For an Ill Parent

For an Ill Parent


Among Jewish tradition’s most sacred callings is to visit the sick (bikur cholim). It’s a gift we give by our presence, caring and compassion. When our loved ones and especially parents fall ill, this special blessing can bring extra challenges. The presence, caring and compassion we offer ailing parents become important to give ourselves as caregivers, especially when illness causes family routines and roles to change.


The blessing for the sick called “the mi-sheh-berakh.”

May the One who blessed our mothers and fathers, God of Abraham and Sarah, Issac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Leah; and God of Moses and Aaron, Miriam and Solomon, send your blessing and healing to those of us who are ill, the one we pray for silently and the one I now mention by name ___________, son or daughter of ___________. Comfort them Holy One, and have compassion on them, and restore them to good health and strength. And send them a complete healing from heaven: A healing of the soul and a healing of the body. May healing come speedily to them, and let us say, Amen.


Genesis 48:1-2

Some time afterward, Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to see you,” Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.


Things I didn’t know

That morphine is pale blue
sickly-sweet baby blue
like every cutesy sleeper
I didn’t want for my infant son.

That I would feel
like a mother bird
tenderly tucking the drops
under her waiting tongue.

That the gasp and hiss
of the oxygen pump
would be both comforting
and terrible.

That when I closed my eyes
by her bedside, trying
to envision her
enrobed in light

the vision would morph
to a white Chanel suit
and I would see her
wearing her life’s mitzvot

woven into a white pillbox hat
and a smart white suit
and white heels with open toes
and a cream-colored pedicure

vivacious and flirty
as a 1940s movie star
taking God’s hand,
ready for the honeymoon to begin.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat


Psalm 130

A song of ascents.
Out of the depths I call You, God.
God, listen to my cry;
let Your ears be attentive to my plea for mercy.
If You keep account of sins,
God, who will survive?
Yours is the power to forgive
so that You may be held in awe.
I look to God; I await God’s word.
I am more eager for God
then watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, wait for God;
for with God is steadfast love
and great power to redeem.
It is God who will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.

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