Traditional Jewish Healing in Theory and Practice

By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum



1. Simchah

Likutey Tefilot II, 21, based on Likutey Moharan II, 24

Ruler of the Universe, loving God, Master of happiness and joy: in Your presence there's only joy and no sorrow. "Glory and majesty are before Him, might and delight are in His place" (Chronicles I, 16:27). Kind and loving God, help me to be happy at all times. Your Tzaddikim have taught us that joy is the key to holiness, while gloom and depression are bound up with unholiness, which is the opposite of what You desire. A Jew comes to holiness through joy, and the basic reason why people are far from You and succumb to material cravings is because of sadness and depression.

But You know how far from true joy I am after everything that's happened in my life. I have therefore come before You, loving God, to appeal to You to help me find happiness. Show me the path to follow. Teach me a way to turn my very sadness and depression into joy. Don't let anything throw me into depression. Let me always keep to this path of joy and make every effort to turn my sadness into happiness. Don't let depression have any hold over me at all.

The good points

If at any time I begin to become depressed over the wrong I've done in my life, let me rejoice over the fact that You still love me. You've kept me alive, and You've not let me slip completely. You made me a Jew. I have the merit of carrying out many great mitzvot every single day. I wear tzitzit and put on tefilin. I recite the Shema and celebrate Shabbat and Yom Tov. I listen to the shofar on Rosh HaShanah, I fast on Yom Kippur. On Sukkot I sit in the sukkah and take the lulav and etrog. On Pesach I eat matzah... besides all the other holy mitzvot that we, Your holy People - even the very least of us - are constantly performing. You've shown us such goodness and kindness in crowning us with these holy crowns. Despite our deep exile and the separation caused by our sins, Your love is still bound to us.

Even someone on my level has the privilege of carrying out numerous mitzvot every day, and this is certainly a good reason to be happy and turn depression into joy. Maybe I'm distant from God and suffer fromall kinds of deficiencies. Even so, the fact is that I still have some connection with these awesomely holy mitzvot. Every day I unify Your Name. I crown myself with the "diadem of glory" - the tefilin - and clothe myself in the tzitzit, and carry out the other precepts of the King. No matter how hard that voice inside me tries to depress me with negative thoughts about my sins, I'll tell myself that, on the contrary, this is precisely why I should be happy, considering that someone as distant as I am has the privilege of touching such great holiness. "I've woken up, and I'm still with You" (Psalms 139:18). "You've crushed us in a place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. But we have not forgotten the Name of our God or stretched out our hands to a strange god..." (Psalms 44:20-21). "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine" (Song of Songs 6:3).

Ruler of the entire Universe, Joy of Israel: "Bring joy to the soul of Your servant, for to You, God, I lift my soul" (Psalms 86:4). Bring me to follow the path of true joy until I take hold of my very sadness and depression and turn them into happiness. Let me make every effort to keep happy at all times and fill myself with the holiness of the Ten Kinds of Melody, which encompass all holy joy. Let me make it a habit to put myself in a joyous mood at all times by singing happy songs. I'll sing out and rejoice in God with songs, praises, gladness and melody, and always be happy. And through this, put a spirit of holy vitality into the ten pulses that beat within me, so as to guard and protect me from any kind of pain and illness, physical or spiritual, because the root cause of all of them is sadness and depression.

Send us healing

Heal me and give me life by always sending me joy and happiness, for they are the key to healing all the illnesses in the world. Joy is the foundation of life. Heal us, God, and we will be healed, save us and we will be saved, for You are our praise! Heal all our illnesses and cure all our pains and sores. Heal our souls and our bodies. Give me the strength to keep happy at all times. Let me use every possible means to bring joy into my heart, whether by thinking about my good points, through playfulness and joking, or even by putting on a show of being lighthearted when necessary. For joy is the foundation of holiness and the root of man's vitality.

Loving God, Creator of all cures and remedies, Master of wonders: put joy into my heart. You know the hidden recesses of the heart, and You know the many different tricks the evil inclination and its troops use to try to throw us down into depression. One of their ways of deceiving us is by sending us seemingly righteous thoughts about the enormity of our sins. But this is nothing but a trap, because You've already taught us that for this we should set aside time each day to speak to You in our own words and express our regret over the past. Then, for the rest of the day, we should make every effort to be happy, even if we have to force ourselves, since joy is the gateway to holiness. For Your Name's sake, teach us the path of life. Help us see how to attain joy at all times. Bring me to carry out Your statutes and commandments joyously, with a heart flowing with appreciation of Your abundant goodness.

The dance of the tzaddikim

Let me experience the future joy and see the dance-circle You will make for the tzaddikim in time to come, when each one will point with his finger saying, "This is God!" as it is written, "And he'll say on that day, `See, this is our God, we hoped in Him and He has saved us; this is God, we hoped in Him: let us delight and rejoice in His salvation'" (Isaiah 25:9). "And God's redeemed will return and come to Zion with glad song, with eternal joy on their heads. They will attain joy and gladness, and misery and sorrow will flee" (ibid. 35:10). "For you'll go out in joy and arrive in peace. The mountains and hills will break out before you in glad song, and all the trees of the field will clap hands" (ibid. 55:12). "And you'll draw water in joy from the fountains of salvation" (ibid. 12:3). "For God has comforted Zion, He has comforted all her ruins and made her wilderness like Eden and her desert like God's garden. Joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of song" (ibid. 51:3). "Rejoice in God and exult, you righteous, and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart" (Psalms 32:11).


2. Healing through prayer

from Likutey Tefilot II, 1
based on "Sound the Shofar - Dominion", Likutey Moharan II, 1

Compassionate God, don't let my days and years go to waste. Be kind to me and bring me to perfect prayer. Let me put my whole heart and soul into all my prayers. Prayer stands on the very summit of the universe: don't let me ever think of it as unimportant. Don't let me pray out of habit. Let my every prayer be an appeal for Your love and kindness. Don't let me feel my prayers to be a burden. Let me make every possible effort to concentrate all my thoughts and feelings on the prayers in the proper way. Heavenly Father, You know how hard it is for me to open my mouth to pray. My prayers are full of flaws. Kind and loving God, help me free and redeem prayer from the long, bitter exile we are suffering because of our sins. Have pity! Have mercy! Send help quickly - not for my sake but for the glory of Your Name. I'm like a dumb person: open Your mouth to me. "God, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise" (Psalms 51:17). Make my heart ready, and turn Your ear to me.

Loving God, Who is enthroned upon the praises of Israel: let my prayers always flow from my mouth, and fulfil the verse, "`Peace! peace to the one who is far off and the one who is near,' says God, who creates the fruit of the lips, `and I will heal him'" (Isaiah 57:19). Send me healing through the strength of my prayers alone. All healing comes about only through the "Word of God" - through the prayers and supplications of the tzaddikim, the Masters of Prayer, who pray for the Jewish People and conciliate You in order to channel healing into the world. For all the healing herbs and plants in the world and all the planets and stars appointed over them receive their power from the angels above them. And they in turn receive their power from angels above them. The angels on each level receive and borrow from those above, and so it is from level to level, until they all receive their power from the great "Lender," the Master of Prayer who has attained the Word of God, which is the root of the entire creation from beginning to end, as it is written, "With the word of God the heavens were made and with the breath of His mouth all their hosts" (Psalms 33:6).

It is therefore impossible to receive any kind of healing except through prayer and supplication. Grant that I should know this with complete truth and perfect faith. Compassionate God, let us channel healing to ourselves and the whole Jewish People through the Word of God - through prayer alone.

Healing power in everyday food

Help us draw all kinds of healing powers into everything in the world - into bread and water and all the different kinds of food and drink You send to our mouths for us to eat and drink. No matter what they are, channel into them the healing powers of all the various curative herbs and plants, so that we will have complete healing any time we need it through bread and water alone. Carry out Your promise - "And He will bless your bread and water, and I will remove sickness from among you" (Exodus 23:25). Lovingly send us complete healing, physically and spiritually. Heal all of our two hundred and forty-eight limbs and three hundred and sixty-five arteries and veins. For You alone know all our pains and illnesses - those we know about and those that are hidden from us....

Help us totally cleanse ourselves of all forms of idolatry, immorality and bloodshed (despising other people), in order to attain perfect prayer. Help us pray in a way that is fitting, until our prayers become a channel for complete healing for ourselves, our children and all the Jewish People [and especially (...) the son/daughter of (...)]. For You are God, the King, the faithful and compassionate Healer. Grant that through our prayers all the herbs and plants of the field will with one accord put all their powers back into the words of our prayers, which are the "Word of God," their supreme Source. Put the healing powers of all the different herbs and plants into our prayers, fill them with goodness, and let us offer them to You as a sweet savor so that all the different herbs and plants will return their healing powers to their supreme Source. Let us thereby channel all the healing powers in the world into bread and water and all our other regular food and drink. Let all our pains and ailments be completely healed by ordinary means without our having to resort to healers or doctors at all. You Yourself in Your glory send us perfect healing, as it is written, "For I, God, am your Healer" (Exodus 15:26).

Send healing before illness strikes

Send us complete healing long before our illnesses manifest themselves, when they're still in their earliest stages and concealed within us without anyone knowing about them. For You alone know everything hidden within us. Kind and loving God: have pity on us and send the remedy before the blow. As soon as an illness starts developing, send us healing before it spreads. You alone have the power to heal us, for we have no way of healing our wounds and illnesses - not when they're still concealed, and not when they start manifesting themselves.... We depend on You alone, and we are waiting and hoping for You to heal us. For You are the faithful Healer, the true Healer, the free Healer....

Grant that we should receive all forms of healing only through prayer. Show the world the truth, that there is no healing in the world except through prayer. Let us fulfil the verse, "And He said, If you will listen carefully to the voice of HaShem your God and do what is right in His eyes and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you that I have put on the Egyptians, for I, God, am your Healer" (Exodus 15:26).


3. Sweeten the bitterness

from Likutey Tefilot I, 27, based on Likutey Moharan I, 27

Master of the World! Master of the entire Universe! "Heal me, God, and I will be healed, save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise!" You know the bitterness of my heart, the bitterness of my terrible wounds, and the bitterness of my crushed soul. My soul is very bitter! What is there to compare with my bitterness? Bitterer than death; bitterer than wormwood and gall; bitterer than all the bitterness in the world.

Master of the World: You know how weak my soul is as a result of the terrible damage I've done through my evil deeds and the wounds and diseases I have caused it. My soul is so weak that there isn't a single remedy in the world that can help me. And even if in Your compassion You can find some remedy that will help me, it will be impossible for me to bear the bitterness of the remedy needed to heal my wounds. I can't even bear the bitter purgatory involved in making amends for the damage caused by a single bad thought, let alone for such a multitude of evil thoughts and sins. If I tried to give an account of even the tiniest portion of my misdeeds in the space of a single day, I'd run out of time. Even the days that for me would be considered "good" are marked by a constant succession of lapses every single moment, not to speak of the bad days I've had. Oy! Oy! Oy! What can I say? The bitterness of my soul reaches the very heavens! Who can imagine the pain of my soul?

Master of the World! You know that even if You deal with me with the same compassion that You deal with all Your creatures, and throw all my sins "behind Your back," and send me only the slightest amount of bitterness as a remedy, it will still be impossible for me to bear it. For my soul is so sick, and the bitterness necessary to heal it so great, that I cannot bear even the tiniest fraction of it owing to my innumerable sins and transgressions. "You desired to lift my soul out of the pit of destruction and decay," and You have thrown all my sins "behind Your back." You have sent me the remedy needed to bring peace to my soul with only the barest minimum of bitterness, according to my capacity. Even so, even this little amount of bitterness is very hard for me to bear, because I am so weak, sick, spiritually hurt and confused that I cannot bear any bitterness at all.

Bring me to the Tree of Life

For this reason I've come to submit my request to You, my God and God of my fathers, "Great in counsel and mighty in action... Who performs great deeds that cannot be fathomed, miracles and wonders without number." For You nothing is impossible. "You can do everything, and no purpose is withheld from You." You are the true, faithful and compassionate Healer, and everything is in Your hand. "In Your hand is power and strength, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all." Who can tell You what to do? Therefore "I will stand at my post" and cry and shout to You incessantly, until You show me favor and sweeten the bitterness of my cure and show me the Tree of Life with which to sweeten the bitterness of the evil waters.

Compassionate God: remove every kind of bitterness from me, and give me strength, power and courage to bear with love the little bitterness that I must inevitably suffer in order to be healed. Merciful God, minimize the bitterness needed to cure me as far as possible, and quickly send me complete healing spiritually and physically. From afar I can see the infinite mercy with which You treat me at every moment. That is why I am casting my burden upon You alone. Have mercy on me. Protect me and spread Your tabernacle of peace over me. Send perfect healing to all the wounds and diseases of my soul and body. Fulfil in me the verse: "`Peace! peace, to the one who is far off and the one who is near,' says HaShem, who creates the fruit of the lips, and I will heal him."


4. Heal our wounds

from Likutey Tefilot II, 4. Based on Likutey Moharan II, 4
see Chapter 9 and Supplementary Readings #7

Kind, loving God: Heal us completely from all illness and from all our pains and injuries. Send perfect healing to all the wounds of Your People Israel, physically and spiritually. In the merit of our charity, have compassion on all sick Jews who are suffering because of our many sins. Open their wounds and draw out all the infected fluids and impure blood from them - in the merit of the true Tzaddikim, the holy elders and true Sages, and in the merit of the holiness of the three festivals, "God's appointed seasons, the holy assemblies," which declare and reveal Your supreme Will. Cleanse and purify all the blood in our bodies, so that the blood will circulate in an orderly manner at the proper rate through all our two hundred and forty-eight limbs and three hundred and sixty-five arteries and veins. Shine on us with Your great kindness and close and heal all the wounds and plagues of Your People Israel, so that all Jews will have perfect healing from heaven for all their wounds and injuries. For we put our faith not in human remedies but in You alone. We are waiting and hoping for You to heal us, because You "heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds" (Psalms 147:3). Please heal all our wounds, physically and spiritually, for you, mighty God, are the faithful and loving Healer.

5. A good sweat

Likutey Tefilot II, 6, based on Likutey Moharan II, 6

O God and God of our fathers: Let me always be happy. Help me carry out all the mitzvot and other holy actions with all my strength, until I literally sweat while busy with the mitzvah, and so cleanse my blood of all poisons and impurities. Let me thereby overcome the turbidity in the blood caused by the spleen, which is the source of negativity and depression. Let me always be happy, and drive out sadness and depression. Let them have no hold over me at all. Let me only be joyous at all times. Have mercy on me and all the Jewish People. Guard and protect us from all kinds of disease, pain and weakness. Have pity on all Jews who have fallen sick. Cause them to sweat in a healthy way so as to cleanse them of all the poisons and impurities in their blood, and thereby send them perfect healing and bring them to great joy....


6. Faith

from Likutey Tefilot II, 5, based on Likutey Moharan II, 5

Master of the Universe: Help me elevate my fallen faith and repair all the flaws in my faith. Let me strengthen my faith to the utmost, and believe in You and Your true tzaddikim with strong, firm, clear, pure faith without any doubts or questions at all. Help me channel complete healing to all Jews suffering from sickness [and especially (...) the son/daughter of (...)]. God, please heal him/her spirtually and physically, and heal all our illnesses, pains and wounds. Remove all the terrible plagues "and evil and faithful diseases" (Deuteronomy 28:59) from us and from all the Jewish People for all time. Send complete healing from heaven to all those Jewish souls now suffering from those "terrible plagues " caused by inadequate faith - plagues that cannot be helped by any medicine in the world, not by prayer, ancestral merit, cries or sighs. God, have pity on them and us for Your sake. Do it for Your sake alone, and not for us. You alone know the tragic state we and they are in. You have the power to work awesome miracles. Send them and us complete healing from heaven and remove sickness from our midst. For You are God, the King, the faithful and loving Healer. Our only power is the power of the mouth. Healer of the sick, free Healer: heal us, O God and we will be healed, save us and we will be saved, for You are our praise.

Send the rains in their proper time for life, blessing and abundance. Mercifully cause plants and herbs to grow that will have the power to heal the sicknesses of the Jewish People. Let order reign among the various seeds and plants so that they will grow at the right time and place. Don't let us pick any fruit or herb at the wrong time. Loving God, send a chain of events that will enable everyone to receive whatever he or she needs for genuine healing easily and without effort through everyday food and drink. Send us our food at the correct time and season so that it will contain all the physical and spiritual healing powers each of us needs. For no doctor in the world has clear knowledge of all this except You. You are the Cause of all causes, and You know all that is hidden. "Then your light will break through like dawn and Your healing will quickly spring forth" (Isaiah 58:8).




By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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