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What is the proper attitude for a very ill person?


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Rabbi Gurkow: Welcome to the Rabbi's one on one chat room, how can I help you today?

CCRed: in jewish religion, if someone is sick and dying, is there anything they can or should do before they pass on?

CCRed: what can we do to help this person?

Rabbi Gurkow: we pray and give charity on their behalf

Rabbi Gurkow: we add a name to the person at the Torah1

Rabbi Gurkow: and if the person is at death's door then we read the viduy, the confession, with him or her

CCRed: and this will help them in their passing? is this all that can be done?

Rabbi Gurkow: this will hopefully help them to overcome their illness but if G-d forbid they do not overcome then this will help them in their passing

CCRed: so if it is there time, then there is nothing that we can do or say to help them? we must accept it at g-d's will?

Rabbi Gurkow: of course untill one has already passed away there is no way of telling that it is their time and we pray in the fervent hope that it is not their time and that they will survive this and recover

Rabbi Gurkow: but if they do indeed pass away then we know that it was their time.

CCRed: i know we cant change their time. i guess its up to us to make their last few days as fulfilling as possible

Rabbi Gurkow: no, untill we know for cetain that it is their time it is up to us to pray that it is not their time

CCRed: so there's always hope... even if it seems impossible...

Rabbi Gurkow: that is what the Talmud teaches

Rabbi Gurkow: the talmud tells a story of Chizkiah the king of Judah who was ill

Rabbi Gurkow: he was visited by Isaiah the propeht and the prophet told him that his time was up

Rabbi Gurkow: the king asked the prophet to pray with him and the prophet said, didn't you hear, your time is up, what's the point of praying?

Rabbi Gurkow: the king asked the peophet to leave saying that he had a tradition in his home that even when a sharp knife is drawn across one's throat he should not stop praying for a miracle

Rabbi Gurkow: indeed the king got out of bed and stood before the wall and prayed

Rabbi Gurkow: ...and he lived for another 22 years!

CCRed: i guess its just that nowadays, when a doctor says that someone is going to die, you believe him

Rabbi Gurkow: doctors are not meant to give death sentences... they are authorized only to heal

CCRed: you don't want to believe it but you do

Rabbi Gurkow: that is up to you, according to torah you should not believe

CCRed: does trying to fulfill someone's last wishes before they die defy G-d-- becuase we dont actually know when they are going to die?

Rabbi Gurkow: it is not wrong to fulfill someone's last wishes provided their wish is not to be kiled by your hand

CCRed: thank you Rabbi, its comforting to know that there is always hope

Rabbi Gurkow: there is always hope

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.


  • 1. See "What is the reason for adding a name to a critically ill indvidual?" (


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
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1. The fourth son of Jacob and Leah. He was blessed by Jacob to be the leader of the tribes. Consequently, the Davidic royal dynasty is from the tribe of Judah. 2. The southern part of Israel which was occupied by the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and always remained under the reign of the kings from the tribe of Judah.
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It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.