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    The rishonim discuss
    whether bikur cholim
    is a mitzvah from the
    Torah or a mitzvah
    d’rabbanan. Many
    sources imply that
    bikur cholim is a Torah
    obligation. If the basis
    for bikur cholim is
    chesed, that is also a
    mitzvah from the
    Torah, as it falls under
    the umbrella mitzvah
    of, “Love your fellow
    man like yourself.”
    Furthermore, it states
    (Devarim 28:9), “You
    shall go in His ways,”
    and it states (Devarim
    13:5) “After Hashem your G-d shall you
    follow,” and Chazal explain this to mean that
    we should follow Hashem’s ways by visiting
    the ill and performing other forms of chesed.
    According to some rishonim, the mitzvah of
    bikur cholim is expressed in parashas Korach
    (Bamidbar 16:29). Moshe said, “If the destiny
    of all men has visited upon them,” and the
    Gemara (Nedarim 39:) explains, “If they die
    like all ill people, who lie on their beds and
    people come to visit them…”Another popular
    source is in this week’s parashah (18:20) “You

    shall make known to them the path on which
    they should go…” The Gemara (Bava Metzia
    30:) says that this refers to visiting the ill.
    The Gemara (Nedarim 40.) relates that a
    student of Reb Akiva’s yeshiva was ill, and
    the students of the yeshiva weren’t coming to
    visit him, so Reb Akiva, himself, came to visit
    his student. Reb Akiva tidied up the room,
    washed the floors, and the sick student said,
    “Rebbe, you granted me life.”“Reb Akiva
    went and taught his students, ‘Whoever
    doesn’t visit the sick, it is like murder, and
    whoever visits the sick brings him life.’”
    The Seder HaYom writes, “Bikur cholim is
    the from highest forms of gemilus chasadim,
    as Chazal (Nedarim 39:) write, ‘Bikur cholim
    has not no limit.’ Sometimes, with clever,
    encouraging, and kind words, one can revive a
    sick person and grant him life. We have seen
    this happen many times. Sometimes a person
    visits the sick for an hour or two, and the ill
    person says, ‘I feel like a new person. My
    neshamah came back to me,’ and we see that
    the illness became lighter.”
    Happiness is a cure for all illnesses, and this is
    one of the services we do for the ill when we
    visit them. We make them happy, which
    makes their condition easier to bear, and
    sometimes it can cure them. It states (Mishlei
    18:14), “A man’s spirit will sustain his

    sickness, but who can
    support a broken spirit.”
    The Vilna Gaon zt’l explains
    that ruach means happiness.
    “When a person is happy, he
    can handle his illness… His
    joy will annul it. But when
    one is sad, who can carry
    The Rambam writes, “Tell
    an ill person happy stories
    that will gladden his heart.
    Tell him interesting news
    that will take his mind off
    his illness, make him laugh,
    and make the people caring
    for him laugh. When you choose someone to
    be with a sick person, choose someone who
    can make him happy because this is what is
    Sodi Razyah (attributed to the Rokeach)
    writes, “When one visits the sick, he should
    speak to his heart comforting and encouraging
    words.” These encouraging words will bring
    joy and at times, refuah, too.
    The Gemara (Nedarim 40.) writes the many
    rewards of visiting and caring for the ill.
    Among them is that he will be saved from
    Gehinom, and is granted long life, protection
    from the yetzer hara, he is saved from

    afflictions, everyone honors him, and he will
    have good friends who give him good counsel,
    and he will be saved from bad friends who
    give bad counsel.
    The meforshim explain that these rewards are
    Middah K’neged Middah. For example, the
    Gemara says that visiting the sick saves one
    from afflictions. This reward is, Middah
    K’neged Middah. measure per measure. He
    saved the ill person from afflictions therefore,
    he is rewarded that he won’t be afflicted.
    We add that he will be saved from the ill
    person’. Just as he helped the ill person
    overcome that illness, Hashem will help him
    that he won’t be afflicted with that illness.