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 #50
בקור חולים - BIKUR CHOLIM VISITING THE SICK
When the choleh suffers from a contagious illness that poses a definite danger to visitors, only those who are absolutely needed at his side should visit him. Even where there is only a possible danger, it is not wise to take the risk and visit, since, according to the rule we learned in the previous chapter, our own life takes precedence. Therefore, even the possible personal risk involved in exposing ourselves to the illness outweighs the definite danger in which the choleh finds himself.
However, in the case of a slightly contagious, mild illness, we should not rush to excuse ourselves from visiting the choleh. Nor should we shed our responsibilities to the sick by exaggerating every imaginary distant possibility of catching his illness. Each case should be considered rationally, on an individual basis, depending on the factors involved in the illness and the physical vulnerability of the visitor.
Some poskim say that you should not visit a person with whom you are at odds, so as not to give him the impression that you are happy to see him suffer. However, this depends on the individuals involved and the nature of their hostilities. Sometimes the opposite is true; if handled properly, a well-intentioned visit could be an excellent opportunity to settle differences. If in doubt, we can first send a messenger to the sick person to say that we would like to visit him and “make peace,” and then make the visit only upon receiving the choleh’s agreement.
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Story: (based on a true story)
The pink elephant had been let out. As we all sat around the dining room table offering words of advice and blessing to Rivka at her bridal shower, tears started streaming down our eyes while Shonnie spoke. Shonnie’s message expressed a very deep and private thought. It was apparent that Shonnie had a certain epiphany which had lead her to come full circle in self-awareness.
Shonnie was the type of person who most would describe as an “in your face” type. If an opinion was needed on any topic, you could be sure that Shonnie was full of them. She tended to lack social appropriateness and never could quite figure out where to draw the line between private thoughts and public statements. She had developed a reputation of being quite annoying and only the super kind types were able to handle being around her. I, for one did not fall into that category. Her forceful way of pushing herself into my life and business drove me to “cross the street”, so to speak, when I saw her coming. Many people had attempted to get across the message that she was too strong but to no avail. Rivka though was different. Rivka is the type that doesn’t take things personally and is extremely talented in recognizing everyone and every interaction as a tailor made package delivered for her growth, especially when it comes in the form of aggravating people. Rivka is able to overcome what for me would be impossible.
Shonnie had recently been hospitalized for major surgery. She was very uncomfortable and lonely and let people know. With much hemming and hawing, a few brave souls made the trek out to the hospital to be m’vaker cholah, to visit Shonnie while she was recuperating. Most had given the appropriate flowers or box of chocolate and stayed for a short time to shmooze. Rivka however had done more and this was exactly what Shonnie was speaking about at the shower.
“I can’t tell you how Rivka made me feel during my recent hospital stay.” Shonnie expressed with a slight hesitation before continuing. “I am quite aware that I can be a difficult person to get along with. I may lack boundaries and I know that this puts people off.” Tears started to well up in her eyes.
“While I was sick, I realized that I didn’t have many visitors and I spent time thinking about why that was so. When Rivka came by, she sat and spoke with me, at a time when I was overwhelmed with health concerns and showed me with love and care what I had been doing to others without realizing. In a nonjudgmental way, she had done so much more for me than just visit a sick person. She had taken the time to really be there for me and love me in a way that I don’t even think I loved myself.” With those final words, the room was left speechless and all eyes turned to Rivka who shrugged her shoulders and smiled.
Sometimes while in an empathetic mood, we are at a better advantage to deal with issues that otherwise would feel like huge mountains. Rivka took the time, when Shonnie was quite vulnerable and used it wisely. Shonnie was open and since then we’ve all started to enjoy and appreciate her straightforwardness and strength.
Discussion Question Options:
What should our attitude be when we visit someone who is sick and they show no appreciation for our reaching out to them?
How would you conduct yourself if you needed to visit someone with whom you have been in an unsettled argument?
Is it better to ignore someone who is sick whom you don’t have a good relationship with or work to better the situation?
Stretch of the Week:
Forgive someone you know who is sick if you feel any ill will towards them.