By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
A posuk in this week’s parsha tells us that Hashem visited Avrohom in middle of the day; at the hottest point of the day. The Gemara in Nedarim, daf mem, amud alef gives us guidance concerning when a sick visit should be made. A person should not visit a sick person during the first three hours of the day. The reason for this is because during that time the sick person does not feel or look that sick and it may cause the visitor not to daven for him. A person should not visit during the last three hours of the day because that is when the sick person feels and looks very sick and the person visiting may give up hope. This may cause the visitor not to daven for a refuah shelaima. A person should visit a sick person in the middle of the day as Hashem did when he visited Avrohom.
From the above Gemara it seems that the issue of not being mevaker choleh during the morning and evening is the resulting lack of tefillah of the mevaker for the choleh. Most Rishonim say that one may not daven for a choleh to die. The Ran actually takes this a step further and says in the event that a person is so sick that he is on his deathbed, one should daven that the person should die and his suffering should end. The question arises, how can one daven that a person should die? One thing is for certain; a person may not hasten his death by taking food or drink that will cause him to die. Knowing this, how is it possible that someone may daven for an earlier death; isn’t that causing damage to the sick person?
We find different scenarios in the Gemara that indicate the hastening of death. Upon finding out that he was going to die on Shabbos, David Hamelech davened that he should die a day earlier. Another Gemara tells us that the people of the city of Luz would never die. If someone in the city got tired of living, he would leave the city and die. The question arises; how could one do such a thing?
The answer could be based on a Binyan Tzion, siman kuf lamed zayin where the following question is asked. How is it permissible for a person to go into the desert; isn’t it considered a makom sakana (a dangerous place)? The Gemara in Brachos tells us that one must bentch gomel upon coming out of the desert since he was saved from a dangerous place. The Binyan Tzion explains that there are two types of sakana: one is a place where there is danger, but the person himself is not in a sakana. The sakana could come at any time. Then there is a sakana where a person eats the wrong food that can be fatal. That is a sakana itself. Dovid Hamelech davened that he should die, but did not put himself in a sakana. The people in Luz left the town, but did not put themselves in a sakana. It was a place where the sakana could occur.
We could explain the machlokes of whether one may daven for someone to die or not based on a machlokes of the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe Feinstein. There is a klal that everything is bidei shomayim except for Yiras Shomayim. The Maharsha asks, if this is so, how could Reb Meir and his wife Bruria daven that the people should do teshuva? The Chazon Ish and Reb Chaim Kanievsky explain that the tefilla that a person davens is bidei adam and therefore it can help. Reb Moshe argues and says that tefilah is bidei shomayim; we can daven that the nisyonos of a person should get easier. He explains that one can’t daven that someone else should do teshuva. According to Reb Moshe who says that tefilla is bidei shomayim, davening for a person to die is not putting him into sakana, it is just getting him to a place where sakana can occur as Hashem will do it bidei shomayim. If you follow the Chazon Ish’s reasoning that the tefilla of a person is bidei adam, then a person would not be permitted to daven for someone to die as he is bringing the sakana upon the person.
The common denominator here is the great power of tefillah. Let us use that power wisely and well.