When someone we know is sick, it is a great act of kindness - and a mitzvah - to pay him a visit. In this week's Torah portion, as Abraham is recuperating from an operation, God pays Abraham a special visit. Our sages teach us that visiting the sick actually helps to cure them and the Torah wants us to both have compassion on the sick and to put that compassion into action with a healing visit.

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In our story, some kids discover how healing a visit can be.


Greg flipped down the cards. Another winner in the game of solitaire. "Yippee," he sighed. He felt like he'd already played every game he owned (those you could play by yourself, that is). He read every book - even the boring ones - cover to cover and listened to all his music until he knew the songs by heart, and he still had three more long, lonely weeks to spend cooped up in bed before the doctors said he could get up from his operation.

Sure, his parents tried to make it as comfortable as possible for him. They got him new, colorful sheets and blankets, lots of toys and even a special remote control unit so he could turn everything in his room on and off from his bed. But still, between the pain in his legs and the lonely prospect of the weeks ahead, Greg just didn't know how he was going to possibly get through it. He needed ... well, he didn't know what he needed, but he knew he needed something.

As Greg lay in bed, outside in a park his friends were playing football. "Pass the ball!" shouted Larry, waving his hands in the air.

Phil tossed the football in a long, high arc, but before it could reach its intended target, a pair of long, agile arms appeared from out of nowhere and snatched it in midair.

"Hey, Josh!" laughed Larry. "Where did you come from, man? Anyway, you're just in time to join us in a serious game of catch!"

"Sounds good - but I think we all have something even more serious to do."

The guys looked at him, confused.

"I heard Greg got out of the hospital a few days ago..." he said as Larry and Phil nodded solemnly at the news of their classmate who'd been hit by a car. "I think we should go visit him, you know - to cheer him up. What do you say?"

Larry and Phil began squirming like a couple of earthworms.

"Gee, I feel really bad for the guy..." said Phil "but visit him? I dunno ... it's kinda funny, I wouldn't even know what to say."

"Yeah," added Larry. "Anyway, he probably just wants some peace and quiet. Besides, like ... we're really into this game now. Could you hand me back the ball?"

Josh took a step back, keeping the ball out of the kid's reach.

"Come on guys, what's with you? A kid we've been going to school with for almost ten years is laid up and for sure lonely, and all you can think about is a game of football? Come on, his house is only five minutes away if we cut through the woods - and besides, don't you guys ever want to see your football again?"

With that, Josh began walking fast, with his friends close behind, half because of their conscience and half to keep an eye on their ball.

Back in Greg's bedroom, he looked at the clock on his wall. "Is it really only eleven o'clock? This day is dragging even worse than yesterday!" Greg thought to himself. "Ow!" He felt a stabbing pain in his leg. How was he going to get through the day? He felt the tears coming and quickly lifted the pillow up to his face to muffle his crying. Yesterday his mom got so upset when she heard him crying. Suddenly he heard the doorbell ring, then a couple of kids' voices.

There was a gentle knock on his bedroom door.

"Greg, you have visitors," said his smiling mom as three boys all wearing bright, cheerful expressions - and a football - slowly entered the room.

"We missed you in school and figured maybe you missed us a little bit too," Josh.said.

"Yeah," added Larry, "it's good to see you back home. You, um, want us to sign your cast?"

The guys soon got into an animated conversation and as the time passed - faster than it had for Greg in a long time - he almost forgot about the pain that had been constantly nipping him day and night when he was alone. "Visitors were just what I needed," he thought to himself.

After a while the guys left, only after making up a visiting schedule for them and a bunch of other friends they would bring along. Greg felt so glad they came. The boys did too, after seeing how much they cheered up their friend - even if it took a kidnapped football to get them there.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Greg feel before he had visitors?
A. He felt really sad and lonely.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He felt in a much better mood because his friends came to visit him.


Ages 6-9

Q. Why do you think Greg felt better after his friends visited?
A. When a person is going through a tough illness or injury, he can feel very vulnerable and alone. When people visit him and show they care, it gives him a boost and helps him recover.

Q. Why do you think Phil and Larry hesitated at first?
A. Visiting someone who's not well can feel awkward and/or inconvenient. However doing so is such an act of kindness that it is worth doing it anyway in spite of those feelings and it's almost guaranteed that once we do it, we'll be glad that we did.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. What are some ways we can make an ill person we're visiting feel better?
A. Just showing up and showing we care makes a big difference. Additionally, we can see if he needs help in any way or something done for him and a small gift also leave good feelings. But sometimes the best thing to do for someone is just patiently listen to him and let him share how he feels.

Q. Our sages teach that visiting the sick actually helps them to recover. What do you think this means? A. One meaning is that when a person isn't well, besides his physical weakness he can feel emotionally down, which can make it harder to recover. Knowing - and seeing - that people care enough to visit him can give him the emotional boost he needs to heal properly.


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