Texts: A Prayer For the Sick

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by R. Gil Student

The Mi Shebeirakh for sick people is a common feature of Shabbos morning services. In many synagogues, people line up to give names of sick people to the gabbai who recites the prayer. However, the practice is questionable. In the text below, Rav Ya’akov (Mahari) Weil (15th cen., Germany) argues that it is forbidden to pray for sick people on Shabbos (Responsa Mahari Weil, no. 115). Significantly, later authorities follow this ruling.

Some permit the  Mi She-beirakh only for those deathly ill and in imminent danger, for whom we violate Shabbos laws. Others permit the prayer if we add the disclaimer that we are not allowed to pray for this sick on Shabbos (Shabbos hi mi-lizok, see Rema, Orach Chaim 288:10; Mishnah Berurah, ad loc., 28).

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

One comment

  1. I don’t get the “שבת היא מלזעוק ורפואה קרובה לבוא” heter in the Mishnah Berurah. It is so much like the joke about the business deal that went on in shul on Shabbos. “Nisht Shabbos geret, I heard you’re selling 2 gross bolts of that new fabric.” “Nisht Shabbos geret, I am.” “Nisht Shabbos geret, for how much?” … (much later) “Nisht Shabbos geret, I’m interested.” “Nisht Shabbos geret, sorry I already sold.”

    Is it because we’re at least dealing with a choleh she’ein bo sakanah, so we don’t worry about ha’arama?

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