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On Visiting the Hospital….

Jewish tradition teaches us that the mitzvah (the responsibility) of visiting the sick is one of the ten most important ideals.  We learn this from the section of the Mishnah in Peah 1:1.  There is a listing of 1o things that a Jew should do to merit a blessing in the world to come.  Bikur Cholim, visiting the sick is one of these along with Honoring Parents, Celebrating with the wedding couple, walking with mourners through their days of mourning, study daily and making peace where there is strife!

It has been four weeks since my son’s father entered the hospital. He has fought back so hard and is doing better.  He is still in CCU but if he keeps moving in the right direction will be eligible for a transplant!  We are encouraged by his progress especially in the last week. 

For me the power of prayer has always been an important part of my life. But especially in situations like our family has faced the prayers and blessings of so many of you has made a difference. They helped give him strength and all of us.  The wide circle who has expressed concern and caring has helped this month pass even with its anxieties and tensions and worries and permitted us the opportunities to focus on his healing.

The Shulchan Aruch, an important Jewish code of law written originally by Joseph Karo and with commentary by Moses Isserles says that each visit by someone to a sick person takes away 1/60th of the illness.  The caring presence  opens up a pathway to healing by removing some of the illness. Now this isn’t to be read literally but metaphorically.  Each of us can through sharing our souls, sharing our concerns wash away a bit of the dis-ease.  The uneasiness of being ill. The uneasiness of the family who are also affected at are not at ease.  Each visit in the hospital room makes a difference.

The key is to know how long and how to visit.  So some things I have learned over the years are:

Keep your visit short.  It may take you longer to get there and park than the time you will be in the room.  Don’t hold court there. 5 Minutes is a good long visit.

Don’t go if you have the sniffles or of course if you are getting over something.  You might re-infect someone whose immune system isn’t functioning fully.

Don’t assume that the patient wants to hear all about you.  And don’t assume the patient wants to tell you everything that is going on with them. The patient may not know everything either.

Find out if you can bring flowers or gifts before going.  Many people are allergic to flowers.  If they are in ICU or CCU plants or flowers are not allowed in most hospitals and Balloons aren’t welcome in most CCU’s or ICU either.

Don’t bring your kids with you on a visit. Many hospitals are now restricting visitation to hospitals of those under sixteen because of the H1N1 virus.

WASH YOUR HANDS before entering and after.  Many rooms have hand sanitizer on the way in. USE IT. 

Send get well cards.

And find out if partners/spouses could use some help or a covered dinner at their home to eat at their leisure.

These are some basic tips. 

I thank all who have helped. All who have prayed and sent their healing energy our family’s way.

2 thoughts on “On Visiting the Hospital….”

  1. Rabbi,
    Thank you so much for this post. I feel so helpless. I know enough to not add to the burden but hope for any news and, ways I can be of help to all of you who are doing the mitzvah for are beloved Mason.

  2. Thank you for the update on dear Mason – I include him in my morning prayers every day – and to you and your family – Mason always reached out a hand to me in so many ways over the years – I pray for a swift recovery – know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers –

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