Bikur Cholim on Shabbos

Q. Are there any differences in halacha when visiting the sick on Shabbos?

A. The Gemara (Shabbos 12b) states in the name of Rebbi Chanina that it was with difficulty that Chazal permitted visiting the sick on Shabbos. This is because bikur cholim is often distressful, and one is not permitted to cause themselves sadness on Shabbos. Magen Avrohom (287) writes that if one can only visit once, either during the week or on Shabbos, it is preferable to visit on a weekday and not delay the visit till Shabbos since Chazal allowed Shabbos visits with much reluctance. However, if it is possible to visit both during the week and on Shabbos, one should do so, because that is in the best interest of the choleh.

When davening for a choleh on Shabbos, whether or not they are present, one may not pray directly for a recovery because it may lead to crying (Shulchan Aruch Harav, 287:1). Rather the appropriate tefillah for Shabbos is, “Shabbos is not a time for crying out, and healing should occur quickly.” Shulchan Aruch (OC 287:1) writes that one should also add, “Hashem’s mercy is great and spend Shabbos in peace.” However, the Rema writes that the custom is to omit this last phrase. Kaf Hacahim (287:7) explains that even this brief addition of the Shulchan Aruch is considered a prayer, and we do not pray for the sick on Shabbos.


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.