One of the central Jewish prayers for those who are ill or recovering from illness or accidents is the Mi Sheberakh. The name is taken from its first two Hebrew words. With a holistic view of humankind, it prays for physical cure as well as spiritual healing, asking for blessing, compassion, restoration, and strength, within the community of others facing illness as well as all Jews, all human beings.
Traditionally, the Mi Sheberakh is said in synagogue when the Torah is read. If the patient herself/himself cannot be at services, a close relative or friend might be called up to the Torah for an honor, and the one leading services will offer this prayer, filling in the name of the one who is ill and her/his parents. Many congregations sing the version of the Mi Sheberakh written by Debbie Friedman, a popular Jewish folk musician who focused on liturgical music. (That version can heard in the video, and its lyrics read, at the top of this article.)
Increasingly, the Mi Sheberakh has moved into other settings and other junctures. Chaplains, doctors, nurses, and social workers are now joining patients and those close to them in saying the Mi Sheberakh at various junctures—before and after surgery, during treatments, upon admission or discharge, on the anniversary of diagnosis, and more. We present it to you here, in English translation and in transliteration from the Hebrew, as a resource for you as you confront the challenges of illness. The Hebrew text can be found here.
Listen to Mi Sheberakh (courtesy of Mechon Hadar)
Mi Sheberakh in English Translation
May the One who blessed our ancestors —
Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah —
bless and heal the one who is ill:
________________ son/daughter of ________________ .
May the Holy Blessed One
overflow with compassion upon him/her,
to restore him/her,
to heal him/her,
to strengthen him/her,
to enliven him/her.
The One will send him/her, speedily,
a complete healing —
healing of the soul and healing of the body —
along with all the ill,
among the people of Israel and all humankind,
and let us all say: Amen!
Mi Sheberakh in Hebrew Transliteration
The transliterated text below presents the prayer with correct pronouns for male and female patients. The word before the slash is for males, the one after for females.
Avoteinu: Avraham, Yitzhak, v’Yaakov,
v’Imoteinu: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v’Leah,
Hu yivarekh virapei
et haholeh/haholah _____________ ben/bat ______________
HaKadosh Barukh Hu
yimalei rahamim alav/aleha,
V’yishlah lo/lah bim-hera
r’fu-at hanefesh u-r’fu-at hagoof,
b’tokh sh’ar holei Yisrael v’holei yoshvei tevel,
hashta ba’agalah u-vizman kariv,
Reprinted with permission of the National Center for Jewish Healing, a program of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services.