balance depends upon the health of the malleus, incus, and stapes – the three miniscule bones located in the inner ear. If you think that this is just a coincidence – think again:
Science has only discovered in the last few centuries that the human ear serves two functions – hearing and balance. Hearing occurs in the outer and middle ear, whereas our balance is a function of the inner ear. The ear’s first role was always known, but not so for the second role, balance. How was it established so early on that the ear should be called an ozen, a name that indicates its role in balance, izun? Why wasn’t it called something that hints to the capacity to hear, rather than balance?
Various verses in the Torah mention the ear, for example in Shemot 29:20: “You shall slaughter the ram, take [some] of its blood, and put it upon the cartilage of Aaron’s right ear and upon the cartilage of Aaron’s sons’ right ears.” Additionally, anyone familiar with Hebrew literature knows that the usage of the word moznaim for balance scales is very ancient; in fact, it predates the discovery of the ear’s mechanism of balance by thousands of years. As it is written in Vayikra ( 19:36): “You shall have true scales and true weights, a true eifah, and a truehin. I am the L-rd, your Gd, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
We learn from these pesukim that the reason the Torah calls the organ of hearing ‘ozen’ is because of the mechanism of balance (izun) located within it!
Compilation of writings from Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson, Rabbi Adi Cohen,
and Rabbi Zamir Cohen.
Science has only discovered in the last few centuries that the human ear serves two functions – hearing and balance.
Auriculotherapy is a health care procedure in which stimulation of the auricle of the external ear is utilized to alleviate health conditions in other parts of the body.
A microcosm of the human body exists in the ear – each part of the ear corresponds to a different part of the body.