Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I understand that when praying for a sick person, whether privately or in a mishaberach following the Torah reading, one should omit honorifics; e.g. not to use "HaRav" when praying for a rabbi, or not inserting "haKohen" or "haLevi" in the name for a kohen or levi. For example, just last night, our rav had us pray for an ill levi without mentioning his tribal status when giving us his name. Many people I know, however, don't know this. What is the source and reasoning for excluding the honorific, and are there any contrary opinions? Is including honorifics wrong?

share|improve this question
perhaps, similar to the story on page 6 of this pdf: youngisrael.org/content/PDFs/YouthGroupGuides/… , we don't want Heaven to inspect the person's honorifics too closely, when requesting mercy. – Menachem May 28 '13 at 16:33
In "What is the source and reasoning for this practice" are you referring to inclusion or exclusion of the honorific? – msh210 May 28 '13 at 17:15
@msh210: I'm asking for the source for exclusion of the honorific AND if there are contrary opinions. – Bruce James May 28 '13 at 20:00
No source - just a thought. MiSheberach for a sick person uses the mother's name, not the father's. The tribe comes from the father, so is not appropriate to mention it. – Epicentre May 29 '13 at 10:19
@Epicentre, doesn't explain for a rav. – Noach MiFrankfurt May 22 '14 at 16:00
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Sefer Chasidim siman 800:

אדם שמתפלל על אביו אם הוא חולה לא יאמר תרפא אבא מארי או לאדוני אבא רפא

One who is praying for his sick father should not say "Heal my father my master" or "To my master my father heal"

See continuation there, where he brings Elisha not referring to Eliyahu as his master as an example - not just father/son.

Birkei Yosef Yoreh De'ah 242 (explaining Sefer Chasidim1):

אין גבהות לפני המקום

There is no stature (lit. highness) before Hashem

It is inappropriate to mention someone else's stature when speaking to Hashem, as everyone is nothing compared to His greatness.

1Birkei Yosef seems that he is quoting Sefer Chasidim, but I did not find those words in our text of Sefer Chasidim.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.