When praying for someone's refuah shlema (fully recovered health), is it halakhically required to use their additional names on top of their first names? Is it simply custom?

If someone is named Ya'akov Yosef ben Sarah Leah, for example, is it required to say all four names (Ya'akov, Yosef, Sarah and Leah) when praying for their refuah shlema? Or would it suffice to simply say "Ya'akov ben Sarah"?

  • 3
    Suffice for what?
    – Double AA
    Jun 6, 2013 at 14:34
  • I am under the impression, perhaps wrongly, that the proper custom when praying for someone's refuah shlema is to mention that person's Hebrew name followed by their mother's Hebrew name. If a person's name actually consists of two names (e.g. Ya'akov Yosef ben ...), my question is if the custom requires both given names to be said or if mentioning their first given name is still an acceptable way to pray for their refuah shlema (just Ya'akov in my example rather than Ya'akov and Yosef)?
    – Lee
    Jun 10, 2013 at 9:16
  • Though not directly answering your question, this may have bearing on it: Mishnah Berurah 119:2( s.v. "Rachamim") brings the Zohar which says one should be precise in one's words when asking for mercy, which suggests it's better to use full names. It also says there that when praying for a person present, one may omit their name entirely( like Mosheh Rabenu did, when praying for Miryam).
    – Tamir Evan
    Jun 19, 2013 at 18:56
  • I am confused now, because of answer above. My CHABAD Rabbi always uses the name of the father, not the name of the mother: yerucham david ben mordecai, and not yerucham david ben tzvia Jun 8, 2018 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


I am a theologian not a rabbi, but my answer is that as long as the people who hear you (the point of this is party communication with people around us) know who you mean then you used the right name. You certainly know who you mean and whatever God you believe in would certainly know who you mean. There may be ritual details that are more specific to observant practice (I am not Orthodox), so this is just what is true theologically. Those who already have a custom should keep to that practice as another point is for these prayers to be soothing, and familiarity helps that.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Curtis! Consider learning more about the site from the following short tour and or this short Beginners' Guide. As noted there, sources are greatly encouraged. For example, a source for God's omniscience would demonstrate that he knows whom you are praying about regardless of your exact terminology.
    – mevaqesh
    Jan 4, 2017 at 0:50
  • 1
    You could just add a link to here: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/34345/8775, for a start. | Personally I would edit out other parts of the answer such as other people hearing, and customs being soothing which seem secondary.
    – mevaqesh
    Jan 4, 2017 at 1:04
  • The Jewish law is that one must be precise and use the full name if possible. The reason for using the mother's name is part of this as a prayer is supposed to be exact. Of course G0d knows who you mean, but it is part of the rules for prayer. Jan 4, 2017 at 1:09
  • I don't understand what you mean by "what is true theologically". Different religions have different theologies, no? What do you have expertise in that is relevant here? I don't see how this qualifies as an answer.
    – Double AA
    Jan 4, 2017 at 12:09

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