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How would you phrase a refuah (recovery from illness) tefillah (prayer) for a sick gentile?

"Thomas ben [=son of] Mary"?

"Thomas Smith"?

Is it appropriate to include the name during the misheberachs (public prayer for sick people) in the synagogue? I have occasionally heard misheberachs for English-sounding names, but had assumed that was because the Hebrew name was not known.

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    Sometimes, English names in Misheberachs refer to Jews who have only an English name.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 25, 2011 at 17:22

9 Answers 9

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You use their name and their fathers name.

Source: When asked to pray for non-Jews, the Lubavitcher Rebbe would always request their name and their father's name. See here.

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    @HodofHod So it's the opinion of the editor. It doesn't say that the Rebbe would ask for the father's name. Jul 8, 2018 at 6:48
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    @YeruchamDavidbenMordecai There are many known stories where the Rebbe would ask for the father’s name when Davening on behalf of a non-Jew. מענה בכפ״ח גל׳ 760. ר״ד מחלוקת דולרים יום ראשון, כ״א אייר תנש״א. וכ״ה בתפלה לשלום המלכות בכמה סידורים (פב״פ). וכ״ה בגוכתי״ק אדה״ז בס׳ הסידור ע׳ קסט – פיטראוויץ, היינו בנו של פיטר. וראה בסידור הרב דפו״ר ע׳ 458 הערה 118. May 9 at 20:52
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    @ertert3terte it wasn’t the opinion of the author. May 9 at 20:53
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    @YehoshuaLevy I saw a few times that you are adding many sources to other people's answers. Sources are great, but massive edits to other answers are generally rejected. Best is to write your own answer with the same content. Welcome again and glad to see you seem to be enjoying, typically takes a bit of time to get used fully to the informal rules here.
    – mbloch
    May 10 at 3:24
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    @mbloch thanks Ill avoid major edits, thanks for the polite message May 10 at 4:22
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The Ben Ish Chai (in Torah Lishmah) says that there are two reasons why we pray for someone ben his mother:

  1. Women have less sins (they don't have the commandment to learn Torah constantly, which is a sin that everyone violates to some degree every single day.)
  2. We know for a fact who is the mother, while not 100% for sure who is the father.

According to the first reason, we could say a mishebeirach after either (the 7 commandments are not time-related, and obligatory on both men and women equally). According to the second reason, even by a non-jew one should say a mishebeirach after the mother.

R' Zevin (A Treasury of Chassidic Tales) wrote that when Count Dravski went to the grave of R' Menachem Mendel of Rimanov he wrote a Pidyon Nefesh and he signed it as "Miechislav Dravski the son of Victoria".

Though hodofhod pointed out that chabad.org says a non-jew should use the father's name when writing a Pidyon Nefesh by the grave of a tzaddik.

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    exactly where in Tora Lishma? Jan 27, 2012 at 4:32
  • What difference does it make what the gentile count did in the story? You can’t poskin an halacha from Maaseh Count only Maaseh Rav. May 9 at 21:23
  • You’re reasoning based on the Ben Ish Chai is very interesting, however see this psak. May 9 at 21:26
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When the governer of Connecticut was sick the Vaad HaRabbanim wanted to know if they can say a mi shebeirach for him . They asked Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Soloveitchik said they can and gave them a nusach to use. He also noted that they should use his name and the name of his family (last name) .

Text of nusach:

ויתפלל אברהם אל האלקים וירפא אלקים את אבימלך ואת אשתו" "ואמוהתיו וילדו , הוא יברך וירפא את החולה... [name of person and family name] בעבור שאנחנו מתפללים בעבורו , הקדוש ברוך הוא ימלא רחמים עליו להחלימו ולרפאותו ולהחזירו ולהחיותו וישלח לו מהרה רפואה שלמה רפואת הנפש רפואת הגוף ונאמר אמן."

Source: Shu"t Hashoel 2:pg.126

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To your first question:

My guess would be that there's no reason to classify non-Jews' relationships with their mothers as any different than Jews' relationships with theirs, and that therefore the same formula would apply.

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  • i would disagree with that because a jewish mother is very important because she is the reason he is jewish(except a ger but we don't say their mothers names anyway).
    – shlomo
    Feb 25, 2011 at 21:45
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    ... and a non-Jewish man's mother is the reason he's not Jewish!
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 27, 2011 at 13:56
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One should not include non-Jews in the regular MiSheBerach as the prayer states: בתוך שאר חולי ישראל to heal X son of X among the other sick of Israel. The non-Jew is not in this category and should thus be prayed for separately.

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    Makes sense. Does some authority say as much?
    – msh210
    Dec 29, 2011 at 0:32
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    @msh210 I just made it up after reading the question. But I think it makes sense.
    – Double AA
    Dec 29, 2011 at 1:44
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    Why shouldn't a non-Jew be healed among the remaining sick of Israel? Jul 16, 2012 at 18:42
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    "Among" (בתוך ) could mean "interspersed with", though. God will dwell "among" Israel (Ex 25:8), but that doesn't mean God is part of Israel or vice-versa. So -- speculation alert -- non-Jews who dwell among Jews might warrant being included even if totally-separate non-Jews don't. Jul 16, 2012 at 18:51
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    @MonicaCellio I'm a little skeptical of betoch signifying locational proximity because all the Jewish communities around the world are not in locational proximity to each other but are still included.
    – Double AA
    Jul 18, 2012 at 16:38
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If you know the non Jews mothers name then you should say Thomas ben Mary. If you do not know his mothers name then you should say his name the way you know it.

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    Source?_________
    – HodofHod
    Dec 28, 2011 at 20:24
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I heard that if you don't know the sick person's name, it is enough if you just focus your mind on the sick person and Hashem will know who you mean. So, if you know an English first-name, that would be fine as well.

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    provide a source please Oct 8, 2013 at 21:57
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Neither. The Gemara in Berachot 34 says that when one prays for his friend he doesn't have to mention his name. On the contrary, Rebi Nahman MiBreslev said not to says one's name when the 'dinim - judgments' are overtaking him (e.g. when he is sick or in need of any prayer).

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    Yet common practice AFAIK (perhaps not among Breslovers, though) is to use a name when praying for sick people.
    – msh210
    Jan 27, 2012 at 4:44
  • @msh210 but I think the source for this is in the Kitve HaAri as well, but I'm not sure. There are some people that do Hashkava after the first year of death even though that is Mazik. Jan 27, 2012 at 4:47
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    I thought that only applies when you are davening for someone next to you? Jan 27, 2012 at 5:22
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We recite a misheberach cholim (a prayer for the sick) in our congregation after reading the 5th Torah aliyah. We include the names of both Jews and non-Jews. Ir we know the Hebrew name of the Jew we use that, otherwise we use their given name.

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    Hi Steve! We don't know you or your congregation so this answer is not very helpful. What congregation do you attend? Do they attempt to follow Halacha? Upon whose guidance was the decision made to include non-Jews in the prayer by name?
    – Double AA
    Dec 16, 2013 at 18:49

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