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Mi She-beirach La-Choleh


May the One who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon, bless and heal (Hebrew name) son of (mother’s Hebrew name), who is ill. Because (name of the one offering the prayer) has pledged to contribute to charity on his behalf, may the Holy One, blessed is God, be filled with compassion for him, to restore his health, to heal him, to strengthen him, and to bring him new life. May God send him speedily, from heaven, a complete recovery of his 248 organs and his 365 blood vessels, together with all other Israelites who are ill—a healing of his spirit and a healing of his body. Although petitions are not appropriate on Shabbat (on Festivals), may healing nonetheless come speedily, swiftly and soon, and let us say: Amen.

In an anguished outpouring of the spirit before the open Ark, the congregation joins in prayer for the healing of those who are ill. Although prayers of petition are not normally offered on Shabbat or Festivals, an exception is made for this urgent need.

A person’s Hebrew name is usually recited in the form “Samuel the son of Abraham” or “Rachel the daughter of Abraham.” But in the prayer for healing, the matronymic form is used: “Samuel the son of Sarah” or “Rachel the daughter of Sarah.” The nurturing and healing characteristics of the mother-child relationship—and even the maternal side of God—are invoked in this heartfelt prayer.

Even if a “healing of the body” is no longer possible, a “healing of the spirit” is never beyond the realm of possibility. The pain of dying is often mitigated by peaceful resignation; by the opportunities for reminiscence with, and for leave-taking from, family members and friends; and by recognition that the prayers of the entire congregation are offered on one’s behalf.

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