Mitzvah of the Week:
Visiting the sick
One of the lessons of the Rabbis is to “follow God.” (Talmud, Sotah 14a) What does this mean? How can we, mere mortals, follow God? Surely we are limited, but God provides us by example of values and qualities. One of those examples is bikur cholim, visiting the sick. In Genesis 18:1, we read that God visited Abraham. At the end of the previous chapter, Abraham performed the mitzvah of circumsion, so the interpretation of this visit is that God’s visit came as Abraham was recovering. This is the traditional explanation of the mitzvah of visiting the sick: just as God visited the sick, so too should we visit the sick.
There are of course many ways to fulfill this mitzvah. Often people who are sick do not want visitors, and our visits should be guided by the desires of those who are sick. Expressions of concern by phone, letter – even an old fashioned get well card! – are ways to perform this mitzvah. Our bnai mitzvah class is creating a “thinking about you” gift basket for one of our congregants. We have several congregants who would benefit from a visit or attention and even if you don’t know them, your attention would be greatly appreciated. If you would like the name of a person(s) to visit or send a card, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will share an appropriate name or two with you.
In addition, when we are ill, we receive comfort knowing we are in someone’s prayers. You don’t need to be sitting in a temple service to whisper these words of prayer to the Holy One of blessings:
May the One who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, bless and heal ____________. May the Holy One, blessed be God, be merciful and strengthen and heal him/her. Grant him/her a complete and speedy recovery—healing of body and healing of soul. And let us say: Amen.
This week’s mitzvah is to perform the act of bikur cholim. And if you are a person in need of healing of body or soul, and I don’t know, please call (or ask someone to call) so that you can be included in our prayers of healing.
May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace.
Rabbi Debbie Israel