The passuk states “וירא אליו ה’ באלוני ממרא, and Hashem appeared to him – Avraham, in the plains of Mamrey.” Rashi explains the reason why Hashem came was to be me’vaker Avraham who was sick because of his circumcision. Rebi Chama says it was on the 3rd day after his circumcision, and Hashem came to ask how he was feeling. The Peirush HaRosh points out that the passuk states וירא, and Hashem appeared to Avraham, but it does not mention that Hashem said or told anything to him. This teaches proper ethics for one who is me’vaker a sick person. A person should be me’vaker a sick person even if he won’t end up talking to him, for example when he is found to be sleeping. The sick person will feel good when he is told by others that so and so came to visit him, and it will produce a pleasant feeling and give chizuk that someone came to visit.
A relative of mine was once hit by a car, and after much time in the hospital she was discharged to rehab. The place was far away from where I lived, so I took a long bus-ride to visit, and walked quite a while to reach the home. I ask the secretary at the desk which room to go to, and she responds, “This patient is not taking visitors.” I thought to myself, should I try to convince the secretary to visit, after all the effort I put in to shlep out there? I decided, if it was not helpful to the sick person, there is no need. I did not come to visit for myself, rather for my relative. When she’ll find out that I came to visit she’ll feel good; it will be beneficial.
What does it mean to be “me’vaker” a sick person? Simply we understand, as one who comes to visit a sick person. The Maharsha brings b’shem Rashi another explanation, it means to look and check into and remember. The Radak adds, this is as it states, “לא יבקר הכהן, the Kohen should not seek and check out” the color of the leprosy to see whether it stayed the same or changed. So too, when one comes to visit a sick person, he should check into the whereabouts of the sick person and see how he could be of help. This causes the patient to feel good, people care about his difficult situation and it gives hope; people are interested in assisting him. The Gemara brings: one of Rebi Akiva’s students became sick and the Chachomim did not go to visit him. Rebi Akiva himself went to visit, and they swept the floor and laid down the dirt before the sick person. He got better and lived. The Peirush HaRosh explains, Rebi Akiva commanded them to sweep and lay down the dirt. The Meiri brings that Rebi Akiva himself swept and laid down the dust. The student said to Rebi Akiva, “You caused me to live!” Rebi Akiva went out and darshined, “whoever is not me’vaker a sick person is as though he kills him.” The Peirush HaRosh explains: they fixed up the floor because when one comes to visit a sick person, he checks into all his needs. The Meiri adds, it brings pleasure and a good feeling for the sick person and causes him to live.
The Gemara brings: Rav Dimi said, if one is not me’vaker choleh, then he won’t daven for the person’s health to return and he will not help him live. The Peirush HaRosh explains, it is very bad to not visit a sick person, because someone who visits will see his difficult situation and daven for him. It is possible that it would have been at a time that Hashem would accept his davening and heal him. If so by holding back from visiting it might cause death. The Rama brings: whoever visits a sick person and doesn’t ask for mercy from Hashem, he did not fulfill this mitzva. This seems that the main purpose of visiting the sick is to help cure him by davening.
Let us perform the mitzva of bikur cholim and merit to bring cures for the sick to continue living.