By Deborah Bers: Seneca the Younger (4BCE – ACE 65), in On the Healing Power of the Mind, said, ”Nothing…refreshes and aids a sick man so much as the affection of his friends.” We often feel at a loss when friends or family members are seriously ill or injured, because it is often the case that there is little (we believe) that we can do to be of help. But there really is something we can do that can be healing for both the patient and the well-wisher.
During Torah reading on Shabbat and at weekday minyan services, there is a pause when the Torah is covered and the rabbi asks for the names of people who are in need of healing. This is an invitation to have the name of a friend or relative who is ailing mentioned during the recitation of the MiShebeirach Prayer. Usually the person’s Hebrew name, along with his or her mother’s name, is used, but the English name is also acceptable.
The translation of the MiShebeirach prayer is as follows:
May the One who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, bless and heal the one who is ill: ____ son/daughter of ____. May the Holy One, blessed be God, shower abundant mercies upon him/her. Merciful one, restore him/her, heal him/her, strengthen him/her, enliven him/her. Send him/her speedily a complete healing of body and healing of soul, together with all who are ill, soon, without delay; and let us say: Amen.
Coming to shul and assuring that a loved one’s name is read during the Mishebeirach prayer is an opportunity for anyone, regardless of education or religious involvement, to do something spiritually helpful for both him/herself and the person who is ill.