Jewish Texts for Teaching about Social Action

    Judaism posits that we have personal and communal responsibility to help others, especially during times of disaster and tragedy.

     

    Visiting the Sick
    Acts of Kindness
    Charity
    Saving Lives
    Tikkun Olam
    Relationships with Non-Jews
    Coping

    Visiting the Sick

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Baba Metzia 30b
    Whoever visits the sick removes one sixtieth of his illness, while one who ignores a sick person hastens his death.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Nedarim 39b
    Whoever visits the sick removes one sixtieth of his illness, while one who ignores a sick person hastens his death.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Nedarim 39b-40a
    Rabbi Helbo fell sick and no one visited him. Rabbi Kahana rebuked the sages: Did it not once happen, he reminded them, that one of Rabbi Akiva’s disciples fell sick and the sages did not visit him? So Rabbi Akiva himself visited him and because [he arranged to have the floor] swept and washed, the sick man recovered. My master, [the sick man] said [to Rabbi Akiva], you have revived me. Rabbi Akiva went out and taught, He who does not visit the sick is like a shedder of blood.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Nedarim 40a
    He who visits the sick will be spared the punishments of the next world.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Sotah 14a
    Rabbi Hama, son of Rabbi Hanina, said: What does the Torah mean when it says: “You shall walk in the ways of the Lord.” (Devarim 13:5) Can a person really walk in the shadow of the Divine Prescence? Rather, it means that you should imitate the ways of God. Just as God clothed the naked, as it says: “And God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them,” (Bereshit 3:21) so you shall clothe the naked. Just as God visited the sick, “And God appeared before Abraham [after his circumcision],” so you should visit the sick; just as God buried the dead, as it says: “And God buried Moses in the valley,” so you should bury the dead; and just as God comforts the grieving, as it says: “After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son,” so you too comfort the grieving.

    Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Avel (Laws of Mourning) 14:1
    It is a positive commandment to visit the sick, comfort the mourning, to remove the dead, to bring in the bride, to escort guests, and to occupy oneself with all the needs of burial; carrying [the coffin] on one’s shoulder, to walk in front of him, to eulogize, to dig, and to bury. As well to make the bride and groom happy, and to take care of all their needs. And these are ‘Gemillut Chasadim’ that are done with one’s body, that have no measurement.

    Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Avel (Laws of Mourning) 14:4
    Whoever visits the sick, it is as if he removes part of his sickness and makes it easier on him, while one who ignores a sick person is like one who sheds blood.

    Shut Tzitz Eliezer Part 5:3
    According to this, the essence of the commandment of Bikkur Cholim is to look after the sick person’s needs and to take care of him, I thought that this would provide an exemption from visiting the sick in a place where it is certain that he will be taken care of by others, specifically when he is in a hospital… where there is no need whatsoever to look after the sick person [as the hospital is taking care of him], and if so the essence of the commandment to visit the sick would not apply to this person [in the hospital]. However, we learn from the Gemara in Nedarim 40a that just like an essential aspect of the commandment is to look after the sick, another essential aspect which is no less important is to visit the sick so that it awakens your motivation to pray for his mercy, and this is what I found in Torat HaAdam of the Ramban… that it is understood explicitly from the words of the Ramban that in fact the goal of the visit is also so that you will pray for mercy to him. This is so important, that if you did not pray after you visited him, you did not fulfill your obligation, as well, the goal of the visit is also so that the sick will find comfort amongst his friends’ company, and these two reasons are always present, even when somebody else is taking care of his physical needs.

    Sefer Shlah HaKadosh, Massekhet Pesakhim, Ner Mitzvah Chapter
    Visiting the sick is done by body, soul, and money. How by body? He should run and occupy himself with the sick person’s needs and should find for him all his medicines, and so he should take pains in his body in order to care for the rest of [the sick’s] needs. . . how by soul? He should pour out his soul in prayers to God to send the sick a full recovery. How with money? To see if the sick person does not have enough money to take care of all his needs, he should try to help because the needs of a sick person are many.

    Shut Igrot Moshe Part 11 Section 223
    And in regards to Bikkur Cholim by way of a phone call … in my humble opinion, even though he is fulfilling the commandment of Bikkur Cholim it is not fitting to say he fulfilled his obligation, since in this type of visit [a phone call] other aspects of Bikkur Cholim are not being fulfilled. And all that comes from this [the invention of the telephone] is that if one cannot physically go do Bikkur Cholim, he is not completely exempt from his responsibility, but rather he must do what he can over the telephone … But in the case of a sick person that one can visit in person, one is obligated to physically go and visit because the reason [of Bikkur Cholim is] that the sick may find comfort in his visitors’ presence is not relevant when you do not visit in person. Also [one is obligated to visit in person] because seeing someone suffering or in pain stirs inside him a stronger passion to pray for the sick and maybe if he prays there [by the sick] it will be accepted quicker as God’s presence is found there with the sick … and in my humble opinion it is not relevant to say that the essence [of Bikkur Cholim] is for the prayer, but rather each aspect is important in its own right … but there is a division between the prayer and the other aspects [of Bikkur Cholim] that the prayer cannot be fulfilled on your behalf by other people, as even though other people are praying, it is always preferable that more people pray, but in regards to the other aspects, it is a commandment that could be fulfilled by others on your behalf …

    Acts of Kindness

    Mikhah 6:8
    You have been told what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

    Tehillim 33:5
    He loves charity and justice; the earth is filled with the loving kindness of the Lord.

    Mishnah Massekhet Avot 1:2
    The world stands on three things: on the Torah, on the service of God, and on acts of loving-kindness.

    Mishnah Massekhet Avot 3:9 [11]
    He whose good deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure. But he whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, his wisdom will not endure.

    Mishnah Massekhet Avot 6:9
    When a person departs from this world neither his silver, gold, precious stones nor pearls accompany him; only his Torah and good deeds.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Shabbat 127a
    People who perform acts of loving kindness will be rewarded by God in this world [during this life], and rewarded a second time in the next world.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Betzah 32b
    Jews are compassionate children of compassionate parents, and one who shows no pity for fellow creatures is assuredly not the seed of Abraham, our father.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Succa 49b
    Our Rabbis taught: Gemilut Chesed is greater than charity in three ways. Charity is done with one’s money, while loving-kindness may be done with one’s money or with one’s person. Charity is given only to the poor, while loving-kindness may be given both to the poor and to the rich. Charity is given only to the living, while loving-kindness may be shown to both the living and the dead.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Yevamot 79a
    Three signs identify this people: They are merciful; they are bashful; and they perform deeds of loving-kindness.

    Chofetz Chaim Ahavat Chessed
    The Holy One Blessed Be He, created humans in such a way that every man needs help from those around him and it is rarely the case that man can take care of himself alone and he always needs others’ help because this is how God created him, that man is incomplete on his own and each one completes the other, everyone has their own expertise.

    Charity

    Vayikra 25:35
    And when your brother will become poor and you will extend your hand to him.

    Devarim 15:7-8
    If, however, there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs.

    Mishlei 21:3
    Doing charity and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Shabbat 151b
    Rabbi Hiyya advised his wife, “When a poor man comes to the door, be quick to give him food so that the same may be done to your children.” She exclaimed, “You are cursing our children [with the suggestion that they may become beggars].” But Rabbi Hiyya replied, “There is a wheel which revolves in this world.”

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Baba Bathra 9a
    Charity is equal in importance to all other commandments combined.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Baba Bathra 10a
    Ten strong things have been created in the world. The rock is hard, but the iron cleaves it. The iron is hard, but the fire softens it. The fire is hard, but the water quenches it. The water is strong, but the clouds bear it. The clouds are strong, but the wind scatters them. The wind is strong, but the body bears it. The body is strong, but fright crushes it. Fright is strong, but wine banishes it. Wine is strong, but sleep works it off. Death is stronger than all, and charity saves from death, as it is written, righteousness [zedakah] delivers from death.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Ketuvot 68a
    If a person closes his eyes to avoid giving any charity, it is as if he committed idolatry.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Sukkah 49b
    R. Eleazar stated, Greater is he who performs charity than [he who offers] all the sacrifices, for it is said, to do charity and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

    Mishneh Torah: Hilkhot Matanot Aniyim (Laws of Giving to the Poor) 10:1
    We are obligated to be careful with regard to the mitzvah of charity to a greater extent than all [other] positive commandments, because charity is an identifying mark for a righteous person, a descendant of Abraham, our patriarch, as [Bereshit 18:19] states: “I have known him, because he commands his children… to perform charity.” The throne of Israel will not be established, nor will the true faith stand except through charity, as [Yeshayahu 54:14] states: “You shall be established through righteousness.” And Israel will be redeemed solely through charity, as [ibid. 1:27] states: “Zion will be redeemed through judgment and those who return to her through charity.”

    Mishneh Torah: Hilkhot Yom Tov (Laws of the Holidays) 6:18
    And while one eats and drinks himself, it is his duty to feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, and other poor and unfortunate people, for he who locks the doors to his courtyard and eats and drinks with his wife and family, without giving anything to eat and drink to the poor and bitter in soul – his meal is not a rejoicing in a divine commandment, but a rejoicing in his own stomach. It is of such persons that Scripture says, “Their sacrifices shall be to them as the bread of mourners, all that eat thereof shall be polluted; for their bread is their own appetite” (Hosea 9:4).Rejoicing of this kind is a disgrace to those who indulge in it, as scripture says, “And I will spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your sacrifices” (Malachi 3:3).

    Sefer HaMitzvot LaRambam Mitzvat Asei 195
    And the 195th mitzvah is that we are commanded to do charity and to support the weak and help them. And the commandment of this mitzvah already came in other terminologies. It is written (Re’eh 15:8) ‘You shall open your hands…’ and it says (Behar 25:35) ‘And you shall support the stranger and the resident…’ and it says (ibid. 36) ‘And your brother shall live with you.’ And the intentions of these terminologies are one, that we should help the poor and support them with their needs.

    Shulchan Orech Yoreh De’ah 247:1
    It is a positive mitzvah to give charity according to your capability, and we were commanded to do this a couple times as a positive commandment. And there is a negative commandment to one who averts his eyes from him [the poor], as it says ‘You shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand’ (Devarim 15:7).

    Saving Lives

    Vayikra 19:16
    You shall not be a tale-bearer among your people; you shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor; I am Adonai.

    Rashi Vayikra 19:16
    You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow’s blood: i.e., do not stand by watching your fellow’s death, when you are able to save him; for example, if he is drowning in the river or if a wild beast or robbers come upon him. — [Torath Kohanim 19:41; Sanh. 73a]

    Devarim 4:15
    And you shall watch yourselves very well.

    Mishna Massekhet Sanhedrin 4:5
    Therefore man was created singly, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if he had destroyed a full world; and whoever saves one soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if he had saved a full world.

    Mishna Massekhet Sotah 9:6
    The elders of that town washed their hands in water at the place where the neck of the heifer was broken, and they said, “Our hands have not shed this blood neither have our eyes seen it.” But could it be that the elders of a Court were shedders of blood? But, “He came not into our hands that we should have dismissed him without sustenance, and we did not see him and leave him without escort!” And the priests say, “Atone for your people Israel whom you redeem to God and do not allow for there to be innocent blood spilled amongst the people of Israel.”

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Sanhedrin 73a
    ‘Whence do we know that if a man sees his neighbour drowning, mauled by beasts, or attacked by robbers, he is bound to save him? From the verse, Thou shalt not stand by the blood of thy neighbour.’ But is it derived from this verse? Is it not rather from elsewhere? Viz., whence do we know [that one must save his neighbour from] the loss of himself? From the verse, and thou shalt restore him to himself! — From that verse I might think that it is only a personal obligation, but that he is not bound to take the trouble of hiring men [if he cannot deliver him himself]: therefore, this verse teaches that he must.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Yoma 82a
    Nothing stands before [the duty of] saving life except for idolatry, incest and murder.

    Mishneh Torah: Hilkhot Rotzeakh uShmirat Nefesh (Laws of the Murderer and Protecting Life) 1:14
    Whenever a person can save another person’s life but fails to do so, he transgresses a negative commandment, as Leviticus 19:16 states: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” Similarly, [this commandment applies] when a person sees a colleague drowning at sea or being attacked by robbers or a wild animal, and he can save him himself or can hire others to save him and does not. Similarly, [it applies] when he hears [others] conspiring to harm a colleague or planning a snare for him, and he does not inform him and notify him [of the danger]. And similarly this is true if he knows of others scheming to harm a friend and can appease the conspirator and prevent him from carrying out the plot and does not and all things in this vein, the one who does these things transgresses the commandment of “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” [AJWS translation]

    Mishneh Torah: Hilkhot Rotzeakh uShmirat Nefesh (Laws of the Murderer and Protecting Life) 11:4
    This requirement applies to a roof, and similarly, to any place that might present a danger and cause a person to stumble and die. For example, if a person has a well or a cistern in his courtyard, he must erect a sand wall ten handbreadths high around them or make a cover for them, so that a person will not fall in and die.
    Similarly, it is a positive mitzvah to remove any obstacle that could pose a danger to life, and to be very careful regarding these matters, as Deuteronomy 4:9 states: “Beware for yourself; and guard your soul.” If a person leaves a dangerous obstacle and does not remove it, he negates the observance of a positive commandment, and violates the negative commandment: “Do not cause blood to be spilled.”

    Rambam’s Commentary to the Mishna Massekhet Nedarim 4:4
    And this is included in the explanation of the verse (Devarim 22:2) ‘And you shall return it to him’ to heal his body, that he is in danger when you see him and you can save him either with your body, your money or your wisdom.

    Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Vayikra 19:16
    You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow’s blood – the one who gossipmongers endangers his friend, if not maliciously, then at least by indifference. However, it is not enough for a person to just not gossipmonger and just not endanger his fellow’s life, rather we are told not to stand by… don’t stand idly by at a time when your fellow’s life is in danger.

    Tikkun Olam

    Mishna Massekhet Avot 2:4 [5]
    Do not separate yourself from the community.

    Mishna Massekhet Avot 2:10 [13]
    Your friend’s honor should be as dear to you as your own.

    Mishna Massekhet Avot 2:12 [15]
    Rabbi Yose said:
    “Let your friend’s property be as precious to you as your own;
    Give yourself to studying the Torah, for it does not come to you by inheritance;
    And let all your deeds be done in the name of Heaven.”

    Mishna Massekhet Avot 4:1
    Ben Zoma said:
    “Who is wise? The one who learns from all people …
    “Who is mighty? The one who subdues the evil inclination…
    “Who is rich? The one who rejoices in his portion…
    “Who is honored? The one who honors other human beings…”

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Ta’anit 11a
    When the community is in trouble do not say, “I will go home and eat and drink and all will be well with me.”…Rather, involve yourself in the community’s distress as was demonstrated by Moses . . . In this way Moses said, “Since Israel is in trouble, I will share their burden.” Anyone who shares a community’s distress will be rewarded and will witness the community’s consolation.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Shabbat 54b
    Whoever can prevent her household from committing a sin but does not, is responsible for the sins of his household; if he can prevent his fellow citizens, he is responsible for the sins of his fellow citizens; if the whole world, he is responsible for the sins of the whole world.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Shavuot 39a
    All Israel is responsible one for the other.

    Yalkut Shimoni, Divrei HaYamim Bet, Remez 1085
    Rabbi Yochanan said: Why does it say “And they did not come close to one another the whole night”? The angels were asking to sing a song, God said to them, the work of my hands is drowning in the sea and you want to sing songs in front of me?

    Daily Prayer “Alenu LeShabeach
    The Alenu prayer concludes every synagogue prayer service and reminds us of our most sacred obligations with these words: “To fix the world under God’s sovereignty.”

    Man’s Purpose: Bereshit Chapter 2
    4. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, on the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. 5. Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because the Lord God had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil. 7. And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life, and man became a living soul. 15. Now the Lord God took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to work it.

    Responsibility to Care For and Preserve the World: Kohellet Rabba 7:13
    When the Holy One created the human being, he took him and led him around all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: Behold my works, how beautiful they are. All that I have created is within your domain. Take care, therefore, that you do no destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one else to set it right after you.

    Personal vs. Communal Responsibility: Mishna Massekhet Avot 1:13
    If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

    Walking in God’s Ways: Talmud Bavli Massekhet Sotah 14a
    Rabbi Hama, son of Rabbi Hanina, said: What does the Torah mean when it says: “You shall walk in the ways of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 13:5) Can a person really walk in the shadow of the Divine Presence? Rather, it means that you should imitate the ways of God. Just as God clothed the naked, as it says: “And God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them,” (Genesis 3:21) so you shall clothe the naked. Just as God visited the sick, “And God appeared before Abraham [after his circumcision],” so you should visit the sick; just as God buried the dead, as it says: “And God buried Moses in the valley,” so you should bury the dead; and just as God comforts the grieving, as it says: “After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son,” so you too comfort the grieving.

    Harmony: Rav Abraham Isaac Kook Orot HaKodesh, Vol. 2, p. 458-459
    There is one who sings the song of his own life, and in himself, he finds everything, his full spiritual satisfaction.
    There is another, who sings the song of his people. He leaves the circle of his own individual self, because he finds it without sufficient breadth, without an idealistic basis. He aspires to towards the heights, and he attaches himself with a gentle love to the whole community of Israel. Together with Israel he sings her songs. He feels grieved over her afflictions and delights in her hopes. He contemplates noble and pure thoughts about her past and her future, and process with love and wisdom her inner spiritual essence.
    There is another who reaches towards more distant realms, and he goes beyond the boundary of Israel to sing the song of humanity. His spirit extends to the wilder vistas of the majesty of humankind, and their noble essence. He aspires toward humanity’s general goal and looks forward toward their higher perfection. From the source of life he draws the subjects of his meditation and study, his aspiration and his visions.
    Then there is one who rises toward wilder horizons, until he links himself with all existence, with all God’s creatures, with all worlds, and he sings his song with all of them.
    It is of such a one as this that tradition has said that whoever sings a portion of song each day is assured of having a share in the world to come.
    And then there is one who rises with these songs in one ensemble, and they all join their voices. Together they sing their songs with beauty; each one lends vitality and life to the other. They are sounds of joy and gladness, sounds of jubilation and celebration, sounds of ecstasy and holiness.

    Requirement to Help Those in Need: Talmud Bavli Massekhet Sanhedrin 73a
    How do we know that if a person sees another person drowning, mauled by beasts, or attacked by robbers, s/he is bound to save him? From the verse, “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor!” (Leviticus 19:16).

    Indifference: Abraham Joshua Heschel
    “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

    Relationships with Non-Jews

    Worldly Mission: Bereshit 12:2
    I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great and you will be a blessing.

    Light Unto the Nations: Yeshayahu 42:6
    I the Lord have called to you b’tzedek. I have taken you by the hand, created you, and appointed you a covenant people, and a light of nations.

    Devarim 1:16-17
    I charged your magistrates at that time as follows, “Hear out your fellows, and decide justly between any person and a fellow Israelite or a stranger. You shall not be partial in judgment: hear out low and high alike. Fear no person, for judgment is God’s. And any matter that is too difficult for you, you shall bring to me and I will hear it.”

    Responsibility: Talmud Bavli Massekhet Shabbat 54b
    Whoever can prevent her household from committing a sin but does not, is responsible for the sins of her household; if she can prevent her fellow citizens, she is responsible for the sins of her fellow citizens; if the whole world, she is responsible for the sins of the whole world.

    For the Sake of Peace: Talmud Bavli Massekhet Gittin 61a
    Our Rabbis taught: We sustain the non-Jewish poor with the Jewish poor, visit the non-Jewish sick with the Jewish sick, and bury the non-Jewish dead with the Jewish dead, for the sake of peace.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Sukkah 55b
    R. Eleazar stated, to what do those seventy bullocks [that were offered during the seven days of the Festival] correspond? To the seventy nations. To what does the single bullock [of the Eighth Day] correspond? To the unique nation. This may be compared to a mortal king who said to his servants, ‘Prepare for me a great banquet’; but on the last day he said to his beloved friend, ‘Prepare for me a simple meal that I may derive benefit from you’. R. Johanan observed, Woe to the idolaters, for they had a loss and do not know what they have lost. When the Temple was in existence the altar atoned for them, but now who shall atone for them?

    Tosefta Baba Kamma 10:8
    Stealing from a non-Jew is worse than stealing from a Jew because of the profanation of God’s name.

    Mishneh Torah: Hilkhot Melakhim uMilkhamot (Laws of Kings and Their Wars) 10:12
    Our sages commanded us to visit the non-Jewish sick and to bury the non-Jewish dead along with the Jewish dead, and support the non-Jewish poor along with the Jewish poor for the sake of peace. Behold, [Psalms 145:9] states: “God is good to all and God’s mercies extend over all God’s works” and [Proverbs 3:17] states: “[The Torah’s] ways are pleasant ways and all its paths are peace.”

    Universal Experience: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, from A. Besdin (ed.), Man of Faith in the Modern World: Reflections of the Rav
    The Modern Jew is entangled in the activities of the Gentile society in numerous ways – economically, politically, culturally, and on some levels, socially. We share in the universal experience. The problems of humanity, war and peace, political stability or anarchy, morality or permissiveness, famine, epidemics, and pollution transcend the boundaries of ethnic groups. A stricken environment, both physical and ideological, can wreak havoc upon all groups…It is our duty as human beings to contribute our energies and creativity to alleviate the pressing needs and anguish of mankind and to contribute to its welfare.

    Coping

    Presence Heals: Iyyov 2:13
    They sat with him on the ground for a period of seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

    Talmud Bavli Massekhet Nedarim 40a
    Rabin quoted Rab, “From where in Scripture do we know that the Blessed Holy One sustains the sick? As it is said, “The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed.” (Psalm 41:4) Rabin also said in Rab’s name, “From where in Scripture do we know that the Divine Presence (Shekhinah) rests above an invalid’s bed?” As it is said, “The Lord will sustain Him[self] upon his sickbed.” (ibid.)

    Distracter vs. Attender: Yoma 75a
    Anxiety in the heart of man weighs him down [but a good word makes him glad] (Mishlei 12:25). R. Ammi and R. Assi differ in the interpretation of this verse: one rendered it, ‘let him banish the anxiety from his mind; the other, ‘let him discuss it with others.’

    The truest sympathy we can show is precisely that of our shared humanity: Talmud Bavli Massekhet Berakhot 5b
    When Rabbi Hiyya b. Abba was sick, Rabbi Yohanan went to visit him. He asked him: “Are your sufferings welcome to you?” He replied: “Neither they nor their reward!” He said to him: “Give me your hand.” He gave him his hand and he raised him.
    When Rabbi Yohanan was sick, Rabbi Hanina went to visit him. He asked him: “Are your sufferings welcome to you?” He replied: “Neither they nor their reward!” He said to him: “Give me your hand.” He gave him his hand and he raised him. Why couldn’t Rabbi Yohanan raise himself? As they say, “The prisoner cannot free himself from jail.”
    When Rabbi Eliezer fell ill, Rabbi Yohanan went to visit him and saw that he was lying in a dark room. Rabbi Yohanan uncovered his arm and [by virtue of Yohanan’s beauty,] light fell upon [the prostrate Rabbi Eliezer]. Yohanan noticed that Rabbi Eliezer was weeping, so he asked him: “Why do you weep? . . . He answered, “I am crying for this beauty that is going to molder in the dust.” He said to him: “For that you should weep!” And so they wept together. In the meanwhile he asked him: “Are your sufferings welcome to you?” He replied: “Neither they nor their reward.” He said to him: “Give me your hand.” He gave him his hand and he raised him.

    God’s Presence: The First of the Rambam’s Thirteen Principles
    I believe with perfect faith that God is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.

    Nisayon’ vs. ‘Nes’: Bereshit Rabbah 55:1
    “And God tested Avraham” it is written, “You gave those who fear you a banner (nes) to raise on high, in order to be adorned (Psalms 60), nisayon (test) after nisayon, i.e. growth after growth, in order to raise them up in the world

    Orchot Tzadikim, Shaar ha-Teshuvah, Shaar 26
    Troubles are for the long-term benefit of the individual. As it says, “Rejoice not against me, my enemy; for when I fall, I will get up; when I sit in darkness, God will be a light to me” (Mikha 7:8). Our Rabbis, of blessed memory taught us, “If I had not fallen I would not have picked myself up. If I did not sit in darkness I would not have seen the light.”

    Metzudat David Mishlei 12:25
    ‘But a good word’ refers to knowing how to find the strength to divert this strong emotion in an effort to transpose the worry into a positive emotion by appreciating the fact that good can grow out of this experience, and thus to transform the worry into simcha.

    Social Coping: Kohellet 4:9-10
    Two are better than one, for they get a greater return for their labor. For should they fall, one can lift the other; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and there is no one to lift him!

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      The Lookstein Center is dedicated to providing critical supports for Jewish educators as they learn, teach, and lead in the twenty-first century to ensure an engaged and educated Jewish community.

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      The Lookstein Center
      Bar Ilan University
      Ramat Gan 5290002, Israel
      Phone: +972-3-531-8199
      US Number: +1-646-568-9737
      Fax :+972-3-535-1912
      info@lookstein.org