How can we bring someone struggling or suffering “back to life”? Using the story of Rav Chanina and Rav Yochanan in Masechet Brachot, this limmud helps participants move from empathy to action.
Rabbi Yoḥanan fell ill.
Rabbi Ḥanina entered to visit him,
and said to him: Is your suffering dear to you?
Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: I welcome neither this suffering nor its reward.
Rabbi Ḥanina said to him: Give me your hand.
He gave him his hand, and Rabbi Ḥanina stood him up and restored him to health.
The Gemara asks: Why did Rabbi Yoḥanan wait for Rabbi Ḥanina to restore him to health? If he was able to heal his student, let Rabbi Yoḥanan stand himself up.
The Gemara answers, they say: A prisoner cannot generally free himself from prison, but depends on others to release him from his shackles.
רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן חֲלַשׁ.
עָל לְגַבֵּיהּ רַבִּי חֲנִינָא.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: חֲבִיבִין עָלֶיךָ יִסּוּרִין?
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לֹא הֵן וְלֹא שְׂכָרָן.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: הַב לִי יְדָךְ.
יְהַב לֵיהּ יְדֵיהּ, וְאוֹקְמֵיהּ
אַמַּאי, לוֹקִים רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן לְנַפְשֵׁיהּ?
אָמְרִי: אֵין חָבוּשׁ מַתִּיר עַצְמוֹ מִבֵּית הָאֲסוּרִים.
Participants can split into chavrutot, discuss as a group or split the questions between group discussion and chavruta.
(Alternatively you can ask: Whose perspective do you connect with more at this moment? Do you feel you can be מושיט יד or need someone to be מושיט יד to you?)
Bring the group together and ask everyone to share their ideas for being “מושיט יד”.
Ask everyone to respond to:
What gives me strength during challenging times and how do I want to give strength to others?
Ask students, without sharing, to try to think of someone specific they want to reach out to.