Judaism mandates that we visit the sick (bikur cholim), assuring the dignity of the patient and affirming the power of community. When we visit those who are ill, our job is to be present, kind, and ready to listen. To hold space for whatever they want or need to say; to take their cues about what they want to discuss; to let them rest when they need to – these are our obligations as well.
מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,
אַבְרָהָם, יִצְחָק, וְיַעֲקֹב,
וְאִמּוֹתֵינוּ, שָׂרָה, רִבְקָה, רָחֵל, וְלֵאָה,
הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת–חוֹלֵי הַנֶפֶשׁ,
חוֹלֵי הָרוּחַ וְחוֹלֵי הַגּוּף.
הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יְהִיֶה עִמָהֶם
חַזֵּק אֶת–יָדָם בְּאֹמֶץ–לֵב בְּכָל יוֹם,
בְּתוֹךְ שְׁאָר כָל החוֹלִים
הַשְׁתָּא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב,
May the one who blessed our ancestors, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bless all those with chronic illness and help them to endure. Lift up their spirits and give them strength to embrace both joy and sorrow. Help their friends and caregivers know their own strengths and weaknesses, and the common humanity shared with those to whom they offer comfort. We remember Jacob’s limp, Moses’ speech impediment, Leah’s weak eyes, and all that each contributed. Grant courage, faith, and joy to all who bear chronic illness and to all who love them. Amen.
Jeffrey Lilly in Michael Tyler and Leslie Kane, eds, Siddur Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco: Sha’har Zahav, 2009
R. Hiyya b. Abba fell ill and R. Yohanan went in to visit him. He said to him: Are your sufferings welcome to you? He replied: Neither they nor their reward. He said to him: Give me your hand. He gave him his hand and he raised him.
R. Yohanan once fell ill and R. Hanina went in to visit him. He said to him: Are your sufferings welcome to you? He replied: Neither they nor their reward. He said to him: Give me your hand. He gave him his hand and he raised him. Why could not R. Yohanan raise himself? — They replied: The prisoner cannot free himself from jail.
םי שברך אבותינו מקור הברכה לאמותנו
Mi sheberach avoteinu, m’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu
May the Source of Strength who blessed the ones before us.
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing,
And let us say Amen.
מי שברך אמותינו מקור הברכה לאבותינו
Mi shebeirach imoteinu m’kor hab’racha la-avoiteinu
Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah,
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say Amen.