Judaism has a long-standing tradition of praying for the sick. One of the more familiar prayers is called the “Mi Shebeirach” prayer. It is most often read at the Temple during the reading from the Torah. One translation goes like this:
“May the One who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, bless [name of sick person] with healing. May the Holy One have mercy on them, heal, strengthen and revive them. Speedily grant them a complete healing, a healing of the soul and a healing of the body, along with all who are ill, now and swiftly. And let us say: Amen.”
Another version of this prayer has been set to music is is often sung at home. Here is a version that is very well-known sung by the late Debbie Friedman.
The Mi Sheberakh speaks to healing in a holistic manner, with prayer directed at a physical cure and also a spiritual cure. It asks for God’s blessing, compassion, restoring to full health and strength for all of the community’s sick. Traditionally, the Mi Sheberakh is said in synagogue when the Torah is read but when the sick individual cannot be present at temple a loved one may be called upon by the rabbi to lead the prayer.
Today, you will find the Mi Sheberakh spoken by by doctors, nurses, and social workers. The Mi Sheberakh may be heard just prior to and after surgery, during treatment of any type, upon admission to the hospital or discharge from the hospital.
Another often recited Jewish prayer for the sick is found in the Old Testament, Torah (Numbers 12:13). When Moses’ sister, Miriam, becomes sick with disease, Moses offers the shortest prayer in the Jewish bible: