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Rabbi David Wolpe
Rabbi David Wolpe


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Sinai Temple - 10400 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA. 90024 Phone (310) 474-1518 Fax (310) 474-6801

10400 Wilshire Blvd.   Los Angeles, CA. 90024   Phone (310) 474-1518   Fax (310) 474-6801





Visiting the Sick

One of the most important interpersonal commandments that we have is the mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim, visiting the sick. We are commanded to visit anyone who is ill in order to show them that they are loved, to revive their spirit, to show them that they are not alone, to keep them company, and to pray on their behalf. The Rabbis teach that God, in fact, demonstrates the importance of this mitzvah by modeling this behavior. After Abraham circumcises himself and is recovering from the surgery God visits him and performs the mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim.

There are many laws and customs regarding visiting the sick. Some of the best practices derived from Jewish law and modern psychology are:

  • Do not visit early in the morning or late at night.
  • Call before you want to visit to make sure it is a convenient time to come over.
  • Do not ask, “How are you?” They are sick, that is why you are visiting. It is better to ask, “How are you feeling, today?” or “How have you been managing?”
  • Do not stand over the person if they are laying down or sitting. Sit down next to them.
  • Touch can be very soothing and comforting. Ask if they feel comfortable with you holding their hand.
  • Make sure that your hands are clean so that you do not make them sicker.
  • Pray with person in their presence and pray for them at other times as well. There are prayers for healing from the Bible and that the Rabbis have written, but you do not need to know these prayers to pray. Praying with or for someone can be done in any language. A prayer can be as simple as, “God please heal . . .” or “God please take away the pain from . . .”. If you feel compelled to pray in Hebrew you can always recite the Shema together.

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We are commanded to visit both Jewish and non-Jewish people who are sick.

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