Visiting the sick - Bikur Cholim - is the type of Mitzvah that often/usually cannot be done by others (since every person potentially makes a difference), and therefore one has an obligation to do so even if one could be using the time to learn Torah.

The parameters of that can be asked separately.

My question is: What about if the Bikur Cholim causes the Choleh to stop learning?

e.g., one walks into the ward and the Choleh is learning and doesn't notice one's entry.

May one interrupt them? Should one?

Or should one wait until he takes a pause?

Can one leave (if pressed for time) without having been noticed?

In other words: May I cause the Choleh to do Bitul Torah in order for me to do the Mitzvah?

I'm assuming this question only applies to a Choleh, as a Cholah doesn't have the same obligation of continuous Torah-study.

  • "cannot be done by others " - do you mean a Shaliach? Why not?
    – Al Berko
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:11
  • 1
    I don't recall that speaking or otherwise disturbing the Chole makes the Mitzvah. The coming itself is what matters. (Easing and cheering is Mitzvahs on their own in addition to Bikur). Also it is a Gavra Mitzvah not Chaftze, meaning one should come visit, but not "Chole must feel better". So seems that not disturbing fulfills the Mitzvah just fine!
    – Al Berko
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:25
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    Forgot to add that my opinion is based on the Gemmorah that every visitor takes 1/60th of the disease.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


Apart from speaking to the sick person, there are other activities involved in Bikkur Cholim that can be fulfilled without interrupting his learning.

For example taken from Hidabroot הלכות ביקור חולים

טז עיקר מצות ביקור חולים היא לצורכו של החולה, לראות מה יוכל לעשות עבורו, (וכן לעודד את רוחו), ולבקש עליו רחמים.......

16: The idea of Bikkur Cholim is for the need of the sick person, to see if there is anything that can be done for him, (to strengthen his spirit), to pray for him …...

I suggest that the visitor should inquire of the medical staff if there is anything that the sick person needs and should pray for the sick person without disturbing him from his learning. It might also be possible to strengthen his spirit [just by being there; he sees the visitor but does not stop learning].

  • כחבריה דאיוב who didn't speak first
    – kouty
    Feb 13, 2019 at 20:49

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