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Thursday, Mar-Cheshvan 18, 5784 / November 2, 2023


This week’s Parsha, Vayeira, begins, "And G-d appeared to him [Abraham] while he sat at the door of the tent in the heat of the day." 


Why did G-d appear to Abraham? Our sages say that the mitzvot which G-d commanded us to observe, He also observes.  G-d's visit to Abraham took place on the third day after Abraham was circumcised.  G-d's "appearance" to Abraham at this time was for the sole purpose of performing the mitzvah of "visiting the sick" - as Abraham was recuperating from his circumcision three days earlier.


The mitzvah of visiting the sick is called "Bikur Cholim" and is a very important mitzvah.  Not only does it help the patient psychologically, it also helps him get well physically.  Our sages say that by visiting the sick, “we take away 1/60th of the patient’s illness."


The Midrash tells the following:  A student of the Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva became ill.  No one had visited him, and his illness became worse.  Rabbi Akiva heard this and visited the student.  Rabbi Akiva swept and cleaned the floor and did whatever else the student needed.  As a result of Rabbi Akiva's efforts, the student became well again.  Rabbi Akiva then told his students, "Whoever doesn't visit the sick it is as if they have spilled their blood!"


The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) states:"The main reasons for visiting the sick are to see if there is anything they need and to pray for their health.  If one visits a sick person and does not pray for him or her, one did not fulfill his duty.  When one is praying for a sick person he should ask G-d to heal him amongst all the other sick of Israel, for one's prayer is more readily accepted when it invokes the collective merits of the many."


Rabbi Dovid of Lelov was known for his kindness and great love for his fellow man and as a result was respected by everyone.  Once his son became gravely ill.  The people of the city made every effort to help in any way they could.  They brought the best doctors, they gathered in the synagogue to recite special prayers, and many even fasted for the welfare of the child.  In the end, his son became well.


When the people came to congratulate Rabbi Dovid, they found him crying.  "Why are you crying at this time," they asked.  "You should be happy and rejoice in the wonderful news of your son's recuperation?"


Rabbi Dovid replied, "I'm crying because I now realized that I'm lacking in the mitzvah of love your fellow like yourself.  When my child was sick, we all did whatever we could for him, yet, when another person's child is sick, I don't feel the same.  As long as my concern for my child is more than for another Jewish child, I am lacking in my performance of this mitzvah."


May our prayers for the welfare of the sick and captives from Israel be answered very soon. May they all return and may all the sick be completely healed. May there be Shalom-peace in the Holy Land. Amen.