If someone was given the name of a sick person to daven for them, and when they get to refa'enu (blessing for healing) they can only remember the person's name but not their mother's name, how should they proceed?

Let's say that they know the person's surname, their mother's English name, and have a vague memory that the mother's Hebrew name was Shprintza something-or-other.

Should they:

  • just say the part they remember?

  • say the mother's English name?

  • say the surname?

  • say the part of the mother's name which they remember?

  • do their best to guess the mother's full name?

  • some combination of the above?

  • something else entirely?

Sources please.


1 Answer 1


If you don't know his mother's name, you can use his father's name (Aruch Hashulchan 119:1, Orchos Rabeinu Vol 1, p 64).

If you don't know his mother or father's name, you can use the surname (family name) (R' Chaim Kanievsky in Ishei Yisrael p734).

If you don't know the person's proper Hebrew name, you can use an English name or a nickname that resembles their name (like Yossi for Yosef). (Tefillah K'hilchasa Ch 12, Seif 42). Presumably, this would also apply to using an English name or nickname of the mother.

You can also mention just the name of the person. (Orchos Reabbeinu Vol 1, Seif Katan 218).

Sources from Praying With Fire 2 by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman (Artscroll), who discusses this topic in depth.

  • How about if they know part of the Hebrew name of the mother (which was the question)? The question isn't what is a catch-all solution to any situation, but what about if you know part of the mother's name. None of your sources seem to indicate that they are addressing this situation. If they are, please edit to clarify that. Feb 2, 2015 at 18:40
  • @YeZ The question as written was broad enough to encompass all the situations I included in my answer. It clearly asks about two of the contingencies I mentioned: using the surname, using the mother's English name, and using the name with no additions. I don't have any source that mentions part of the name; instead, I have sources that provide alternatives in the given situation.
    – LN6595
    Feb 2, 2015 at 18:45
  • So these sources, by your admission, do not say what you should do in this situation, but what you could do. Feb 2, 2015 at 18:48
  • @YeZ There is no question of obligation in this situation. There is no mitzvas asei or lo sasei to mention a person's name. There is an inyan to say the choleh's name, and it is that inyan I am addressing. As with most non-halachik inyanim, there is no single right answer, only a series of possibilities one might follow.
    – LN6595
    Feb 2, 2015 at 18:49
  • Is there no best way to do it? Might I just as well make up a name arbitrarily, since there is no obligation? Obviously, there is a "best" way to do something, even if it is only an "inyan" Feb 2, 2015 at 18:51

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