In the very beginning of the Parsha of Vayayraw, God appears to Avraham, and our Sages indicate that the purpose of Hashem’s visit was to visit the sick, Bikur Cholim. Abraham had just undergone a circumcision and God was there to comfort him in his pain. Our great sage Maimonides understood that Bikur Cholim is actually part of two different Mitzvot. He writes that there is a mitzvah to emulate Hashem’s attributes. This concept is derived in the Talmud and recorded by Maimonides in his book delineating all of the Mitzvot. He writes later in this same book that there is a mitzvah for every Jew to love every other Jew and to wish for his or her brother or sister everything that he or she would want for themselves. He further writes that all of the mitzvot of Gemilut Chasadim, acts of loving-kindness (including visiting the sick) are included in the mitzvah of loving one’s fellow person. He, the Rambam, apparently understands that the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim is part of the mitzvah of loving our brothers and sisters as well as the mitzvah of emulating the ways of Hashem. The mitzvah of loving one’s brother or sister is a mitzvah “Bein Adam La’chaveiro” a commandment between people, to care for the needs of one’s fellow person. The mitzvah of emulating the ways of Hashem is a mitzvah “Bein Adam La’Makom” a commandment between mortals and God, to bring oneself closer to God and God’s ways.
Whichever type of Mitzvah it is, it is acknowledged that comforting those in pain, emotional, physical or spiritual, is a great deed of loving-kindness. In that regard, I’d like to appeal to all of us in the TBS community to let me know if you want to be part of a group that extends kindness to people in our midst who are in need of comfort. Please let me or Rhoda Kanet know if you’d want to make a phone call to someone who would appreciate it, or to perform some act of compassion on their behalf. Also, if you are in need of a call or any type of outreach, please let us know. This is a great Mitzvah and should be purused!
Thanks, David (617) 838-9166