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Sunday, 5 July 2015

Does your neighbour need to know when illness strikes?

Daf Yomi Nedarim 40

Nelly was distraught.  The doctors had just found something on the x-rays and they would be starting treatment shortly. 
“Do I tell people, Rabbi?” she asked me, “I don’t want them to treat me differently and start feeling sorry for me all the time.  But then again, I’m going to be going through a lot with all the treatments and I won’t be able to keep up the busy schedule I’ve been known for.” 

On the first day when Rava took ill, he told them, ‘Don’t let anyone know,’ so as not to negatively impact his mazal (heavenly destiny). 
After that, he said to them, ‘Go out and announce it in the market!  Anybody who doesn’t like me will rejoice, and the Scripture states, “When your enemy falls, do not rejoice . . . lest Hashem turn his anger from him.”  And anyone who does like me will know to start praying for my recovery.”

It’s a tough decision whom to tell when illness strikes.  You have so much to deal with it as it is and on top of it all, you’re dealing with the stresses of who is in the inner circle.  Who should you be telling?  Who will be upset if they are not told?

Rava says: Don’t stress about it.  At the beginning, you don’t need to tell anyone.  You have every right to take your time to deal with it internally, before the world needs to know.  Rava wouldn’t tell anybody to begin with; it was a personal issue he was dealing with.

But once you are ready to tell people, let them pray for you.  Any extra mitzvah they perform on your behalf will help avert any unwanted decree.  And even if there are people out there who aren’t your friends and may be smirking, Rava teaches that they too are assisting in your recovery – when G-d sees them rejoicing, he turns the tables on them, removing the illness from you and giving it to them!

Your friends care for you more than you can imagine.  Your pain is their pain.  Let them be there for you.  Let them pray for your welfare and recovery.  May you merit only good health all the days of your life and praying for the recovery of those less fortunate, whether they be friend or foe!