For the week ending 16 February 2008 / 10 Adar I 5768

Praying for the Ill

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: I recently received the sad news of a friend's serious illness along with a request to pray for his recovery. I was wondering whether I was obligated to do so and how to go about it. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: As regards obligation, you should bear in mind what our Talmudic Sages say (Mesechta Berachot 12b): "Anyone who is capable of praying for the good health of another and fails to do so is considered a sinner."

How does one pray?

One can pray immediately upon hearing the sad news or any other time by simply requesting in any language that "G-d should send a complete healing to the party (Hebrew name), the son of (mother's Hebrew name) along with all the ill of the Jewish people."

Including this prayer in the silent Shmoneh Esrei service in the blessing relating to health (which is to be found in virtually every siddur) is an even more effective way of praying. But perhaps the best way to pray for the sick person is while visiting him and his condition inspires you to greater sincerity. At the bedside there is no need to mention the patient's name because the Divine Presence is there.

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