Visit the Sick
Visit The Sick

"These are the things that have no equal, where one might enjoy the fruits of them in this world, but the true reward is stored up for the world to come!  [Among them are] doing acts of loving kindness (g’milut chasadim), and visiting the sick (bikkur cholim)" -Morning Prayer, based upon Mishna Peah 1:1, and Shabbat 127a  

As this Talmudic passage stresses, the mitzvah of bikkur cholim is central to Jewish  tradition.  In fact, it is considered an obligation without limit.  Therefore, we must visit the sick to help uplift those who are ill.

Visiting the sick ensures that the ill-stricken have their needs met and prayers are recited on their behalf.  Prayer is an integral part of the healing process, so much so that that there are special prayers said while one is bedside.  Perhaps the most famous of prayers is that of the Mi Sheberach, popularized by Debbie Friedman’s heartfelt melody.  Another well-known phrase that is often said and sung is “El nah, r’fah nah lah!,” the words Moses said when he turned to G-d and prayed for his sister, “O G-d, pray heal her!” (Numbers 12:13).

This value is essential because people need to feel connected to the community especially when they are ill or homebound.  Bringing the community to the bedside lifts the spirits of those who may feel forgotten.  Social contact and support positively influences those needing and receiving comfort.  Visiting and caring for the sick help build community and character.  And, most importantly, we are acting in a godly way when we visit.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Why do you think that bikkur cholim is an obligation without limit in Jewish tradition?

2. What would a visit to the sick be for you, and what would you do to help uplift a person’s spirits?

3. Why do you think that prayer is such a powerful tool for those who are in need of healing?

4. How can you incorporate the value of bikkur cholim within your classroom?

Help sick people feel better by visiting them or by sending them something special.


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