Q. Is it true that someone who visits the sick takes away a sixtieth of the person’s illness?
A. This idea seems to be linked to a g’matri’a. When Joseph heard of his father Jacob’s illness, he was told, Hinneh avicha choleh, “Behold, your father is sick” (Gen. 48:1). The numerical value of hinneh (“behold”) is 60 (5+5+50).
Joseph’s visit to his father had a positive effect on the patriarch’s morale and “Israel (Jacob) strengthened himself and sat on the bed – al ha-mittah” (Gen. 48:2). In g’matri’a, ha-mittah is 59 (5+40+9+5).
Visiting the sick must, however, not be allowed to irk the patient. The visitor must know when to come and when to go, what to say and what not to say.