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Don't say anything, just visit

Friday, 18 November, 2016 - 8:59 am

 Do you find it hard to visit a friend who is severely ill, to wish them well and spend time with them?

Personally, I find it challenging to dig up the courage to face someone who is in extreme pain, facing fear of their future, and to know how best to address them. What is appropriate to say? What if I say the wrong thing? Is my presence really going to make any impact?

The Torah speaks very highly of the Mitzva of Bikkur Cholim (visiting the sick), yet it is clearly quite challenging for many.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeira, we learn of a strange encounter between G-d and Avraham. G-d had commanded Avraham to circumcise himself at the ripe old age of 99, which Avraham did, gladly and promptly. After 3 days of Avraham being in pain, the Torah relates;

“G-d appeared to him (Avraham) in the plains of Mamre, and he was sitting at the entrance of the tent when the day was hot”.

Immediately after this sentence, the Torah goes on to describe how Avraham lifts his eyes, notices the 3 angels, and runs to greet them. There is NO description at all of any conversation that took place between Avraham and G-d. G-d appears, and that’s it, then He is gone. No fanfare, no commandment, no discussion!!

The reason for this the Talmud suggests, is to teach us a beautiful lesson. G-d did not come to talk with Avraham, He came for the sole purpose of “visiting the sick” and to provide comfort. He showed up, Avraham recognized that G-d cared, and then G-d left without a word.

The visit did accomplish something significant though, as Avraham was clearly healed when G-d left, as it says that Avraham “runs” to greet the angels that he sees from a distance, showing us that the pain had disappeared.

The Talmud goes on to say that the profound lesson in this story is that visiting someone in emotional or physical pain does not need to involve solutions or even words of wisdom. The mere fact of  you taking the time to visit someone who needs support, and just showing up, even if they cannot talk with you, is enough to heal them!!

When the person who is ill sees that you visited, it shows them that they are cared about and that they matter, which emotionally gives them the strength, hope, and determination to fight more for their health. In addition, when you see the ill person in pain, you recognize that there is nothing you can do to heal this person, and that it is in G-d’s hands. This recognition will hopefully inspire you to pray on the sick person’s behalf, begging G-d to heal him/her.

Community prayer on behalf of the sick has been proven to heal, and this arousal of urgency to pray will no doubt help secure a positive outcome.

May we all share only good & happy news with each other, and anyone that needs our prayers for G-d’s healing should be blessed with a speedy recovery!!

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ezzy & Nechama Schusterman 

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