מִצְוָה לְבַקֵּר חוֹלִים. הַקְּרוֹבִים וְהַחֲבֵרִים נִכְנָסִים מִיָּד; וְהָרְחוֹקִים, אַחַר ג' יָמִים. וְאִם קָפַץ עָלָיו הַחֹלִי, אֵלּוּ וָאֵלּוּ נִכְנָסִים מִיָּד. (טוּר בְּקִצוּר מס' ת''ה לְהָרַמְבַּ''ן).
LAWS OF VISITING THE SICK; HEALING; THE APPROACH OF DEATH AND ONE IN A DYING CONDITION.
It is a religious duty to visit the sick.1Shab. 127a; B.M. 30b; B.K. 100a; Ned. 39b-40a; Sot. 14a. Relatives and friends2Who are intimate with him and are on an equal footing as relatives. may enter at once and strangers after three days. If the sickness overtakes him3Lit. ‘springs upon him.’ both may enter forthwith.4Tur in abridged form from T.H. — G. Y. Peah III, 9(17d); ibid. Git. VI, 7 (48a-b) ; Sem. de R. Ḥiyya (H) I, 1; also Sem. (H). Int. pp. 17-19 and cf. Ber. 55b; Yad, Ebel XIV, 5 and Kes. Mish. ibid. Strangers are not permitted to visit the sick person before three days elapse, for prior to this period their visit indicates that the patient’s luck is shaky and that he is designated a sick person. This, however, does not apply to relatives and intimate friends who are much closer to him. Hence, if the sickness overtakes him even strangers are permitted to visit him immediately — BaḤ. A Kohen is permitted to visit a sick person in a hospital, although it is quite likely that a corpse is present there. However, he should first make inquiries from the hospital authorities whether there is a corpse there or not. Where this is impossible to be determined, the Kohen may visit the patient in order to fulfil the religious duty of visiting the sick. The Kohen should not fear that there are sick people in the hospital who are in a dying condition, for we apply the principle that the majority of sick people recover — Resp. Teshurath Shai.
אֲפִלּוּ הַגָּדוֹל יֵלֵךְ לְבַקֵּר הַקָּטָן, וַאֲפִלּוּ כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים בַּיּוֹם, וַאֲפִלּוּ בֶּן גִּילוֹ. וְכָל הַמּוֹסִיף הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יַטְרִיחַ לוֹ. הַגָּה: יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים דְּשׂוֹנֵא יָכוֹל לֵילֵךְ לְבַקֵּר חוֹלֶה (מהרי''ל קצ''ז), וְלֹא נִרְאֶה לִי, אֶלָּא לֹא יְבַקֵּר חוֹלֶה, וְלֹא יְנַחֵם הָאָבֵל שֶׁהוּא שׂוֹנְאוֹ, שֶׁלֹּא יַחֲשֹׁב שֶׁשָּׂמֵחַ לְאֵידוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ לוֹ אֶלָּא צַעַר, כֵּן נִרְאֶה לִי (ש''ס פ' כ''ג).
Even a prominent person must visit a humble one;5Ned. 39b. even many times a day and even if the visitor is of his affinity.6Of the same age as the invalid. Thus Rashi. According to Asheri: ‘under the same planetary influence.’ ‘For a master said: ‘A man’s affinity takes away a sixtieth of his (the sick person’s) illness’ (Ned. ibid.; B.M. 30b). One who increases [his visits] is considered praiseworthy,7In accord with Raba’s dictum (Ned. ibid.), ‘Even a hundred times a day.’ provided he does not trouble him.8Ibid. The visitor should not come empty-handed — Sefer Yesh Noḥalin. Gloss: Some say that an enemy may visit a sick person.9Maharil s. 197 — G. However, this does not seem plausible to me; but he should not visit a sick person nor comfort a mourner whom he hates, so that [the latter] should not think that he rejoices at his misfortune, and thereby feel depressed.10One may, however, follow the funeral procession of his enemy since this is the end of every human and ‘rejoicing at one’s misfortune’ does not apply (BaḤ). But as to visiting the sick or offering comfort to a mourner, it depends upon the degree of enmity. — ShaK. One should therefore, use his judgment, especially if the sick person gives him permission to visit him — Sefer ha-Ḥayyim. Thus seems to me [to be the correct view].11San. 19a — G. also Me’iri ibid.
הַמְבַקֵּר אֶת הַחוֹלֶה, לֹא יֵשֵׁב עַל גַּבֵּי מִטָּה, וְלֹא עַל גַּבֵּי כִּסֵא, וְלֹא עַל גַּבֵּי סַפְסָל, אֶלָּא מִתְעַטֵּף וְיוֹשֵׁב לְפָנָיו, שֶׁהַשְּׁכִינָה לְמַעְלָה מֵרַאֲשׁוֹתָיו. הַגָּה: וְדַוְקָא כְּשֶׁהַחוֹלֶה שׁוֹכֵב עַל הָאָרֶץ, דְּהַיּוֹשֵׁב גָּבוֹהַּ מִמֶּנּוּ, אֲבָל כְּשֶׁשּׁוֹכֵב עַל הַמִּטָּה מֻתָּר לֵישֵׁב עַל כִּסֵּא וְסַפְסָל (בֵּית יוֹסֵף בְּשֵׁם הר''ן, וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין).
One who visits the sick may neither sit upon a bed, nor upon a chair, nor upon a stool, but must [reverently] wrap himself and sit in front of him [the invalid], for the Divine Presence is above the top-side of his bed.12For it is written, ‘The Lord supports him upon the bed of illness’ (PS. XLI, 4). Shab. 12b, and Tosaf. s.v. לא; Ned. 40a and RaN s.v. לא. Gloss: [This applies] only if the sick person lies on the ground so that he who sits [near him] will be on a higher level; but when he lies upon the bed, it is permissible [for the visitor] to sit on a chair or a stool.13B.Yos. citing RaN; Hag. Maim.; Tosaf. and Hag. Asheri — G. And thus is our accepted practice.14This means that it is permissible to sit on any side of the invalid’s bed as long as the visitor is not on a higher level. , however, Zohar Pinḥas 234b where it is stated that if the invalid is an average person בינוני one should not sit at his feet, and at the top-side of the bed it is forbidden even if both are on the same level; if the invalid is a perfectly righteous person צדיק גמור the visitor may sit only in front of him at his feet, for in this case the Divine Presence is found on every side of the invalid excluding the side at his feet.
אֵין מְבַקְּרִין הַחוֹלֶה בְּג' שָׁעוֹת רִאשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁל יוֹם, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכָּל חוֹלֶה, מֵקֵל עָלָיו חָלְיוֹ בַּבֹּקֶר, וְלֹא יָחוּשׁ לְבַקֵּשׁ עָלָיו רַחֲמִים. וְלֹא בְּג' שָׁעוֹת אַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁל יוֹם, שֶׁאָז מַכְבִּיד עָלָיו חָלְיוֹ, וְיִתְיָאֵשׁ מִלְּבַקֵּשׁ עָלָיו רַחֲמִים. וְכָל שֶׁבִּקֵּר וְלֹא בִּקֵּשׁ עָלָיו רַחֲמִים, לֹא קִיֵּם הַמִּצְוָה (בֵּית יוֹסֵף בְּשֵׁם הָרַמְבַּ''ן).
One must not visit the sick during the first three hours of the day, — for every invalid's illness is alleviated in the morning and [consequently] one will not trouble himself to pray15Lit. ‘to ask for mercy.’ for him; and not during the last three hours of the day, — for then his illness grows worse and one will give up hope to pray for him.16Ned. ibid. This is not a prohibition but only general advice. Hence, people are not particular with respect to this requirement — A.H. Gloss: One who visited [a sick person] and did not pray for him has not fulfilled the religious duty [of visiting the sick].17B.Yos. citing N (in T.H.) — G.
כְּשֶׁמְּבַקֵּשׁ עָלָיו רַחֲמִים, אִם מְבַקֵּשׁ לְפָנָיו, יָכוֹל לְבַקֵּשׁ בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. וְאִם מְבַקֵּשׁ שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו, לֹא יְבַקֵּשׁ אֶלָּא בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ.
When one prays for him, — if in his presence,18e., the invalid’s. one may pray in any language one desires; if one prays, not in his presence,18e., the invalid’s. one should pray only in Hebrew.19Shab. ibid. according to which the Divine Presence is with the invalid and supports him (v. supra n. 12). Hence, the visitor may pray in any language since he is in the presence of God. But when he is not in the presence of the invalid he requires the angel’s intercession who according to tradition understands only Hebrew (v. Sot. 33a). This should not be confused with the notion that Judaism advocates praying to angels to intercede on our behalf. The angel merely acts as a carrier of prayers to God. Y.Ber. IX, 1(13a), “If a misfortune befalls a person, he should not cry to Michael or Gabriel, but let him cry to me and I will answer him forthwith, as it is written, ‘whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered’” (Joel III, 5).
יִכְלֹל אוֹתוֹ בְּתוֹךְ חוֹלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁיֹּאמַר: הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עָלֶיךָ בְּתוֹךְ חוֹלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וּבְשַׁבָּת אוֹמֵר: שַׁבָּת הִיא מִלִּזְעֹק, וּרְפוּאָה קְרוֹבָה לָבוֹא.
One should combine him with other Jewish sick by saying, 'May the Omnipresent have compassion upon you in the midst of the sick of Israel;'20Shab. ibid. since the merit of a group is more efficacious. and on the Sabbath he says, 'It is the Sabbath when it is forbidden to cry out21Ibid., which is not in keeping with the spirit of the Sabbath. Siddur for text. and healing will come soon.'22 O.Ḥ. § 287.
אוֹמְרִים לוֹ שֶׁיִּתֵּן דַּעְתּוֹ עַל עִנְיָנָיו, אִם הִלְוָה אוֹ הִפְקִיד אֵצֶל אֲחֵרִים, אוֹ אֲחֵרִים הִלְווּ אוֹ הִפְקִידוּ אֶצְלוֹ, וְאַל יִפְחַד מִפְּנֵי זֶה מֵהַמָּוֶת.
He is told to consider his affairs whether he lent to or deposited [aught] with others,23Or whether he wishes to leave instructions for his children — A.H. or vice versa, and that he should not fear death on account of this.24T.H. citing Sem. However, this is not found in cur. edd. of Sem. The source of this ruling is Sem. de R. Ḥiyya(H) ibid.
אֵין מְבַקְּרִין לֹא לְחֹלִי מֵעַיִם וְלֹא לְחֹלִי הָעַיִן וְלֹא לְחֹלִי הָרֹאשׁ. וְכֵן כָּל חֹלִי דְּתָקִיף לֵיהּ עָלְמָא וְקָשֶׁה לֵיהּ דִּבּוּרָא אֵין מְבַקְּרִין אוֹתוֹ בְּפָנָיו, אֶלָּא נִכְנָסִין בַּבַּיִת הַחִיצוֹן וְשׁוֹאֲלִין וְדוֹרְשִׁין בּוֹ אִם צְרִיכִין לְכַבֵּד וְלִרְבֹּץ לְפָנָיו, וְכַיּוֹצֵא בוֹ, וְשׁוֹמְעִין צַעֲרוֹ וּמְבַקְּשִׁים עָלָיו רַחֲמִים.
One must not visit those suffering with bowel diseases,25Ned. 41a, on account of embarrassment, since the invalid has to move his bowels frequently. or with eye diseases, or from headaches.26Ibid., on account of engaging in conversation which is injurious to people suffering from headaches. And likewise, whosoever is very sick27Lit. ‘the world rests heavily upon him.’ and conversation is injurious to him must not be visited in his presence, but one may enter the outer chamber and ask and inquire regarding him, — whether it is necessary to sweep or sprinkle the ground before him28Ibid., 40a. or anything similar to this, and hear his suffering and and pray for him.
מְבַקְּרִין חוֹלֵי עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים, מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם.
One must visit the sick of the Gentiles in the interests of peace.29Git. 61a. Cf. W.G. a.l.
בְּחוֹלֵי מֵעַיִם אֵין הָאִישׁ מְשַׁמֵּשׁ אֶת הָאִשָּׁה, אֲבָל הָאִשָּׁה מְשַׁמֶּשֶׁת אֶת הָאִישׁ. הַגָּה: יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁמִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ חוֹלֶה בְּבֵיתוֹ, יֵלֵךְ אֵצֶל חָכָם שֶׁבָּעִיר שֶׁיְּבַקֵּשׁ עָלָיו רַחֲמִים (נ''י פֶּרֶק י''נ), וְכֶן נָהֲגוּ לְבָרֵךְ חוֹלִים בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת, לִקְרֹא לָהֶם שֵׁם חָדָשׁ, כִּי שִׁנּוּי הַשֵּׁם קוֹרֵעַ גְּזַר דִּינוֹ. נִחוּם אֲבֵלִים, קוֹדֵם לְבִקּוּר חוֹלִים (כָּל בּוֹ).
[In the case of] those suffering with bowel diseases,—[the law is that] the man must not attend upon the woman, but the woman may attend upon the man.30In such cases attendance by a man upon a wowan leads to obscene thoughts and licentiousness. In the reverse case the passion is not as strong and hence permissible. Thus D.M. TaZ and ShaK make a distinction between diseases, where the male is more prone to be tempted, and other illnesses, where this is not applicable. Cf. supra § 195, 18 and infra § 352, 3. also Resp. N.B., E.H. s. 69. Gloss: Some say that whosoever has a sick person in his home should go to the Sage of the city in order that he pray for him;31B.B. 116a and N.Yos. a.l. — G. and likewise is it the accepted practice to recite blessings [on behalf of] sick persons, in the Synagogues,32On days when the Torah is read. O.Ḥ. § 54, 2; § 288, Blessings may be recited on behalf of sick people even if the latter do not reside in the same city — P.Tesh. No blessing is recited on behalf of an excommunicant — Sefer Ḥasidim. [viz.,] to give them an [additional] new name, for a change of name causes an evil decree passed upon man to be cancelled.33R.H. 16b. [The precept of] comforting mourners takes precedence over visiting the sick.34Kol Bo — G. also Yad, Ebel XIV, 7. Since the precept of comforting mourners is a charitable act both on behalf of the living and the dead.