Some Ill People Need More than Just a Visit

Spiritual needs cannot be ignored, but sometimes we should notice the material needs of those who are ill, and take action.

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In addition to helping take care of the material needs of the impoverished ill (for example, by making sure they have money for medicine), one should go to the supermarket and shop for them. In many Jewish communities there are Bikur Cholim societies which visit not only those who are in hospitals but also shut ins, those whose illnesses are apt to be ignored by the general community. These societies make sure that such people have visitors and a daily hot meal, and are taken to and from their medical appointments. While affluent people can hire others to shop for them and accompany them to medical appointments, poor people cannot. If such aid is not extended, they might stay in their homes and die.

As Jewish law reminds us, visiting the sick is done not only to sustain the ill person emotionally; sometimes it can save the person’s life.

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Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin is the author of Jewish Literacy and Words that Hurt, Words that Heal, along with other widely-read books on Judaism and the "Rabbi Daniel Winter" murder mysteries. He lives in New York City and lectures widely throughout North America.