How To Visit the Sick, in Judaism

A rabbi offers advice about how to perform the mitzvah of visiting the sick with wisdom, discretion, and sensitivity.

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·        Make a contribution to a synagogue or a charitable cause in honor of the sick person. In Jewish tradition, tzedakah (a charitable contribution) is a highly cherished form of demonstrating respect and concern.

18. Reestablish the ancient Jewish tradition of va‘ad bikkur holim (“committee to visit the sick”). Bikkur holim is an obligation of all members of a community. Rather than relying on our own personal network of people who will “take care of their own,” it is time to reestablish the va‘ad bikkur holim. Itdemonstrates that Judaism is not just for paid professionals and that the community, as a community, takes care of its members.

19. Visit nursing home residents, long-time hospital patients, and elderly shut-ins. Many people suffer from chronic illnesses for such a long time that we often stop remembering that they need our care. The rules of bikkur holim apply to these people too.

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Rabbi Bradley Artson

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is Vice-President of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and Dean of its Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies. He served as a congregational rabbi in Southern California for ten years. Rabbi Artson?is the author of The Bedside Torah and co-author of a children's book, I Have Some Questions about God.