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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim
When R. Dimi came,2 he said: He who visits the sick causes him to live, whilst he who does not causes him to die. How does he cause [this]? Shall we say that he who visits the sick prays3 that he may live, whilst he who does not prays that he should die, — 'that he should die!' can you really think so? But [say thus:] He who does not visit the sick prays neither that he may live nor die.4
Whenever Raba fell sick, on the first day he would ask that his sickness should not be made known to any one lest his fortune be impaired.5 But after that, he said to them [his servants], 'Go, proclaim my illness in the market place, so that whoever is my enemy may rejoice, and it is written, Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth … Lest the Lord see it, and it displeases him, and he turn away his wrath from him.6 whilst he who loves me will pray for me.
Rab said: He who visits the sick will be delivered from the punishments of Gehenna, for it is written, Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the day of evil.7 'The poor' [dal] means none but the sick, as it is written, He will cut me off from pining sickness [mi-dalah];8 or from this verse: Why art thou so poorly [dal], thou son of the King?9 Whilst 'evil' refers to Gehenna, for it is written, The Lord hath made all things for himself' Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.10 Now, if one does visit, what is his reward? [You ask,] 'what is his reward?' Even as hath been said; 'he will be delivered from the punishment of Gehenna!' — But what is his reward in this world? — The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.11 'The Lord will preserve him'. — from the Evil Urge, 'and keep him alive' — [saving him] from sufferings; 'and he shall be blessed upon the' earth,' — that all will take pride in him;12 'and the wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies', — that he may procure friends like Naaman's, who healed his leprosy; and not chance upon friends like Rehoboam's, who divided his kingdom.
It was taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: If the young tell you to build, and the old to destroy, hearken to the elders, but hearken not to the young, for the building of youth is destruction, whilst the destruction of the old is building. And a sign for the matter is Rehoboam the son of Solomon.13
R. Shisha son of R. Idi said: One should not visit the sick during the first three or the last three hours [of the day], lest he thereby omit to pray14 for him. During the first three hours of the day his [the invalid's] illness is alleviated; in the last three hours his sickness is most virulent.15
Rabin said in Rab's name: Whence do we know that the Almighty sustains the sick? From the verse, The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing.16 Rabin also said in Rab's name: Whence do we know that the Divine Presence rests above an invalid's bed? From the verse, The Lord doth set himself upon the bed of languishing.17 It was taught likewise: He who visits the sick must not sit upon the bed, or on a stool or a chair, but must [reverently] robe himself and sit upon the ground, because the Divine Presence rests above an invalid's bed, as it is written, The Lord doth set himself upon the bed of languishing.
Rabin also said in Rab's name: [The swelling of] the Euphrates testifies abundantly to rain in the West.18 Now, he disagrees with Samuel, who said: A river increases [in volume] from its bed.19 Now, Samuel is self-contradictory. For Samuel said: Running water does not purify,
Nedarim 40bexcept the Euphrates in Tishri.1 Samuel's father made mikwaoth for his daughters in Nisan2 and had mats set for them in the days of Tishri.3
R. Ammi said in Rab's name: What is meant by the verse, Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing?4 This is a lamp, plate and
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