We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chuyos for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Forgive someone you know who is sick if you feel any ill will towards them.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #51
בקור חולים - BIKUR CHOLIM VISITING THE SICK
One of the main components of the mitzva of bikur cholim is tefilla, to daven to HaShem on behalf of the choleh. Whoever visits the sick and doesn’t pray for HaShem to have mercy on the patient has not fulfilled the mitzva properly.
For this reason we are advised not to visit the choleh during the first three hours of the day, when he usually looks and feels better, because, seeing how well he appears, we might not pray as intensely for him, nor should we visit him during the last few hours of the day, when he is feeling at his worst, since upon seeing his worrisome condition we might give up and not pray for him at all.
These time constraints are not iron-clad. In fact, some authorities say that these guidelines are suggested purely for practical reasons, since visiting the patient at these times is likely to interfere with the daily care of the patient, which is usually carried out at these hours. Therefore, if a visitor has a limiting time schedule, or has to deal with a hospital’s strict visiting hours, making it difficult for him to visit during the appropriate times, he is certainly better off visiting at other hours as opposed to not performing the mitzva at all.
Praying for the patient in his presence is of special value for two reasons. Firstly, when you see his suffering you are likely to daven with greater kavana. Secondly, as we mentioned, the Shechina rests near the bed of the choleh, therefore, prayers uttered there are more effective. (Mishpetei Hashalom 14:8, 11)
One should not make his prayers apparent to the patient, who may interpret the act as an indication of the severity of his illness. Rather, one should pause momentarily while in conversation or while performing some task for the patient, and speak quietly from the heart, saying: "Hashem, please heal him/her.
When praying at the bedside of the sick, one can pray in any language. Because the Divine Presence rests at the head of the sick person, the words of prayer are being received directly. When one prays in another location, one should pray in Hebrew. Although Hashem obviously understands every language, the holy language fuels the prayers' ascent. Because the words are not being uttered directly before the Divine Presences, they are in most cases being conveyed by Hashem's messengers to the Heavens, a task more efficiently fulfilled when the prayers are in Hebrew. In any case, the sincerity of the prayer is more important than the language. A hollow prayer in Hebrew will not ascend faster than a heartfelt prayer in one's native tongue.
Prayers for the sick should not focus exclusively on the patient one is visiting. Instead, one prays for the recovery of the specific person among all the sick people of Israel. This turns the private prayer into a petition for the benefit of the entire nation, and gives a vastly greater impact. It harnesses the merit of all those who are ill in Jewish communities throughout the world, and casts their lot together, creating an infinitely more powerful draw upon Hashem's stores of mercy."
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver and Loving Kindness by Chana Nestlebaum)
Story: (based on a true story)
It was hard to see Grandpa looking so pale and fatigued when we entered his room in the hospital. With the beeping machines and scary alarms and lights, it appeared that he was in a serious predicament. I had flown in with my children from Canada to cheer him up but he seemed to have taken a turn for the worse while we were on the flight. I spoke briefly with the night shift to inquire about how he had been in the past 24 hours. She hesitated and then expressed that he had slept peacefully the night before but hadn’t eaten or spoken in a while and the doctors had just told her that his hours were numbered. I felt a pit develop in my throat.
This was Grandpa who had brought me to the candy store with a lunch bag and shouted “Filler Up!!” This was Grandpa who would tell me about the money tree he had growing in his backyard. This was also Grandpa who wasn’t fortunate enough to have the Torah education that I had been privileged to have as a child. Grandpa had always been a happy man, even after losing Grandma suddenly many years before. He spent many Shabbosos at our house in the beginning of my marriage but my husband’s work had brought us to a different country so time with Grandpa was limited yet precious. On the rare occasion that we were able to fly out to see him, it was wonderful and exciting to see my children enjoy the wonderful stories and life lessons that Grandpa had always loved to share with us. To have seen yet another generation benefit from his charm and wit was so heartwarming which made it even the more difficult to see him like this. Grandpa always had trouble pronouncing our children’s names and never really was interested in talking about anything spiritual but something miraculous happened during that hospital visit.
We saw from the situation that Grandpa really needed our tefilos immediately but didn’t feel comfortable sitting with a sefer tehillim at his bedside davening. Maybe he would feel our pain over seeing how sick he was and this would cause him to worry in some way. Instead we decided to sing any song we knew from tehillim or any song referring to refua. I never saw my children sing with such sweet kavana before. Their songs were their tefilla for him and Grandpa’s neshama was touched. After about 10 minutes of our singing, he opened his eyes, smiled and started to say the names of each one of my children. The children couldn’t believe the power of their tefilla. Grandpa didn’t say much but we could tell that he understood what we were saying. This lasted a few more days until we had to take our return flight home. Grandpa left this world while we were on the flight home but we all felt confident that our tefillos and brachos for good health were what kept him with us for those few extra days.
Discussion Question Options:
When we hear about sick people, how do we react and how do we train our children to respond?
How does one decide whether to drop everything she’s doing to daven for a choleh or to get around to it when she davens next?
Have you ever experienced praying at the bedside of a sick person and witnessing miraculous recoveries?
Stretch of the Week:
Decide to pray or do something in the merit of a sick person.