There are a number of reasons behind the mitzva (commandment) to visit the
1. Providing the sick person with his needs.
2. Showing that you care about him.
3. Praying for him in his presence.
1. Providing him with his needs: The most fundamental reason for
visiting a sick person is to ensure that he is being properly attended
to. Traditionally, a sick person may not necessarily have been located in
a hospital that provided quality health care and therefore it was very
important to check that the sick person was being ably treated for his
condition. Nowadays, most people with a serious sickness or who require an
operation are in hospital where their needs are generally provided for.
Nonetheless, it is possible that a patient not receive a great deal of
attention since there are so many other patients, thus a visitor can still
play an important role in clarifying the patientís needs and trying to
make sure that the medical staff provide the patient with his needs and in
this way the visitor can help make the patientís stay more pleasant.
2. Showing him that you care about him: Even if a person is not
required to ensure that the patient is properly looked after, nonetheless
he can fulfill the vital function of making the patient know that someone
cares about him and is willing to devote some of his own time and energy
to visit him in hospital. It seems that oneís mere presence is more
important than anything he may say to the patient. We learn this from the
account of when Hashem visited Avraham Avinu after his circumcision. The
Torah tells us that Hashem appeared to Avraham but makes no mention of
what Hashem actually said. This teaches that the most significant factor
about Hashemís visit to Avraham was the fact that He was there and that
any words spoken were secondary. Moreover, it is important to note that
when a sick person feels emotionally stronger it is more likely that his
physical health will improve, thus visiting him and showing that you care
is one way of helping him in his physical recovery.
3. Praying for him in his presence: The Rabbis write that an
essential part of visiting the sick is praying for him in his presence.
This is so important because we know that ultimately the real source of
health is Hashem and not any doctor or medicine. Thus, praying is a
genuine form of kindness. Praying for the patient is such an important
part of visiting the sick that if one did not pray then he did not fulfill