What does healing mean in our tradition? How do we understand “remembering”? How are these two concepts forever linked in our tradition?
The Mishebeirach prayer for healing moves us into the profound depths of what healing means in Jewish belief. When we recite this prayer, we begin by remembering: “mishebeirach avoteinu Avraham, Yitschak, v’Ya’akov, v’imoteinu Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, v’Leah, may the One who blessed our
fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and
our mothers Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah …” First, we acknowledge G-d as the One who blessed our foremothers and forefathers, then we ask that the individual who is ill be blessed and healed; the prayer follows an order of remembering, then healing.
We pray for many things for the one who is ill: support and strength, orech ruach, a lengthening of his or her spirit that we translate as patience; omets lev, a heart of courage; refuat hanefesh, a healing of spirit; refuat haguf, a healing of body; and refuah sh’leimah, a complete healing. But first we remember who we are and from where we have come.
Martin Buber taught, “We are held and upheld by common remembrance.” The journey of our ancients, their brit, their covenant, with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the Holy Blessed One, the ways in which they each were blessed by G-d and in turn, the ways in which they became a blessing in the world, this is our remembrance as we approach healing.
Where does that place us as we prepare for Jan. 8, 2012? We must begin with our shared memory from before Jan. 8, 2011: What are our memories of our town, our Tucson, our country, our Congress, our lives before our fellow citizens attending Congress on the Corner with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were shot down and six of them were killed?
Do we have a shared memory of what life was like before? I would like to think that we do, that our best possible remembrances of our town go beyond the magnificence of our sunsets and the brilliance of our sunshine to the hearts of our citizens; that the people who live here are concerned that everyone has food and shelter and plenty of books to read; that anyone who is ill receives the necessary health care to return to wellness; that on a visit to our town Mariachi music commingles with Beethoven and Bach and cowboy poetry shares a shelf with Whitman and Dickinson; that the wild west means we protect what is wild and shared: the land, the air, the saguaro cacti, the birds and animals and wildflowers; and that every voice is heard from our babies to our elders. How do you remember Tucson? What does Tucson mean to you?
On Jan. 8, bring your memories of Tucson “before” and your vision of your best possible Tucson as we gather to remember and to heal our town. Write them down if you care to; let’s share them with each other. Come to Blue Sky Shabbat in Sabino Canyon on Saturday, Jan. 7 to celebrate with prayers of healing for our world and our town. Attend the “Beyond” events organized by the family of Gabe Zimmerman, of blessed memory. On Sunday, Jan. 8, bring your visions, hopes and prayers to the interfaith service at St. Augustine’s Cathedral at 1:30 p.m. At 3 p.m., attend the memorial lectures at Centennial Hall in remembrance of the six citizens of our city who were killed. We will conclude our day of remembering and healing with a candlelight vigil on the University of Arizona mall. Come hold up a candle of vision, promise and remembrance.