Bikur Cholim Through a Shaliach

Q. Can one fulfill the mitzvah of bikur cholim by sending a representative to visit the sick in your place?

A. This question (as well as the previous Halacha Yomis discussion about fulfilling bikur cholim with a phone call) was posed in 1952 by the Rebbi of Chechenav, Rav Shalom Yechezkel Shraga Rubin Halberstam, to a number of poskim, and each one responded in their own way. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe YD 1:223) responded that since the messenger also has a personal obligation of bikur cholim, one visit cannot absolve two obligations (of the messenger and the sender) at the same time. Even if one hires someone to visit the sick, the actual mitzvah of bikur cholim will accrue to the visitor, but the sender will be partially rewarded for facilitating the visit by paying for the visit. The Chelkas Yaakov (YD 188) responded that davening for the person who is sick is one of the primary aspects of bikur cholim, and the optimal manner of tefilah is in the presence of the choleh (person who is ill). The Shechina (the Divine Presence) rests above the head of a sick person, and therefore tefillos recited in the presence of the choleh are more meaningful.


The Gerald & Karin Feldhamer OU Kosher Halacha Yomis is dedicated to the memory of Rav Yisroel Belsky, zt"l, who served as halachic consultant for OU Kosher for more than 28 years; many of the responses in Halacha Yomis are based on the rulings of Rabbi Belsky. Subscribe to the Halacha Yomis daily email here.