Ethics

For the week ending 5 September 2009 / 15 Elul 5769

Visiting the Sleeping Patient

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: Heading for a visit to a friend in the hospital I was informed that it was likely that he would be asleep when I arrived. Since this was the only time I had available for such a visit I wondered whether there was any point in visiting him. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Of course there is a point in making a sick visit to a sleeping person.

First of all, the power of prayer at his bedside is still a consideration even if you cannot converse with him.

While the moral support provided by a visit to the sick is not provided while he is asleep, you must take into account how he will feel when he awakes and is told that you honored him with a visit.

There is even a case to be made for visiting someone who is in a coma or considered a "vegetable" since the halacha does not distinguish between one patient and another in commanding us to visit the sick.

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