Our commitment as a congregation to pray for those in need of healing finds important expression in the mi-shebeirakh prayer we recite every Monday, Thursday and Shabbat mornings. The purpose of this communal prayer is to beseech God to heal those in a health crisis of temporary duration. Concerning those who suffer from chronic conditions of an irreversible nature, our tradition wisely counsels us not to define such individuals by their illnesses, but rather to accept the “new normal” with which they must live and to cherish them as they are.
We frequently find that family and friends who request the names of loved ones to be placed on the mi-shebeirakh list are unaware that permanent inclusion is not the intention of this prayer; alternatively, there are those who simply forget after several months they have asked for a friend or relative to be included in the first place. Accordingly, the mi-shebeirakh list grows ever longer with the passage of time, becoming unwieldy to read in its entirety during services.
We are currently reading the names of approximately 150 people in Hebrew and English – a list that might unknowingly include those who have recovered, are chronically ill, or have passed away. It is necessary to begin a new list periodically for this reason. A notice will appear in the Mah Koreh e-newsletter and Shabbat handouts a few weeks prior to the start of a new list indicating when it would start.
There is no rule of thumb as to how long one should recite a mi-shebeirakh for someone who is ill – depending upon circumstances, a period of time ranging from several weeks to several months is generally most appropriate. Of course, we will always accommodate requests to maintain a name on the list for longer periods of time, but ask that you contact the synagogue periodically to re-affirm your wish to keep a person on the list.
If you would like to remove any current names or include new names of friends and family members who are ill, please contact the Clergy Office at 268-4200, ext. 115 or email Danielle Berke at [email protected].
May God grant spiritual and physical well-being to those who suffer and mercifully restore them to health and vigor.
Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner