Sunday, June 7, 2009

Visiting the "Sick"

A certain maggid once arrived in a city which a number of well known “characters” lived. One was a wealthy man who was something of a scholar but never gave any money to the many poor people who approached him. This man had been so absolutely immovable in this regard for such a long time that everyone figured he may well stay that way until the day he died.
Which is why people were surprised when this maggid declared with confidence that he would successfully solicit a donation from the notoriously miserly man. When someone tried to discourage the maggid from attempting what so many had proven to be a waste of time, the maggid merely said, “You’ll see. I will definitely convince him, with Hashem’s help.”
When the maggid showed up at the wealthy man’s house, he was invited in. After all, the gentleman appeared to be a worthy individual and it was definitely possible that he was visiting for a valid reason.
As they were sitting together, the wealthy man asked, “To what do I owe the honor of this visit?”
“I heard you were sick and came to be mevaker cholim,” was the man’s strange reply.
“But I’m healthy as can be!” replied the flummoxed man.
The visitor demurred. “I am sorry to inform you that you actually are quite ill. Does it not clearly state in the verse, ‘A man to whom Hashem gives riches, wealth, and honor, so that he wants nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet Hashem does not give him the power to eat of it...this is an evil disease?’”
The wealthy man didn’t really have an answer to that, so he remained silent and so did the maggid.
After a few minutes of introspection the somewhat uncomfortable man invited the maggid to leave. “Well, you have surely discharged your mitzvah of bikur cholim, so why are you lingering?”
“But I have not yet fulfilled my obligation,” replied the maggid. “In Bava Metzia 30 we find that each visitor to a sick person takes away one sixtieth of the sickness. So I need to remain here until you donate a sixtieth of your wealth to a worthy cause!”
There words spoken in a warm manner made such a good impression on the wealthy man that he gave a large donation for the first time in anyone’s living memory!

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