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Sunday, 5 July 2015

How often should you visit your sick friend?

Daf Yomi Nedarim 39


Your friend is in the hospital.  You went to visit him yesterday and you’re not sure whether you should go and see him again today. 
‘I don’t want to be a burden,’ you say to yourself, ‘I should give him his space.’
How frequently should you visit someone who is ill?  How often should you call them?

Beraisa: The mitzvah of visiting the sick has no limit. 
What does that mean?  Rav Yosef assumed that it means that there is no limit to the reward one receives.
Abaye challenged him: And is there a limit to the reward you get for any mitzvah?  Have we not learned, ‘Be as careful with a light mitzvah as with a strict mitzvah, for you never know the true reward of mitzvos?’  Rather, the meaning of the Beraisa is that even a great person is required to visit a lesser individual.
Rava explained the meaning as follows: You must continue to go back and visit the ill person even if you end up going one hundred times a day!

“The mitzvah of visiting the sick has no limit!”  Don’t hesitate to visit your friend again!  The Talmud says that every time you visit you remove one sixtieth of his illness!  

You might be busy with your affairs, but your friend is lying in the hospital with not a lot to do.  He would certainly appreciate a visit.  Not only does it remove a small portion of his illness, it lifts his spirits and at the very least, passes some of the long hours he must lie there with nothing to do.  Every visit is precious, even if you return a hundred times a day!

And sometimes you think, ‘Should I call?  I already called the family yesterday to see how he’s doing.  They probably don’t want to hear from me again.’  Not so.  Their sick family member is constantly on their minds.  When you call, you demonstrate that you too have not forgotten.  That you too care enough to call regularly.  That you too are constantly thinking about your sick friend.


Mitzvos have no limit.  But especially the mitzvah of visiting the sick.  May you merit constantly being on G-d’s mind for limitless reward, because you are constantly thinking about others’ issues, never limiting yourself in your regularity of visitations and offers of assistance!