Last week’s stretch of the week was: Be extra generous this week with lending something that you own to someone else. If there is someone who wouldn’t lend you something and they want to borrow something of yours this week, make sure to lend it to them.
Visiting The Sick
One of the ways we emulate HaShem is by visiting the sick, as HaShem Himself visited Avraham Avinu. When we visit the sick, attend to their needs and daven for their recovery, we fulfill both of the positive mitzvos of V’ahavta L’Rayacha Kamocha – ‘Love Your Fellow Jew as You Love Yourself’ and Vehalachta Bidrachav – ‘You should walk in His ways’. In a case where the visit is crucial and life-saving, we also fulfill the mitzvos of V'chai Achicha Imach – ‘saving a life’; VaHashaivosa -- ‘returning a lost object’, which according to Chazal, includes saving someone’s life; and our Torah tells us that we must 'not stand by while someone's blood is being shed', Lo Sa’amod Al Dam Ray’acha, Vayikra 19:16.
Mean Mrs. Cohen
“You missed,” Ruthy yelled to Sara as they played a game of dodge ball out in the school courtyard at recess. The sounds of girls giggling and balls bouncing filled the spring air. Ruthy ran after the ball as it rolled under the porch of an apartment next door. She looked up to see an old lady with both hands on her hips.
“You woke me up!” she screamed at the top of her lungs from her porch. “Awful.”
Ruthy bent down to pick up the red ball, but she couldn’t look at the woman in the eyes. She was too scared. Every day at recess, Ruthy noticed that same woman out on her porch waving her fist or yelling. She never understood why. This was the first time that she got close enough to hear her words.
Later that day, Ruthy told Sara about her encounter.
“Do you think it’s our fault?” Ruthy bit her lip.
“Nah, she’s got some issues. Her name is Mrs. Cohen; just stay out of her way.” Sara shook her head. “We can play on the other side of the lot next recess if you’d like.” And that’s what the girls did for a few weeks.
Then one evening Sara called Ruthy with some news. “I heard that Mrs. Cohen--the old lady who lives next to our school--had a stroke.” Sara’s voice got louder on the phone. “She desperately needs visitors.”
“How do you know?” Ruthy asked.
“My mother knows her family through work.” She paused. “Apparently she doesn’t have friends, and her family wants visitors right away.”
“The Torah does say that visiting the sick is a big mitzva, and not visiting the sick is the same as spilling blood—serious stuff,” added Ruthy.
Sara asked, “When do you want to do it?”
The girls made up to visit Mrs. Cohen after school. Sara was excited, but Ruthy felt dizzy at the thought of seeing the mean old lady who had yelled at her. She pushed herself, knowing that it was a big mitzva .
When the girls arrived they were greeted by a nurse. “Mrs. Cohen would love to see you; she just doesn’t see or hear so well.”
“So maybe that’s why she yelled at us,” Ruthy said quietly to Sara.
The girls entered the room. “Who’s there?” the loud voice screamed at the girls. This time the yelling didn’t shake them up.
The girls introduced themselves. Mrs. Cohen’s lips stretched into a big smile.
“I haven’t had many visitors. I’m happy you’re here.” She took a deep breath. “Come hold my hand so I can talk to you.”
Mrs. Cohen held the girls hands and told them about her difficult life. She smiled as she spoke, and the girls felt so good about their visit. Mrs. Cohen invited them to visit her again.
On the way home Ruthy and Sara thought about their successful visit, and how they almost missed the opportunity to perform an important mitzva .
Story published in the Baltimore Jewish Times, January 3,2014.
Why is visiting the sick such an important mitzva ?
Why is not visiting the sick considered the same as spilling blood?
Stretch of the Week:
Visit one sick person this week who needs a visit. If you can’t arrange to get to a nursing home or hospital with someone, why not visit an elderly relative or a friend’s grandmother, for example who is more frail and homebound.