The Torah and Rabbis places great stress in the importance of helping our fellow man and accordingly there are a number of commandments in this area. Included amongst these are; visiting the sick, hospitality, helping a bride and groom get married, consoling mourners and burying the dead. In the next few weeks we will discuss these commandments in detail.
The Torah does not explicitly tell us that we must visit sick people, however one of the incidents described in the Torah teaches us the importance of visiting the sick; In Parshas Lech Lecha, Hashem commands Avraham Avinu1 to perform bris mila (circumcision) on himself – Avraham was 99 years old at that time. |He fulfilled Hashem’s command with great joy but understandably he was in a weak state in the days after the bris. The following Parsha, Vayeira begins with Avraham recovering from the bris. He receives a visit from a concerned onlooker… none other than Hashem! Hashem visits Avraham for no other reason than to show concern for his weak state. From here we see that Hashem visits the sick.
The question remains, how do we see from here that we should also visit the sick? The Torah tells us that we should go in the ways of Hashem. This means that we should strive to emulate the character traits and actions of Hashem. When the Torah shows describes Hashem’s actions it is telling us to teach how we too should act. Thus, since Hashem visits the sick we too should visit the sick.
There are a number of reasons for visiting the sick:
1. Providing him with his needs.
2. Showing that you care about him.
3. Praying for him in his presence.
In the coming weeks we will discuss the legal and philosophical aspects of this great command.
1‘Avinu’ means, ‘our father’.
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org