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IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
A primer to visiting the sick

by Rabbi Shmuel Weiss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

In this week's Torah portion we learn of the mitzvah of bikur cholim, visiting the sick. How important is this mitzvah? What are the "do's" and "don't's" involved?

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In this week's Torah portion we learn of the mitzvah of bikur cholim, visiting the sick. How important is this mitzvah? What are the "do's" and "don't's" involved?

The Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law, considers visiting the sick one of the most important mitzvot in the Torah. The Shulchan Aruch teaches that visiting a sick individual actually removes one-sixtieth of the illness itself.

When visiting the ill, we should try to cheer him up, discussing only positive, upbeat topics. We should bring him tasty food to eat (when medically advised), and see that his room is tidy and neat, as this contributes to one's overall outlook and attitude. It is proper, even essential, to offer a prayer for the patient's recovery. (One may also pray for the doctor's success.)

There is no limit to the number of times one should visit the sick, but we should refrain from visiting if it will cause him discomfort or burden him. One should neither disturb the patient's rest or stay too long!

If one cannot personally visit an ill person, he should at least call by telephone (or e-mail). This, too, according to many rabinnic authorities, constitutes bikur cholim.

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Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Rana'ana, Israel. He is also the author of Shammes: Stories of Jewish Experience.

You are invited to read more Parshat Vayeira articles.

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