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To Comfort, To Cure

by: Miriam Dansky

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Bikur cholim, visiting the sick, is a potent and powerful form of medicine. The Sages say that visiting a sick person takes away one-sixtieth of his illness, and modern research has shown a clear connection between a person's emotional and physical health.

Bikur cholim is also, of course, a Divinely mandated mitzvah, one of the few for which we are promised to enjoy "the fruits in this world, and the principal in the World to Come." But how do we do it? And how do we do it right?

To Comfort, To Cure shares the experiences of those who have been on the receiving end of the mitzvah - the people who have been sick themselves and their families. In their own words, we learn what a person should say and do when visiting the sick - and what behavior should be avoided. We meet a patient who underwent chemotherapy, a burn victim, a young man who spent several months in a coma, and the mother of a chronically ill son. We see how a community can band together and help a stranger who fell ill far away from home; we share the day-to-day challenges of a family coping with long-term illness. In all these fascinating and honest accounts the message comes through: you can do so much to help, but you've got to know how to do it.

To Comfort, To Cure shows us how to harness the incomparable power of bikur cholim. It allows us to enter the world of those we have come to help, sensitizing us to their needs and helping us to be truly effective "medicine" for those we care for.

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