Sickness can have a deep spiritual benefit when faced with a Jewish perspective. Jewish guidance for the sick also shows us how much the Torah is concerned for a sick patient’s welfare.

Torah (and Halacha) for Sick Patients

When you’re facing a health challenge, part of the difficulty is sometimes wondering, “Why did this have to happen?” It seems like it would be so much better if you, and everyone else, were able to be hale, hearty and productive all the time. Why waste time in bed or in the doctor’s office?

It may feel like a waste of your life. But with the Jewish perspective towards sickness, you’ll realize that there’s actually a great deal that one can accomplish through the sickness itself.

Jewish tradition teaches that every single person has a mission to fulfill in his lifetime. Each person’s mission is unique, and no one can accomplish what another is supposed to accomplish. For some, dealing with a health challenge is an important part of their life’s mission, and without getting sick, they would not be able to fulfill their mission in life.

How can being sick help you fulfill their mission? There are many ways for you to accomplish this. The most basic way to create something positive and beneficial through sickness is by realizing that the sickness is Hashem’s ratzon (will). When you accept Hashem’s ratzon, believing that He knows what’s best for you even when it’s difficult to see how, that is an extremely powerful merit. This awareness makes you into a better person who is closer to Hashem and more accepting of His will.

Even more than just accepting your situation as Hashem’s ratzon, you can actually turn the experience of being sick into an opportunity for growth. When your life is just fine and dandy and you have no worries at all, you might subconsciously feel like you don’t need Hashem’s help. But when you are sick, you constantly know that you need Hashem’s help to recover, regain full health, and to enjoy a good quality of life. You’re more likely to turn to Hashem through passionate prayer as you seek healing, which brings you to a closer relationship with Him.

Aside from prayer, sickness can also be an opportunity for gratitude, as you realize what a gift health and life are. This can be a catalyst for thanking Hashem and appreciating all His blessing to you, which is another way of drawing closer to Him.

Finding the spiritual meaning in your sickness in this way doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything or put in any effort to get healed. In fact, the halacha (Jewish law) for sick patients is that you must go to a doctor. This is because of the mitzvah (commandment) to safeguard your health, even though Hashem is the One Who ultimately decides whether one is healthy or not.

This halacha for sick patients also applies to pain relief. Although pain can be used to inspire you to come close to Hashem, it can also prevent you from doing mitzvos properly. So there is nothing wrong taking advantage of any pain relief available.

Jewish Medical Ethics

The Torah’s Jewish medical ethics considers it extremely important to care for the sick. If a person is in any kind of medical danger, giving them treatment overrides most other Torah obligations, because it is such a priority.


There are many examples of where we are told that taking care of the sick is of greater value than other mitzvot. Jewish guidance for sick patients almost always puts care for the sick – and the importance of Jewish life – first.


One classic example that demonstrates the importance of preserving Jewish life is that of Shabbat. When a person is sick, even if they are not dangerously ill, there are many laws of Shabbat that don’t apply. You can give medicine and perform other forbidden activities that can make a patient feel better, even though Shabbat is one of the principal mitzvot in the Torah.


Everyone knows how important it is to fast on Yom Kippur, and yet, it is even more important to stay healthy. Sick patients who are told to eat on Yom Kippur know that they too, are doing a great mitzvah, because caring for your health is a great mitzvah in its own right.


These examples show how much Hashem values caring for the sick. This is what Jewish medical ethics are built on: caring for a patient’s life above all.

Jewish Healing for the Sick

Once one has taken the first step of seeking treatment from a doctor, there’s another aspect of Jewish healing for the sick to keep in mind. Even though we go to a physician for healing, Judaism teaches that it isn’t the doctor or the treatment that actually heals. Rather, Hashem is the One that heals us and the doctor only serves as the messenger.

Knowing that the doctor is simply a messenger means that even when a doctor gives a concerning prognosis, you don’t have to give up hope. Hashem can always heal you from your sickness, even without using a doctor as a messenger. This is a most important belief in Jewish rituals for healing, as it prevents you from falling into despair. Having hope gives you a psychological advantage, allowing your mind to help your body heal.

To acknowledge this belief, you can recite Jewish prayers for the sick, asking Hashem to heal you fully, with the recognition that true healing is from Him. Jewish tradition also dictates a prayer that is said before taking medicine or undergoing any kind of medical intervention.

יהי רצון מלפניך ה’  אלוקי שיהא עסק זה לי לרפואה כי רופא חינם אתה


Yehi ratzon milfanecha adonay elohay sheyehai eisek zeh li l’refuah ki rofeh chinam atah.


This text of Jewish prayers for the sick has the following meaning: We ask Hashem that this specific undertaking should heal us, since Hashem heals for free. That means that Hashem can heal even without any medical intervention.

We further express this belief once we are actually healed. When a treatment is successful and a sick patient recovers, there is another text of Jewish prayers for the sick to recite, that is simply three words: “Baruch Rofeh Cholim,” Blessed is the One Who heals the sick. Saying these words upon the success of a treatment affirms our belief that Hashem is the Source of healing, not the treatment.

Reciting Jewish prayers for the sick and remembering that Hashem is in charge of healing is a crucial step in Jewish healing.

Jewish Rituals for Healing

Although Jewish tradition emphasizes medical treatment, there are many segulos, or Jewish rituals for healing, that people have successfully used to gain health. You can find information on general segulos for refuah and Jewish rituals for healing here.


After beginning medical treatment and reinforcing your faith through Jewish prayers for the sick, Jewish tradition advises a sick patient to go to a tzaddik (holy person) for a bracha (blessing). Very often, the tzaddik will offer specific recommendations for healing.


These types of recommendations are individualized instructions detailing what kind of Jewish rituals for healing are best for the specific condition that a person suffers from. Some of them may seem mystical. The rituals may include using havdalah wine on dermatological conditions, saying a specific prayer, or being extra-careful to eat Melava Malka (meal that is eaten to accompany the departure of the Shabbat on Saturday night). Because these Jewish rituals for healing are individual, it’s best to undertake something specific with a tzaddik’s explicit instructions.

Resources for Sick Patients

Aside from knowing that you can rely on Hashem for the ultimate healing, there are more resources that you can tap into as a Jewish sick patient. These include many Jewish organizations that work to help Jewish patients in whatever way they possibly can.


Some organizations are medical referral agencies, helping Jewish people find the right doctors and treatments for their conditions. There are other organizations that help arrange transportation to the hospital, places to stay close by, and provide food for family members. Lending hospital equipment, helping family members keep in touch, providing entertainment for bedridden patients, the gamut of services which organizations deliver is truly astounding.


You can find out about local volunteer groups in your hometown, which often send Kosher food packages to the sick, or visitors to cheer up sick patients.


Because caring for the sick is such an important Jewish value, you never have to feel alone when you are ill. There are so many Jewish resources to take advantage of that will help you feel cared for. 

Visiting the Sick in Judaism

There’s another unique aspect to Jewish healing for the sick – a special mitzvah that applies only to the sick, and that is the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick).


The Talmud tells us that every act of Bikur Cholim takes away one-sixtieth of the illness. Visitors actually improve the sick patient’s health. Properly fulfilling the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim includes reciting Jewish prayers for the sick, or any prayers for healing, at the patient’s bedside, which serves as a further merit to take away illness.


When a sick patient gets visitors, it shows their medical team that this patient is someone people care about, which automatically inspires the medical staff to feel more dedicated to the patient’s care. It also can do wonders for the patient’s psychological wellbeing when their family and friends appear in person to show support.


Despite all of these benefits of having visitors, a sick person may just not feel up to having others visit. That doesn’t mean they have to lose out on the benefits of Bikur Cholim. You can ask those who wish to visit to call instead, which is also a fulfillment of the mitzvah.


If someone doesn’t have the energy to speak on the phone, they can request that potential visitors simply pray for you at home. This too, is considered an act of Bikur Cholim, and contributes to Jewish healing for the sick.


Because visiting the sick in Judaism is considered such a great mitzvah, fulfilling it is a powerful source of merit. Although when someone is actually sick themselves, they probably won’t be able to go visit other sick people, there’s another way to get the benefits of the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.


RMBH Charities has a dedicated program that helps sick patients through sending visitors and care packages to vulnerable patients. This program has hundreds of active volunteers and provides thousands of food packages yearly. Contributing to this program means partnering with people who fulfill the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim by truly lifting the patient’s spirits.


You can have a part in the merit of this mitzvah by donating to the Bikur Cholim program of Rebbe Meir Baal Haness. By helping others even when you are sick, you become worthy of the great blessing of health, and will hopefully merit a refuah sheleima (complete recovery).

Read More about Health & Refuah: