Tag Archive | The Chofetz Chaim

Loving Kindness Day 152 Delicate Matters

Loving Kindness – SEFER AHAVAS CHESED

Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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Loving Kindness

Day 152 – Delicate Matters

SEFER AHAVAS CHESED — Part III Chapter III

      One of the three purposes of visiting the sick (see Day 153) is to gently guide them toward settling their material as well as spiritual accounts. When a person’s health is compromised, the possibility arises that the details of his financial dealings may become lost or misconstrued. One is obligated, according to the Shulchan Aruch, to help him put his dealings into writing if necessary, and to verify matters such as loans, credit and consignments.

      There is a significant problem in meeting this obligation, the Chofetz Chaim acknowledges, and that is the possibility of causing the patient alarm. If his friends are trying to settle his affairs, he may reason, they must be expecting his imminent departure.

      The Chofetz Chaim recommends a custom outlined in the Chochmas HaAdam which overcomes this obstacle: Certain communities had a rule that on the third day of a person’s illness, the synagogue’s administrator would visit the patient and discuss writing or updating his will. Because the practice was established and uniformly applied, there was no implication of doom in it.

      In the area of spiritual accounting, the obligations and obstacles are similar. It is entirely possible to frighten a patient to near-death by telling him it is time to repent for his sins. Nonetheless, one of the goals in the act of bikur cholim is to guide the patient to repentance and to the recitation of “Viduy,” the confession that is recited before one passes into the Next World. The Chofetz Chaim points out that Viduy need not be seen as a frightening event. Repentance is a standard feature of a Jew’s spiritual life, and when a person is ill, one may be able to encourage him to see it as a merit for recovery rather than a last rite.

      Despite the importance of this aspect of bikur cholim, the Chofetz Chaim acknowledges it may sometimes be impossible to introduce the topic without alarming the patient. In that case, silence is the best policy.

      If it is clear that the sick person knows that his life is ebbing, one should discuss with a rabbi the appropriate way to proceed with Viduy. In the event that one is advised to say Viduy with the person, great tact is essential to avoid robbing the person of hope. Relatives who may become tearful should be asked politely to leave the room. The patient should be assured that repentance and confession are a powerful merit for a long life.

      If the patient is unable to recite the words, he should be encouraged to let his heart do the speaking. If necessary, one can read the words to him and he can listen. If he is unable to do that much, he can say or think the words, “May it be Hashem’s will that my passing should atone for my sins.” No matter what the outcome of the illness, repentance can only do good. If this does turn out to be the person’s last days, his confession provides him with an eternal asset, for anyone who recites it automatically receives a portion in the World to Come. If he recovers, the Viduy has certainly not been wasted, for it sends him forward into life endowed with a pure, cleansed soul.

Step by Step

In appropriate situations, I will try to assist those I visit with settling their affairs, or ascertain that someone is taking on this responsibility.

 

Taken from “Chofetz Chaim: Loving Kindness – Daily Lessons in the Power of Giving,” a project of Mesorah Publications and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

To subscribe or unsubscribe: e-mail them at kindness@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe or unsubscribe.

To order tapes, books, learning programs and their free catalog call them at 866-593-8399.

Please treat printed version with the respect due Torah materials.

ABOUT THE CHOFETZ CHAIM HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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Loving Kindness Day 151 – Heroes

Loving Kindness – SEFER AHAVAS CHESED

Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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Loving Kindness

Day 151 – Heroes

SEFER AHAVAS CHESED — Part III Chapter III

      Caring for the sick is not just a personal obligation, says the Chofetz Chaim. Every community should have an organization dedicated to this mitzvah, for it is a source of essential help to those in need and a source of great blessing for the entire community. Such a society should have one central mission, and that is to supply whatever is needed by the patient and his family. A bikur cholim organization has to step into the sick person’s home and assess the situation. One person may need a doctor. Another may need someone to care for the children. Another may need meals for the family. A bikur cholim society’s concerns extend to any assistance required to weather the crisis.

      “How good and beautiful it would be,” says the Chofetz Chaim, “if every city had such an organization.” This is especially so because the absence of these services can violate the Torah prohibition “You shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed” (Vayikra 19:16). In other words, one is not permitted to stand idly by as another person’s life ebbs away. In its simplest sense, this law means that one must stop and help a person who is ill or injured. This, most people instinctively understand; they are willing to step up to the role of hero to rescue a person in distress. The blood of one’s fellow, however, may not be spilling in an action packed episode requiring heroic intervention. The old woman in the attic apartment who feels too ill to take herself to the doctor is also “your fellow.” Her blood — her life — may also be ebbing away, and one easily might be lulled into standing by idly. “I’m sure her children are looking in on her,” one might think, or “Her landlady must check in on her.” Knocking on her door might not seem like a heroic lifesaving gesture, yet it is. For such a deed, one earns the Torah’s promised reward: “Fortunate is he who cares wisely for the needy. On the day of evil, Hashem will save him”(Tehillim 41:2).

      Those who project themselves into the lives of neighbors who are suffering with illness can conceive of acts of kindness nearly boundless in their merit. The Chofetz Chaim refers to one city in which a group of people took turns sitting through the night at the bedside of a sick man. Their chesed sprouted hundreds of offshoots. They tended to the patient, they comforted him, they gave the patient’s family a chance to sleep, which enabled them to care for him and keep his business going, which in turn enabled the household to function. All this could be attributed to this one service the community provided.

      Although the mission of bikur cholim is to ease the plight of the needy sick, its services can be of value to the wealthy as well. Even when someone can hire help, he cannot always hire reliable, compassionate help. Those who step in to offer their assistance provide a resource money cannot buy. They give the patient tangible help combined with the priceless intangible of knowing his neighbors care about him. A city populated by individuals willing to help each other in this way, says the Chofetz Chaim, is a city blessed.

Step by Step

If it is realistic for me, I will find out what I can do for my local bikur cholim organization. If there is no such group, I will try to initiate formation of one.

 

Taken from “Chofetz Chaim: Loving Kindness – Daily Lessons in the Power of Giving,” a project of Mesorah Publications and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

To subscribe or unsubscribe: e-mail them at kindness@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe or unsubscribe.

To order tapes, books, learning programs and their free catalog call them at 866-593-8399.

Please treat printed version with the respect due Torah materials.

ABOUT THE CHOFETZ CHAIM HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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Loving Kindness Day 150 Someone Else

Loving Kindness – SEFER AHAVAS CHESED

Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

Become a daily email sponsor and help us provide thousands with easy access to the Torah’s inspiration. As a merit for a departed loved one, or for a recovery from illness, your sponsorship will go a long way toward bringing people the most effective tool for deaaling with life’s troubles. Your dedication will reach over 8,000 recipients per day. Just email back the date and dedication you would like printed, along with your contact information to es@chofetzchaimusa.org.

Loving Kindness

Day 150 – Someone Else

SEFER AHAVAS CHESED — Part III Chapter III

      There is a job that needs to be done — a job that strikes most people as unpleasant, time consuming, upsetting and awkward. If there is a long line of other people who are likely to take on this task, the average person is more than happy to leave it to them. The job is bikur cholim, and this is the yezter hara-induced reasoning that causes otherwise compassionate, well-meaning people to overlook the mitzvah.

      No one is immune from the sin of complacency in this regard. The Talmud (Nedarim 41a) records a story of a student of Rabbi Akiva who became ill. Rabbi Akiva had thousands of students, representing the cream of the generation’s Torah scholars. Not one of them, however, took it upon himself to visit this sick colleague, for each was sure that others were doing so. The students were all too busy, but their teacher – Rabbi Akiva — was not. He went to visit his student and was shocked to find him alone and untended. Rabbi Akiva swept his room, washed the floor and spent some time with his student. “Rabbi,” the student told him, “you gave me life.” When Rabbi Akiva returned to the learning hall, he delivered to his students the stark admonition that “one who does not visit the sick, it is as if he is shedding blood.”

      The comparison is more than metaphorical. One visitor might be the person who knows the right doctor for the patient’s illness. He might have experience with an effective medication or treatment. He might have access to something or someone the patient needs. One person can make a life-and-death difference.

      The Chofetz Chaim criticizes his generation for laxity in the mitzvah of bikur cholim, especially in regard to the poor of the community. The obligation to visit the sick extends to everyone, he states, and applies especially to the poor, for in the case of the poor, the accusation of “bloodshed” is even more likely to reflect reality. The poor person may not be able to afford a good doctor and proper medication. He may not have household help to clean his surroundings and prepare his meals. He may lack adequate heat and a warm blanket to keep him comfortable. While the beloved rebbe or respected community leader is showered with attention in his moment of need, the poor man might suffer alone. Without visitors, he could lie in his bed for days unheeded, feeling as if he simply does not exist. The despair alone could rob him of his will to recover.

      The Talmud (Kesubos 68a) compares one who averts his eyes from the needs of others to one who engages in idol worship. Following the yetzer hara’s advice in this matter is like casting oneself upon a strong tide that pulls inexorably away from Torah and mitzvos. Averting one’s eyes — not looking — means not seeing. Not seeing means remaining unaware of someone’s pain, emotional stress and material deprivation. The yetzer hara understands that once a person sees all this, he will feel compelled to help and a flood of chesed will result. The person may raise money to help the poor, sick man. He may offer advice, assistance, comfort. He may find that in the end, he is credited with saving someone’s life.

Step by Step

I will fight off the urge to leave bikur cholim to others whom I perceive as being more obligated or qualified to help.

 

Taken from “Chofetz Chaim: Loving Kindness – Daily Lessons in the Power of Giving,” a project of Mesorah Publications and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

To subscribe or unsubscribe: e-mail them at kindness@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe or unsubscribe.

To order tapes, books, learning programs and their free catalog call them at 866-593-8399.

Please treat printed version with the respect due Torah materials.

ABOUT THE CHOFETZ CHAIM HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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Loving Kindness Day 149 – Just Rewards

Loving Kindness – SEFER AHAVAS CHESED

Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

Become a daily email sponsor and help us provide thousands with easy access to the Torah’s inspiration. As a merit for a departed loved one, or for a recovery from illness, your sponsorship will go a long way toward bringing people the most effective tool for deaaling with life’s troubles. Your dedication will reach over 8,000 recipients per day. Just email back the date and dedication you would like printed, along with your contact information to es@chofetzchaimusa.org.

Loving Kindness

Day 149 – Just Rewards

SEFER AHAVAS CHESED — Part III Chapter III

      The benefits of bikur cholim to the person suffering from ill health are clear to see. The benefits to the person who performs the mitzvah may not be as patently obvious to the casual observer, but they are indeed a tangible reality in this world, as well as an everlasting spiritual treasure in the World to Come. The Chofetz Chaim first provides a glimpse of the spiritual reward, quoting from the Talmud (Nedarim 40a): “One who visits a sick person is saved from Gehinnom, as the verse [Tehillim 41:2] says, ‘Fortunate is he who cares wisely for the needy, for on the day of evil, Hashem will save him.’ ” The day of evil is the Day of Judgment, which every person must eventually face at the end of his time on earth. The evil from which Hashem saves him is the fire of Gehinnom.

The Talmudic verse continues with a description of the rewards granted in this world to one who cares for the sick. “Hashem will protect him and give him life and make him prosper in the land.” The protection to which the verse refers is protection against the yetzer hara. The blessing of “life” is protection from suffering and pain. The prosperity in the land is material wealth that will cause the person to be honored by those among whom he lives.

      Citing the Sefer Keren Orah, the Chofetz Chaim explains how these three earthly rewards correspond, measure for measure, to the benefits one bestows upon the sick person through bikur cholim: One who visits the sick has three objectives. First, he seeks to enhance the patient’s physical comfort. In return, he earns Hashem’s protection from physical suffering. Secondly, where it is possible and appropriate, the visitor is obliged to gently guide the person toward a spiritual view of his situation. He should encourage him to consider avenues of self-improvement that would bring merit for his recovery, since Hashem is the source of both forgiveness and healing. In return for his efforts in building the patient’s spiritual strength, Hashem protects him from the corrosive effects of his own yetzer hara. The visitor’s third objective is to build up the patient’s will to live, letting him know that he is valued, and that his well-being is of concern to others. As reward for the honor and dignity the visitor bestows upon the patient, Hashem grants him wealth and the honor that accompanies it.

      In these three ways, the person who sets out to benefit those suffering through illness benefits himself most of all. He creates a well-endowed fund of merit that will protect and support him as he continues in his holy endeavors throughout a long and fruitful life.

Step by Step

When I tend to someone who is ill, I will keep in mind that all I am giving is ultimately to my own benefit.

 

Taken from “Chofetz Chaim: Loving Kindness – Daily Lessons in the Power of Giving,” a project of Mesorah Publications and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

To subscribe or unsubscribe: e-mail them at kindness@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe or unsubscribe.

To order tapes, books, learning programs and their free catalog call them at 866-593-8399.

Please treat printed version with the respect due Torah materials.

ABOUT THE CHOFETZ CHAIM HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

Taken from my Kindness Email Subscription
Chofetz_Chaim
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