These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Refuah Shleimah

Posted on February 14, 2011 by Shibley

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My apologies for the long delay between posts. I was privileged to be visited by my parents followed by a battle with the flu, which has become in the inspiration for this post. While I was sick with the flu, I was fortunate enough to receive get well wishes from a number of teachers and friends from whom and with whom I learn at Pardes. Most of those messages ended with the words “refuah shleimah” (complete recovery).

Not surprisingly, this drew my thoughts to the refuah blessing of the amidah, the 8th blessing in the weekday arrangement. We ask God for a complete healing that we will be saved and we place our trust in God to heal what ails us. The blessing concludes with Blessed are You God who heals the sick of the (His) people Israel. Individuals have the options to insert a special petition for one who is ill. In the individual petition, we ask for a speedy and quick recovery for that specific person or people. Often we think of those in need of such special t’fillot to be in dire straights, such that they need additional prayers to be offered on their behalf.

While I appreciate wholeheartedly the refuah shleimah wishes of my friends and teachers, I can’t help but think that there are those who are more in need and deserving of such prayers. Or, perhaps there’s a separation between the colloquial “refuah shleimah” and actually asking for a specific person’s recovery during the Amidah. Or, maybe we have entered into a situation where we hope that our actions influence our thoughts. In other words, by wishing for the recovery, whether for the flu or something more serious, we are hoping to transform ourselves into people who are more compassionate to the ill. Regardless which method or methods you subscribe to, maybe this can serve as a catalyst for the way we think about the refuah bracha in the Amidah.