If Elul begins with ahavah – love, it continues with r’fuah – healing. When we allow ourselves to build relationships grounded in love, be it pure unadulterated love, complicated nuanced love, or commanded and authentic love, we open ourselves up to the possibility of healing.
We are all in need of healing, and we all have the capacity to heal.
Every Friday night at Temple Beth El, we offer a prayer for r’fuah shleimah, a whole healing. We acknowledge that not all pain is visible, and that no repair is seamless. We name aloud and in our hearts those in our lives whose mental, physical, or spiritual suffering has rendered them less than whole.
The traditional text of Mi Sheberach l’Cholim, our prayer for healing, asks that God “yimalei rachamim aleihem, lhachalimam ul’rapotam ul’hachazikam.”
The first phrase, “yimalei rachamim aleihem,” asks God to be filled with compassion for them. Imagine that; imagine an entity with no beginning and no end, no starting and no stopping point – imagine what it might mean for that entity to be FULL, to the brim, with compassion for those in need of healing. Imagine compassion overflowing, into the streets and through doorways and into the hearts and minds of those who need it most. That is what we do when we send a text to remind someone we’re thinking of them, or drop off soup just because, or pick up their kids from school because they aren’t up to it. We help God’s compassion overflow into the world.
The second phrase, “lhachalimam ul’rapotam ul’hachazikam” outlines the three things needed by those who are suffering: recuperation, healing, and strength. For healing is never solely about “fixing the problem.” Healing requires time to recuperate, to readjust to a world that does not slow down to wait for those who fall ill. Healing requires strength – both the physical strength it takes to retrain atrophied muscles and the mental strength it takes to believe in ones ability to retrain those muscles.
We are all in need of healing, and we all have the capacity to heal. This week, as you read from brave fellow congregants on what healing means to them, on how they have experienced healing in their own lives and in the world around them, I invite you to reflect on what healing means to you:
What does “healthy” look like for you?
Who lifts you up in times of need? Who acts as your support system?
Where do you find strength?
How do you help heal others?