Mi Shebeirach: The Jewish Prayer of Healing

Posted By on October 18, 2019


To heal isn’t just about the physical
body, it’s about the soul as well. Those who are ill require attention not only
from their doctors, but also from their community. Healing requires compassion,
connection, and perhaps God. Mi Shebeirach L’Cholim is the prayer for healing. Mi Shebeirach means the one who blessed. Cholim means those who are ill. The way the prayer is written, it offers worshippers the opportunity to add the
name of someone they know who is sick. This can happen in a couple of ways. In some congregations, people approach the prayer leader and quietly say the name of their loved one. The prayer leader then repeats the name out loud. In other congregations, the leader begins the prayer and then looks around the room
and people add names from their seats. People will often say the Hebrew name of
the person using the mother’s name such as Yehuda Ben Malka. This comes from the
idea that a mother’s compassion has a powerful and unique healing quality. If you don’t know the Hebrew name or the person doesn’t have one, you can say the
person’s English name it sounds like this Hu Yivarech V’Yirapeh et HaCholim Yerachmiel ben Malka Sarah bat Chaya Rachel Schwartz Yosef Chaim ben Batya Sydney Greenblatt It is a remarkable moment in the service when our communal prayers
focus on specific individuals. It is also a moment when the faithful and skeptics alike take the opportunity to ask God for help because well no matter what we
believe about prayer, when it comes to illness, it couldn’t hurt. The prayer lets
people in the community know who is sick and who is worrying about them so that we can support them by calling, visiting, or sending good wishes. The ancient Rabbis taught that anyone who
visits the sick, takes away one sixtieth of their
illness. The fraction is less important than the sentiment. The idea is that when
a sick person receives attention, it helps them heal emotionally and
spiritually. The prayer might also be said upon
visiting a loved one who is sick. Sometimes a Rabbi will say it when
visiting someone in the hospital or at their home. In Jewish tradition, God has
many names among them are Rofei Cholei Amo Yisrael, the healer of God’s people Israel. Rofei Chol Basar, the healer of all people and Rofei Leeshuvrei Lev, the
healer of the broken hearted. These names include God in the process of healing. Mi Shebeirach includes the community as well. The prayer has become much more
prominent in the last 20 years or so especially in reformed Jewish circles
because of a beautiful melody written by Debbie Friedman of blessed memory. Her comforting tune is sung in many
congregations today. All human beings get
sick with this prayer we express our hope that healing will come. We also
acknowledge that even if physical healing is no longer possible other
kinds of healing can still occur. We become aware of those who need our
support and remind ourselves of our obligation to be a part of their healing.

Posted by Lewis Heart

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