From the Rabbi’s Study: Mi Sheberach and The Power of the Prayer

Maybe one of the most transformative moments in worship that I have experienced in my years as a rabbi was the entry into our regular order of prayer, the beautiful words of Mi Sheberach written by Debbie Friedman. In many congregations, this prayer is said regularly during the Torah service. But as Reform congregations added this prayer into the evening liturgy, it was separated from the Torah service and has become a moment all to itself.

For many of us, who are constantly thinking about the loved ones who are struggling through life due to illness, financial hardship, job loss and other life pressures, these words are often the central focus of our prayers on Shabbat. We want God to be aware, for the ones we mention to find peace, for our own hearts to find solace and comfort that we have made prayer matter in the world.

Temple Beth Sholom has a long list of folks that are on our list. Many have been on that list for years. Each week we send the list out to our membership as part of the weekly email. But that list is not read or used in any way. As I understand, as the list grew, it became cumbersome to read and often the people who put names on the list did not attend services to hear the names read. So, the list was printed and sent out. Today, because the list is so long, maybe it does not draw your attention in the weekly email. And because names have been on that list for months or years, we must consider removing names to make space for others. But it’s not about the list.

The power of the prayer is in the immediate thought at that moment of worship for the healing and wholeness of the people on our mind. It’s a powerful moment in the worship cycle of today. I believe in the power of that prayer, and I watch the congregation as we sing those words which are etched on our hearts. I am moved each week by the names we share as we circle the room during worship. There is power in the speaking of names. We bring those who could not be at services into our prayer space and lift them up. That’s its purpose.

So please, contact me if you know someone who is ill. The Rabbi is usually the last person to find out. But come to services and speak their name. Raise them up and let the congregation cradle them in blessing. Let’s use the power of our collective prayer to elevate the lives of the ill and those who struggle.

May the Holy and Blessed One, bring healing of body and spirit to all those in need. Amen.

Rabbi David Lipper

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