Nedarim - Daf 40

  • כל מי שאין מבקר חולים כאילו שופך דמים

The Gemara records an incident in which a student of Rebbe Akiva fell ill, and none of the other students went to visit him. Rebbe Akiva himself visited him, and after he cleaned the room, the student recovered. The student told Rebbe Akiva, “You have brought me back to life!” whereupon Rebbe Akiva publicly announced, כל מי שאין מבקר חולים כאילו שופך דמים – Anyone who does not visit the sick, is as if he spills blood! Similarly, Rav Dimi said: כל המבקר את החולה גורם לו שיחיה – Anyone who visits the sick causes him to live, וכל שאינו מבקר את החולה גורם לו שימות – and anyone who does not visit the sick causes him to die. The Gemara clarifies that by visiting the sick and seeing his condition, he will more likely daven for his recovery. But if he does not visit him, אין מבקש עליו רחמים לא שיחיה ולא שימות – he does not beseech Hashem’s mercy that he should live, nor that he should die. The Ran explains that there can be times, if the patient is suffering greatly and is beyond hope of recovery, that it is appropriate to daven for his death in order to end his suffering. One who does not visit the sick will not even provide him this assistance.

  • The reward of one who performs ביקור חולים

Rav said: כל המבקר את החולה ניצול מדינה של גיהנם – Anyone who visits the sick is saved from the judgement of Gehinnom. ואם ביקר מה שכרו – And if he did visit, what is his reward? The Gemara clarifies that the question is what reward he receives in this world, in addition to being protected from Gehinnom. His reward is learned from the following pasuk (which immediately follows a pasuk praising visiting the sick)' "ה' ישמרהו ויחייהו ואושר בארץ ואל תתנהו בנפש אויביו" – Hashem will guard him and bring him to life, and he will be fortunate in the land, and You will not deliver him to his enemies’ desires. The Gemara expounds the individual phrases: "Hashem will guard him" from the Yetzer Hora. ”And He will bring him to life” from suffering. ”And he will be fortunate in the land,” that all with be honored though him. “And You will not deliver him to his enemies,” that he will encounter friends such as Naaman’s, who healed his tzara’as by encouraging him to obey Elisha’s directive to bathe in the Jordan River, and he will not encounter friends such as Rechavam’s, who divided his kingdom by advising him to refuse the people’s petition to lighten their burden.

  • Tevilah in rivers possibly disqualified by rainwater

Ravin said in the name of Rav: מטרא במערבא סהדא רבה פרת – When rain falls in the West (i.e., Eretz Yisroel), the Euphrates is a great witness thereof. The Euphrates River increases in volume as a result of the rain in Eretz Yisroel. If the rainwater may be the majority of the river volume, the river would become disqualified as a mikveh, because rainwater is only valid when stationary (as opposed to rivers fed by natural springs). The Gemara says this statement does not accord with Shmuel, who said נהרא מכיפיה מתבריך – a river is increased from its bedrock, meaning, a greater amount of the increase is from natural sources than rainwater. The Gemara notes that this contradicts Shmuel’s own statement that a flowing river is only valid if it is like the Euphrates during Tishrei. The Ran explains this to mean that it must be known that the river never fully dries without a known cause, and one who does not know its lowest level can only immerse in the river in Tishrei, when one can be sure that the majority of the water is natural. We see that Shmuel is otherwise concerned for a majority of rainwater. The Ran explains that Shmuel was not willing to rely on his lenient ruling in practice. Similarly, Shmuel’s father constructed mikvaos for his daughters during Nissan and did not allow them to immerse in the Euphrates.