Prayers for Healing

Please note that this page contain the name of God.
If you print it out, please treat it with appropriate respect.

If you do not have experience reading transliteration
please see the Guide to Transliteration.

As I write this page, COVID-19, the coronavirus, is sweeping across the world, and the need for this long-overdue page is more obvious than ever. Below are two common prayers for healing.

Refuah Shleima

This blessing is part of the weekday Amidah, a prayer recited three times a day by observant Jews. This specific blessing is not recited on Shabbat or holidays because we do not make requests on such days, but it is a standard part of all other services.

This is not a prayer for the health of a single individual, but a communal prayer for the healing of all illness in the community. Mi Shebeirach, below, is a prayer for the healing of a specific person.

R'fa'einu, Adonai, v'neirafei
Heal us, Adonai, and we shall be healed
hoshi'einu v'nivashei'ah
save us and we shall be saved
ki t'hilateinu atah
for You are our praise.
v'ha'alei r'fu'ah sh'leimah
bring complete healing
l'khol macoteinu
for all of our ailments
ki eil melekh
because God, King,
rofei ne'eman v'rachaman atah
a faithful and compassionate healer are you
Barukh atah Adonai
Blessed are you, Lord
rofei cholei amo Yis'ra'eil.
who heals the sick of his people Israel.

Mi Shebeirach

Mi Shebeirach is a standard prayer for healing recited by one person on behalf of another who is ill or injured. There are many different versions of this prayer. The version below is the one that is normally read in synagogue during the Torah reading between aliyot (portions of the reading), but it is appropriate to recite at any time there is a need.

When we ask G-d for a blessing or healing, it is customary to make a gift to charity, and the text below mentions that gift. It doesn't have to be a large gift: people in synagogue routinely put a dollar into the pushke (donation box) at the end of weekday services. If you put money in a jar around the house, it must be a jar intended for charity, not for household expenses or personal use! If you have no intention of making such a gift, you should skip the portion highlighted in yellow below that refers to the gift.

There are different versions below for men and for women. This is not a sexist thing. It is mostly because Hebrew requires many minor changes to express things in feminine or masculine form; it's more than just he/she and him/her, as you can see below. The only difference in the text is the reference to 248 and 365 body parts, which is a traditional understanding of the male body and adds up to 613, the number of commandments a man is obligated to follow. Women have different body structure and are exempt from some of the 613 commandments, so the numbers are removed in the part for women.

Note that when the name of the sick one is mentioned, it uses the mother's name instead of the father's name. The "mother's name" below is the mother's given name (first name), preferably the Hebrew given name if the mother has one but if she does not have one then you should use the name she uses instead of making one up. Likewise, the "patient's name" is also the given name, preferably the Hebrew given name but don't make one up. (The donor's name, on the other hand, is the full Hebrew name in the usual form, with the donor's father's name instead of the mother's because we are not seeking mercy for the donor. But again, if the donor does not have a Hebrew name, use the name the donor uses).

Why do we use the mother's name instead of the father's? Tradition teaches that the spiritual essence is passed through the mother, which is why traditionally Jewish identity passes through the mother. Also, in a practical sense, the identity of the mother is certain while the identity of the father is not always, as modern DNA testing sometimes shows, and we want to identify the exact right person. For me, it always makes me think of Jeremiah 31:15, the image of Rachel weeping for her children, and seeking mercy through a weeping mother.

Healing for a male

Mi shebeirakh avoteinu
The one who blessed our ancestors
Av'raham, Yitz'chak v'Ya'akov
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Mosheh, Aharon, David uSh'lomoh
Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon,
hu y'vareikh virapei et hacholeh
may He bless and heal the sick one
[Patient's name] ben [Mother's name]
[Patient's name] son of [Mother's name]
ba'avur sheh [donor's name]
because [donor's name]
yitein litz'dakah ba'avuro.
pledged charity for his sake.
Bis'khar zeh
In this merit
hakadosh barukh hu
the Holy One, blessed be He,
yimalei rachamim alav
may He be filled with mercy for him
l'hachalimo ul'rapo'to
to restore him to health and to cure him
ul'hachaziko ul'hachayoto
and to strengthen him and to invigorate him.
v'yish'lach lo m'heirah
And may He send him promptly
r'fu'ah sh'leimah min hashamaiyim
complete healing from the heavens
lir'ma"ch eivarav v'shasa"h gidav
to his 248 bodily parts and 365 veins
b'tokh sh'ar cholei Yis'ra'eil
among the other sick people of Israel
r'fu'at hanefesh ur'fu'at haguf
healing of the soul and healing of the body
v'no'mar amein,
and let us say Amen.

Healing for a female

Mi shebeirakh avoteinu
The one who blessed our ancestors
Av'raham, Yitz'chak v'Ya'akov
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Mosheh, Aharon, David uSh'lomoh
Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon,
hu y'vareikh virapei et hacholah
may He bless and heal the sick one
[Patient's name] baht [Mother's name]
[Patient's name] daughter of [Mother's name]
ba'avur sheh [donor's name]
because [donor's name]
yitein litz'dakah ba'avurah.
pledged charity for her sake.
Bis'khar zeh
In this merit
hakadosh barukh hu
the Holy One, blessed be He,
yimalei rachamim aleha
may He be filled with mercy for her
l'hachalimahh ul'rapo'tahh
to restore her to health and to cure her
ul'hachazikahh ul'hachayotahh
and to strengthen her and to invigorate her.
v'yish'lach lahh m'heirah
And may He send her promptly
r'fu'ah sh'leimah min hashamaiyim
complete healing from the heavens
l'khol eivareha ul'khol gideha
to all her bodily parts and and to all her veins
b'tokh sh'ar cholei Yis'ra'eil
among the other sick people of Israel
r'fu'at hanefesh ur'fu'at haguf
healing of the soul and healing of the body
v'no'mar amein,
and let us say Amen.

© Copyright 5780-5781 (2020), Tracey R Rich
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