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Themes in Systematic Theology Catholic Health Care East Web/Audio Conference May 6, 2008   “Sacred Texts: Hebrew Texts” . . Rabbi Gail Glicksman, Ph.D. Diversity within Jewish communities in the U.S. (1). Jews have developed an “evolving religious civilization,” including: Belief systems

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Themes in Systematic Theology Catholic Health Care East Web/Audio ConferenceMay 6, 2008  “Sacred Texts: Hebrew Texts”.

Rabbi Gail Glicksman, Ph.D.

diversity within jewish communities in the u s 1
Diversity within Jewish communities in the U.S. (1)

Jews have developed an “evolving religious civilization,” including:

Belief systems

Texts

Laws and Customs

Ritual

Prayer

Languages

Arts including Music and Literature

Food

Folkways

diversity within jewish communities in the u s 2
Diversity within Jewish communities in the U.S. (2)

Generally in the U.S., Jews are classified by “denomination”:

Major categories:

Orthodox (10.32%)

Conservative (26.18%)

Reform (34.65%)

Reconstructionist ( 2.09%)

Others describe themselves as:

Renewal

Post- or Trans-denominational

“Just Jewish” (range of meanings)

Secular

Total “Others”: 26.78%

Source: National Jewish Population Study 2000

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Key distinction in how “traditional” and “liberal” Jews perceive sacred text: “was the Torah revealed at Sinai”?

Orthodox or “Traditional”: Defining belief:

Revelation by God to Moses

Torah (the five books of the Bible) dictated to Moses.

In the United States, traditional Jews are in the minority.

“Liberal” Jewish beliefs:

Torah (the Five Books and the rest of the Bible) inspired by God but written by humans or

The Torah (all the text) were written by humans without divine inspiration

Estimate of American Jews’ Beliefs About Revelation – Source of Biblical Texts:

Believe Torah Written by God 17.34%

Believe Torah Inspired by God 53.74%

Believe Torah Written by Humans 28.92%

Source: National Jewish Population Study 2000

estimate of american jews belief in god
Estimate of American Jews’ belief in God

The American Jewish Identity Survey of 2001 estimates 5.5 million American adults who are Jewish by religion or by parentage or upbringing.

Of Jews in this survey who say that Judaism is their religion – not simply their ethnicity or heritage – 41% describe their outlook as secular and 14% say they do not believe in God.

In contrast, only 15% of adults nationally describe their outlook as secular and 4% of adults nationally say that they do not believe in God.

Source: American Jewish Identity Survey, 2001

understanding a person s jewish identity 1
Understanding A Person’s Jewish Identity(1)

Types of diversity in the religious and spiritual expression of Jews:

Ethnic and cultural differences

Elite vs. folk beliefs and practices

Among “denominations” and even within a particular “denomination”

Diversity within families (both intermarriage and even among those who identify as Jews)

Range of literacy about Jewish life (confusion of custom vs. law)

Fluidity of an individual’s beliefs over time, especially during a crisis

Borrowing customs, beliefs, rituals from other religious and cultural systems

Fluidity of beliefs and behavior

Some people construct an individualized sense of what it means to be a Jew, weaving an intricate tapestry of components, emphasizing some elements more than others and the emphases may fluctuate in response to life events.

understanding a person s jewish identity 2
Understanding A Person’s Jewish Identity(2)

Strategies to discern Jewish patient’s approach and receptivity to forms of religious/spiritual expression and to various types of texts:

Draw upon best practices for responding to other types of diversity

Start with the patient: listen, watch for cues (verbal and non-verbal), ask questions

Consult the patient’s significant others: kin and kin-like friend network (realize that there is diversity within family systems, even if all identify in some way as Jews)

Consult with other members of the pastoral care team

Consult with rabbis in the local community

In some specialized cases, a rabbi may refer you to a rabbis who is nationally or internationally consulted because of expertise in specific health challenges: e.g., genetics or end-of-life issues)

jewish community responses to illness 1
Jewish Community Responses to Illness (1)

Models for responding to the needs of the sick:

1. Prayers and rituals

  • Healing prayers within liturgy for daily and Sabbath or festival prayer
  • Psalms (in Hebrew: Tehillim)
    • Individuals select Psalms at random (for consolation, support, hope)
    • Groups organize and commit to recite Psalms for specific people
    • Rabbis compiled lists of specific Psalms to be recited for a person who is ill. Lists vary, but most conclude with verses from Ps 119 that begin with the letters of the name of the ill person and those verses that start with the letters of the phrase Kera Satan (root out Satan).
  • Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh Prayer for healing
  • Custom/Ritual of Changing a Person’s Name
  • Contemporary healing prayers and healing services
  • Confession (in Hebrew: Viddui)
jewish community responses to illness 2
Jewish Community Responses to Illness (2)

2. Organized communal responses to illness

Providing services to fulfill the principle of bikkur holim (visiting the sick)

Formal and informal Jewish community-wide efforts, such as

Jewish Family and Children’s Services and “Healing Centers”

Grassroots self-help, mutual benefit societies Bikkur Holim groups and gemilut hesed groups

“Caring Communities” within synagogues

Advocating for policy changes and for public health education

Groups such as Hadassah

Policy and public affairs sections of the umbrella organizations of Jewish “denominations”

Policy and public affairs sections of the Jewish federations (the umbrella organizations for Jewish communities in North America)

mi she beirakh le holeh prayer for one who is ill 1
Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh Prayer For One Who is Ill (1)

The Mi she berakh le’holeh – a brief petitionary prayer for healing - is part of a group of prayers that developed during medieval times and traditionally were recited publicly during prayer services with a quorum of adult males. The text has differed in various prayer books, with some editors omitting it for logistical reasons, because it prolonged the service or undermined decorum or for ideological reasons, because some feared it encouraged a concrete and instrumental approach to prayer. The prayer has become more popular over the past 15 years. It is now a common part of free-standing healing services and in liberal contexts a melodic version is sung during general prayer.

Although the Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh prayer began as part of communal prayer – which is emphasized in Judaism – it is recited with individuals at bedside.

mi she beirakh le holeh prayer for one who is ill 2
Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh Prayer For One Who Is Ill (2)

The Complete Artscroll Siddur. Nusach Ashkenaz. (Orthodox)

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David, and Solomon – may He bless and heal the sick person (patient’s Hebrew name) son/daughter of (patient’s mother’s Hebrew name) because (name of supplicant) will contribute charity on

On his behalf** In reward for this, may the Holy One, Blessed is He, be filled with compassion for him to restore his health, to heal him, to strengthen him, and to revify him. And may He send him speedily a complete recovery from heaven for his 248 organs and 365 blood vessels…

On her behalf:** In reward for this, may the Holy One, Blessed is He, be filled with compassion for her to restore her health, to heal her, to strengthen her, and to revify her. And may He send her speedily a complete recovery from heaven for all her organs and all her blood vessels… 

Continue: Among the other sick people of Israel, a recovery of the body and a recovery of the spirit (on the Sabbath and Festivals add: though the Sabbath/Festival prohibits us from crying out, may a recovery come speedily), swiftly and soon. Now let us respond: Amen.

** Many congregations substitute: “because the entire congregation prayers for him/her”

Scherman, Nosson. The Complete Artscroll Siddur. Nusach Ashkenaz. New York: Mesorah Publications Ltd., 1984.

mi she beirakh le holeh prayer for one who is ill 3
Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh Prayer For One Who Is Ill (3)

Rabbinical Assembly Prayerbook (Conservative)

May He who blessed our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon, bless ........, [son/daughter of (name of the mother of the holeh, person who is ill)]. May the Holy One, praised be He, mercifully restore him/her to health and strength. May He grant him/her, and all who are ill, health of body and health of mind. Let us say: Amen.

Weekday Prayer Book. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly of America, 3rd Edition, 1965.

Mi Sheberakh: May the One Who Blessed...translation by Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, CSW (C) 1995

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, soon, speedily, without delay, and let us all say: Amen!

National Center for Jewish Healing www.ncjh.org/downloads/PrayerMiSheberakh.doc

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Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh Prayer for one who is ill (4)

Kol Haneshamah Prayer Book (Reconstructionist), 1996

May the Healer give him/her support and strength, patience of spirit and courage. May the healers have wisdom and sound judgment for alleviating pain and suffering, and may the sufferer be thoroughly healed, in spirit and in body. May he/she have many more years of life and health, for giving thanks and praise to the all-merciful and faithful Healer, for a length of days, and let us say, Amen.

Teutsch, David, ed., Kol Haneshamah Shabbat Vehagim, Elkins Park, PA: Reconstructionist Press, 1996.

Sabbath Prayer Book, (Reconstructionist), 1962

May He who blessed our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, grant His blessed healing to _______. May God be with him/her in his/her illness and give him/her patience, hope and courage. May God so endow the attendant physician with insight and skill that our friend be soon fully restored to health and vigor of body and mind. May he/she live to enjoy many Sabbaths, and to thank God, the Faithful Physician, for the blessing of health. Amen.

Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, Sabbath Prayer Book, New York, NY: Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1962.

mi she beirakh le holeh prayer for one who is ill 5
Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh Prayer for one who is ill (5)

Mi she Berach Melody and lyrics originated within the Reform Movement

Music: Debbie Friedman, Lyrics: Debbie Friedman and Drorah Setel

Mi she beirach avoteinu, M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu

May the source of Who blessed the ones before us

Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing

Mi she berach imoteinu, M’kor hab’racha l’avoteinu r’fuah sh’leima

Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leima

The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit,

And let us say: Amen.

mi she beirakh le holeh prayer significant phrases
Mi She Beirakh Le’Holeh Prayer Significant Phrases:

“May the One who blessed our ancestors: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah…”

“Bless and heal the ailing, son/daughter of ____[mother’s name]_____.” (rather than father’s name as in other contexts)

“Healing of the soul and healing of the body”

God as healer/God as physician

Seeking blessings for the health care providers

Seeking blessings for all who are ill

In traditional version – contributing charity for the ill person

psalm 6
Psalm 6

1. For the leader; with instrumental music on the sheminith. A psalm of David.

2. O Lord, do not punish me in anger,

do not chastise me in fury.

3. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I languish;

heal me, O Lord, for my bones shake with terror.

4. My whole being is stricken with terror,

while You, Lord – O, how long!

5. O Lord, return! Rescue me!

Deliver me as befits Your faithfulness.

6. For there is no praise of You among the dead;

in Sheol, who can acclaim You? (Sheminith: meaning of Hebrew uncertain)

psalm 6 continued
Psalm 6 (continued)

7. I am weary with groaning;

every night I drench my bed,

I melt my couch in tears.

8. My eyes are wasted by vexation,

worn out because of all my foes.

9. Away from me, all you evildoers,

For the Lord heeds the sound of my weeping.

10. The Lord heeds my plea,

the Lord accepts my prayer.

11. All my enemies will be frustrated and stricken with terror;

they will turn back in an instant, frustrated.

Source: The Book of Psalms: A New Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1972. This translation is known as the Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation

psalm 41
Psalm 41

1. For the leader. A psalm of David.

2. Happy is he who is thoughtful of the wretched;

in bad times may the Lord keep him from harm.

3. May the Lord guide him and preserve him;

and may he be thought happy in the land.

Do not subject him to the will of his enemies.

4. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed;

You shall wholly transform his bed of suffering.

5. I said, “O Lord, have mercy on me,

heal me, for I have sinned against You.

6. My enemies speak evilly of me,

“When will he die and his name perish?”

7. If one comes to visit, he speaks falsely;

his mind stores up evil thoughts;

once outside, he speaks them.

8. All my enemies whisper together against me,

imagining the worst for me.

psalm 41 continued
Psalm 41 (Continued)

9. “Something baneful has settled in him;

he’ll not rise from his bed again.”

10. My ally in whom I trusted,

even he who shared my bread,

has been utterly false to me.

11. But You, O Lord, have mercy on me;

let me rise again and repay them.

12. Then shall I know that You are pleased with me:

when my enemy cannot shout in triumph over me.

13. You will support me because of my integrity;

and let me abide in Your presence forever.

14. Blessed is the Lord, God of Israel,

from eternity to eternity.

Amen and Amen.

Source: The Book of Psalms: A New Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1972. This translation is known as the Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation

psalm 23
Psalm 23

1. A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd;

I lack nothing.

2. He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me to “water in places of repose”; (others “still waters”)

3. He renews my life;

He guides me in right paths

as befits His name.

4. Though I walk through “a valley of deepest darkness,” (others “valley of the shadow of death”)

I fear no harm, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff--they comfort me.

5. You spread a table for me in full view of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My drink is abundant.

6. Only goodness and steadfast love shall pursue me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

for many long years.

Source: The Book of Psalms: A New Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1972. This translation is known as the Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation

psalms associated with healing 1
Psalms Associated with Healing (1)

Rabbi Simkha Weintraub suggests these Psalms:

  • For recovery from illness: Psalms 6, 30, 41, 88, 103.
  • He adds: “Some have identified 36 psalms as particularly suited to the spiritual needs of a sick person and concerned relatives and friends: 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 25, 30, 31, 32, 33, 37, 3, 39, 41, 49, 55, 56, 69, 86, 88, 89, 90, 91, 102, 103, 104, 107, 116, 118, 128, 142, and 143. This list is not exhaustive and different communities and individuals have developed variations responsive to their own needs and understandings.”

Weintraub, Simkha Y. in Dayle Friedman, ed., Jewish Pastoral Care, Second Edition, Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2005.

psalms associated with healing 2
Psalms Associated with Healing (2)

Rabbi Aaron Levine describes order of Psalms if praying for sick (with minyan):

“The following order combines the most common orders of Tehillim recited by most opinions….These will also guide the individual who wishes to recite Tehillim on behalf of the choleh. (ill person)”

  • PS 20, 6, 13, 22, 23, 25, 30, 32, 38, 41, 86, 88, 91, 102, 103, 142, 143, 130

“If there is insufficient time to recite all of the above, the follwing should be recited:

  • PS 20, 30, 32, 86, 88, 91, 103, 142, 130

“If even less time is available, just the following are recited”

  • PS 20, 142, 130

“Many have the custom of reciting after the above chapters, verses from Psalm 119 that begin with the letters comprising the name of the choleh, then the letters “kera satan”kuf, resh, ayin, space, sin, tet, and nun sofit. This is followed by Adonai, Adonai, the 13 Attributes, and the regular mi shebeirakh.”

Levine, Rabbi Aaron. How to Perform The Great Mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim: Visiting the Sick. Willowdale, Ontario, Canada: Zichron Meir Publications, 1987, Appendix IV, p. 96.

viddui confessional prayer english translation
Viddui –Confessional Prayer (English translation)

RECITED BY THE INDIVIDUAL:

My God and God of my ancestors, accept my prayer. Do not turn away. Forgive me for all the times I may have disappointed You. I am aware of the wrongs I have committed. May my pain and suffering serve as atonement. Forgive my shortcomings, for against You have I sinned.

May it be Your will, Adonai my God and God of my ancestors, that I live now with a clear conscience and in accordance with Your will. Send a refuah sheleimah, a complete healing, to me and to all who suffer.

My life and death are in Your hands, Adonai my God. May it be Your will to heal me.

Guardian of the bereaved, protect my beloved family; our souls are bound together. In Your hands lies my spirit.

Hear, O Israel: Adonai is our God, Adonai is One. Adonai is God. Adonai is God.

Source: Moreh Derekh, The Rabbinical Assembly Rabbi’s Manual, New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 1998, pages D-23 – D-24 

viddui confessional prayer english translation24
Viddui – Confessional Prayer (English Translation)

Recited by the Rabbi, for one Unable to Recite Viddui:

Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, we acknowledge that all life is in Your hands. May it be Your will to send healing to __________. Yet if the end is imminent, may it reflect Your love and atone for all those times _________ could have done better. Grant (him/her) the reward of the righteous and give (him/her) eternal life in Your Presence.

Guardian of the bereaved, protect __________ and (his/her) beloved family, for their lives are interconnected in the bond of love.

In Your hand lies (his/her) spirit. You have redeemed (him/her), Adonai, God of Truth.

Hear, O Israel: Adonai is our God, Adonai is One.

We praise God’s glorious sovereignty throughout all time.

Adonai reigns, Adonai has reigned, Adonai shall reign forever and ever. Adonai is God. Adonai is God.

Source: Moreh Derekh, The Rabbinical Assembly Rabbi’s Manual, New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 1998, pages D-25 – D-26.

ritual for changing a name 1
Ritual for Changing a Name (1)
  • New name added to existing name
  • Names selected reflected associations with life and healing
  • Ritual done before open ark or open Torah
  • Traditionally, a Torah is opened and first name to appear is chosen
  • Alternately, rabbi asks the family to choose a name

Our holy rabbis have said [Rosh Hashanah 16b]: Four things can cancel the evil decree against a person. They are: tzedakah, prayer, a change of name, and a change of behavior…. That a change of name is effective is based on that which is written. [Genesis 17:15], “As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her Sarai, but her name shall be Sarah.” And later it is written [Genesis 17:16], “I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her.”

ritual for changing a name 2
Ritual for Changing a Name (2)

In the name of all the names written in this Torah, and

By the authority of the Ultimate Authority, with the acknowledgement of

God and the heavenly and earthly courts, we do change, alter, and modify the name of this ailing individual from _____1 _____ to _____2_____.

In fulfilling the rabbis’ words, we have changed ______1_____’s name, rendering (him/her) a new person. If a decree was issued against _____1_____, it was not issued against _____2_____, And as (his/her) name was changed, so may the evil decree against (him/her) be changed, from severity to compassion, from death to life, from sickness to health. Quickly send physical and spiritual well-being to _____2_____ and prolong (his/her) days and years, that (he/she) may enjoy a quality life, vigor and peace, from now and forever, Amen. Selah.

[Using the new name, continue with a Mi She Beirakh prayer for healing.]

Source: Moreh Derekh, The Rabbinical Assembly Rabbi’s Manual, New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 1998, pages D-19 – D-21.