Religion & Beliefs

Misheberach

The Misheberach– the prayer to ease suffering of the ill– is on my mind today, or rather, lately, so what do I do when something is on my mind? I start looking into it and unpacking it and checking it … Read More

By / October 10, 2007

The Misheberach the prayer to ease suffering of the ill– is on my mind today, or rather, lately, so what do I do when something is on my mind? I start looking into it and unpacking it and checking it out and trying to see it with new eyes in the hopes of finding something I've overlooked.

With all due respect to Debbie Friedman, her version doesn't much feed my being. It works for plenty of people and that's really great if it works for you, but it's never felt right for me. I've been thinking about the Misheberach so much lately, that I needed to bypass all of that and find more, to find something else. You see, the Misheberach was turning into something I did without thinking, and I didn't want it to be that. I wanted to feel reconnected to it.

So, today, I sifted through Ritual Well's version, expanded to utilize both masculine and feminine language and imagery, this piece "When The Body Hurts, The Soul Still Longs to Sing" by Rabbi Nancy Flam, I dug through Jewish Healing, The National Center for Jewish Healing, (I've taken a few workshops at the Jewish Healing Network of Chicago, and there are similar networks all over the place. I highly recommend their classes.), even related and semi-related issues like Velveteen Rabbi's musings on Asher Yatzer, Aish's "G-d Makes A Housecall", flipped through Sha'arei Refuah: Gates of Jewish Healing, Healing and The Jewish Imagination, The Mitzvah of Healing, and thought through the emotional parts of physical healing as well as the equally-important purely emotional issues that arise in the world that need to heal just as much and thumbed through Sacred Therapy: Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing and Inner Wholeness, and revisited an old-favorite of mine, Jewish with Feeling, a Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice.

And then I had a thought: Think of the term rakhamim that is connective of both mercy and also womb in Hebrew. Could this be the reason we use the ailing person's mother's name in the Misheberach? As in, May it be the case that so-and-so feels the healing warmth of g-dliness as s/he did in the moment s/he was born, that moment of his/her greatest potential and his/her most sacred. Ah-ha! Right away, this set off all sorts of ideas and, yeah, there it was. My new way of thinking about the Misheberach. Something I'd known but perhaps not put together quite in that way before.

As a side note, I know a lot of people who are uncomfortable with the Misheberach, insisting it feels like begging for something. To that, all I can really say is this… refuah shlemah, a "complete recovery", a term found in the Misheberachrefuah is from the root that means something like "soften" and "lessen". Not as in "Do what I want! Do it, do it now!" but like "I hope it is easier", "I hope the discomfort is softer or lesser than it is right now".