Sunday, November 04, 2007

But do You Want ME?

I've been trying to get around to posting a response to those commenters who wanted to know what they SHOULD be doing with cancer patients.

I have given it a lot of thought but I don't feel that I want to put up a post just yet because I know I'm going to get a lot of flack for it.

There is no way I can outline an exact list of rules that will satisfy everyone. Lots of sick kids I know agree with the way I felt about stuff, but there are plenty others who will say that my opinions mean nothing to them.

I will post my feelings, but not just yet. I want to think a bit more about how to put it all down- don't go expecting a great post, I need time to think about what I want to say and how.

In the meantime, I got an email from the anonymous mother of an anonymous blog reader who sent me something she wrote in her daughter's voice. I asked if it was okay to put her email up here and she said she didn't mind if it helped people understand her daughter's feelings better.

Here it is:

Dear JAP,

As I grew older, I learned the difference between first grade and the higher grades. In the younger classes we were taught the parsha primarily in story form, at a more superficial level. In high school, we were able to delve into the Chumash and learn incredible lessons from what were once only stories to us.

This progression was what helped make adults out of what were once children. The problem is, this chain of learning didn't expand into all fields of our lives. This growth must also be taught to students in the pursuit of mitzvos.

When we were very young and one of our classmates were not in school, we were all directed to call and see how she was doing. This was our introduction to the mitzvah of bikur cholim. However, as we grew older, we were never taught about the deeper level of the mitzvah.

The deeper level of understanding would be thinking before calling a classmate who isn't well. As teenagers we develop different friendships and calling every classmate who is out is not as simple as it was when we were in elementary school.

We are not talking about a teen out with a two day virus or a week long flu. No one even bothers to call those girls if they aren't part of one's immediate clique. It's the teen with the terminal illness that reminds everyone else about the simplistic introduction they have all received in Bikur Cholim.

Most people don't realize that a patient isn't always up to fielding phone calls from classmates or grade mates or even acquaintances she doesn't particularly call her friends. Those calls just tire her out while invading her privacy. Even if those girls are directed to call by their teachers, the teachers should really be thinking twice before giving instruction like that.

My question is why people feel the need to call a sick person even if during the regular course of life they would never stop to say hello to them in the street?

Being mekayim the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim is said to take away 1/60th of the person's illness. However, if the choleh is being caused aggravation by the visit or call, the mitvah is far from being fulfilled.

What I think is that the teachers and mechanchos in our schools need to start teaching Bikur Cholim on the kind of deeper level that we learn parsha and halacha and all those other important subjects we study.

Students should be taught to think into what they do, just as they are taught to think into every medrash on the posuk in Chumash. We need to start being honest with ourselves. Mitzvos bein adam LeMakom are wonderful, but in Mitzvos bein adam LaChaveiro there is the aspect of the other person involved. There is a need to focus on the recipient of the mitzvah and not on ourselves.

In other words, are you here to visit, or are you here for ME?