Painless Self-Healing: Part 1, Asher Yatzar
Take that First Step

Painless Self-Healing: Part 2, Refa'enu

Our daily liturgy contains a special prayer for health and healing that we say three times a day in the Shmona Esrei prayer. This particular blessing is named after its initial word Refa'enu, which means "heal us". The following is a translation of the blessing:

Heal us, Hashem, and we shall be healed, save us and we shall be saved, for You are our glory, and send a complete cure for all of our ills, [here you can insert all your private health requests, both for yourself and for others] for You are our Lord King faithful and merciful physician. Blessed are you, Hashem, physician of His people Israel's afflicted.

Rav Eliezer Burland shlit'a laughs cynically when he sees people racing through their prayers to go stand in line in some clinic or outpatient center waiting to see a doctor who is neither faithful, merciful, nor capable of curing. Rav Burland says, "If you spend two minutes saying 'Refa'enu' with intent and composure, then you'll save hours standing in line in Kupat Holim (public clinics - LB) and in doctor's offices."

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that a person's main efforts in overcoming an affliction should focus on prayer. Refa'enu is not only a blessing for the sick; it's a blessing for the healthy that want to stay that way. The next time you pray, say Refa'enu slowly, word by word, with composure and concerted intent.

Don't ever forget that the keys of life and death are in Hashem's hands only. Since Hashem is the physician of all flesh and Hashem cures sicknesses, one is much better advised to turn to Hashem rather than turning to anyone else. Do so while you're still healthy... 

But even if you're not well, remember that prayer achieves anything. Refa'enu in itself is enough to keep us healthy. If we really had emuna, we'd turn to Hashem and to Hashem only in earnest prayer, saying each word deliberately and with deep intent. Isn't your health worth an extra 2 minutes of prayer three times a day?

Some people ask why we close the above blessing with, "Blessed are you, Hashem, physician of His people Israel's afflicted." Is Hashem only the physician of Israel's afflicted? What about the other nations? Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a answered this probing question and explained that since Israel relies on prayer and emuna, then Hashem personally cures them in a supernatural manner, for if Israel relies on the supernatural (prayer and emuna), Hashem gives them back measure for measure and cures them miraculously beyond the limits of nature. But, as the other nations (and many Jews, unfortunately) rely on natural means with little or no belief in the supernatural powers of prayer and emuna, Hashem lets them fall into the hands of the doctors and "natural" cures.

By virtue of prayer and emuna, Hashem becomes one's personal physician. Isn't that worth reinforcing our emuna and our praying? You bet it is!

Sharon from LA asks: Granted that Hashem is the physician of all flesh, but why does he make people sick?

Great question! You'll find the answer in Chapter Three of "The Garden of Emuna".

Comments

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Frank

The good rabbi, Rav Burland, claims:
"If you spend two minutes saying 'Refa'enu' with intent and composure, then you'll save hours standing in line in Kupat Holim (public clinics - LB) and in doctor's offices."

The ways of Hashem are unknown to us. Unless the rabbi says, "Hashem told me so," let him not expose his thoughts as being those of Hashem! If someone says "Rafaeinu" quickly, it may be just as deserving as the slow poke's. Despite what the Rav thinks and says.

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