Shabbos page 12: A New Understanding of Shabbos

Shabbos 12 contains a perplexing Braisa that says one may not visit the sick on Shabbos.  The Talmud  cuts back on this and explains that if one does visit the sick, one should say: May the shabos heal you or  peace be with you. One would think that this is the highest level of a shabbos experience.

Due to the current circumstances, the SD heard the shiur online from Rabbi Grossman (Z’l).  Rabbi Grossman explains that visiting the sick, calling  out with the sick in prayer is an intense physical and emotional experience.  According to Rabbi Grossman, it appears that the Talmud envisioned a visit with intense prayer, intense conversation… all of which the Rabbis felt was only appropriate for weekday behavior and not for shabbos behavior. Even Rashi says that such actions will call pain.

This is a radical change  in how we view Shabbos and shabbos activities.  It is common in the SD community for people walk to hospital and nursing homes and spend literally hours visiting the sick.  It is such a foreign idea to the SD that such behavior would not be appropriate for Shabbat.

The answer lies in our understanding of Shabbos.    Clearly the Rabbis of the Talmud and Mishna envisioned a day of intense introspection, quiet, peace, tranquility. They must have envisioned a day of not much  physical commotion or walking. A day of true re-invigoration of the self.

The second element is that the Rabbis saw visiting the sick as a weekday event.   Many of us work and might say we don’t have time to do this during the week and need Shabbos to do bikur cholim. The answer the Rabbis are saying is that just as we work, do laundry, go the gym on weekdays, we must find time to do bikur cholim as well.  We cannot say I will have time on Shabbos to do this.  We must make time during the week for concern of others.

This Braisa is both a new look at Shabbos and a new look at how we view our weekday events.

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