Each time we read Torah, we include a prayer for healing the sick. It begins with the Hebrew word mishebeirakh, meaning may the One who blessed . . . Many such personal prayers begin with that word, but the prayer for healing, refu’ah shleimah, has become the most famous.
Prayer is not a substitute for competent medical treatment, and rarely, if ever, effects a cure for an illness. But when it comes to healing, the power of prayer, both by and for the patient, has been documented by both statistics and anecdotes.
And what is the difference between curing and healing? For the purposes of this discussion, the distinction is simple. The curative process addresses the illness. The healing process addresses the person. More people need healing than need curing.
Within other traditions, healing services have had long standing. We sometimes mock the flamboyant faith-healers whose histrionics have brought a certain disrepute upon the practice. However, the highly developed hospital ministries and healing ministries which are well-supported by Protestant denominations and Catholics, the meditative and contemplative practices of Eastern traditions and the healing rituals of Native American nations all have a quiet but compelling impact on their practitioners. The Jewish tradition has similar legacies, both of inclusions in the liturgy and private practices. It is time to reclaim them. On Thursday, October 10, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Ed Friedler, Dr. Todd Maugans will address our congregation, members of the medical community and other interested parties on the topic of Taking a Spiritual History. Dr. Maugans has enhanced his own medical career with an interest in the partnership of curing and healing. His talk begins at 8:00, right after minyan. Please join us.
Beginning on Saturday evening, October 26, we will initiate a series of Healing and Havdalah services. On the last Saturday of each month (except December), we will gather for a gentle service of healing about half an hour before Shabbat ends. Our first service will begin at 6:30. (Please note that we will NOT include a traditional ma’ariv service, at least this first time.)
Who should attend? The ailing and the recovering, the broken of bone and the broken of heart, the patient and the care giver, the bereaved and the beleaguered. Everyone is welcome; no one will be put on the spot; only those who volunteer will share the reasons they have come. And though there is a therapeutic value to prayer, the service is not intended as a substitute for therapy.
Each day we pray heal us, o Lord, and we shall be healed. May the One who blessed our ancestors bless us with an answer to that petition.