Shulchan Aruch (OC 230:4, as explained by Magen Avraham ibid. :6) paskens that when one undergoes a medical procedure he should say the following prayer:

יהי רצון מלפניך ה׳ אלקי שיהא עסק זה לי לרפואה כי רופא חנם אתה

I would translate the first part of the Tefillah as: May it be pleasing before You, HaShem, my G-d, that this undertaking be for me for health.

However, that last phrase, כי רופא חנם אתה, seems odd to me. חנם usually means "free, without payment" (as in ויצאה חנם אין כסף, she will leave for free, without payment, in Shemos 21:11). Thus, the phrase would seem to be translated as, "for You are a Doctor Who does not charge."

Why do we make this point here? HaShem, allow this treatment that I'm spending thousands on to work, because You work for free? I could understand if the Tefillah was רופא חסד, a kind doctor, or רופא צדיק, a righteous doctor, or a רופא נאמן, a trustworthy doctor. But why רופא חנם?

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    The term חנם is sometimes used to refer to someone who is undeserving. I'll have to explore some examples of this notion. But, I sense that the idea being conveyed is that, often, sickness is a kaparah for our sins. In making this prayer, one may be acknowledging the idea that, yes, G-d placed the illness upon him, and he is expressing his humility, that, perhaps because of the magnitude of his sins, he doesn't deserve to be healed. But, he is asking G-d to heal him b/c G-d heals even undeserving people. – DanF May 25 '17 at 16:07
  • @DanF Well that is certainly an unusual terminology. Perhaps רופא חונן? – DonielF May 25 '17 at 16:10

Wonderful question!

I'll start with something you mentioned in your comment - רופא חונן. You raised an excellent point by using the term חונן, because this word is actually related to חנם !

Rash"i in Devarim 3:23 says that the word חנון (a close form of חונן) always refers to מתנת חינם - a free gift/ Even the most righteous people, who could rely on their good deeds as being merit, still pray to G-d that He grants them a free gift. I.e., they don't assume that they are entitled to G-d's graciousness.

Now, look at Mishnah Berurah on O.C. 230:4 #6 says. My loose translation:

One should say this prayer regarding all means of medication (healing). [i.e the text talks only about saying this when letting blood.] One should not think that it is specifically the medication that is healing him, rather, that the healing comes directly from G-d. Thus, by reciting this prayer, he will have faith in G-d, and that faith will be the cause of the healing.

So, in brief, whether you named G-d רופא חונן or רופא חנם, it would amount to the same thing. The idea is not that you are saying that G-d isn't charging you. You are conveying the idea, that you are not automatically entitled to being healed by G-d, as G-d can do what he wills. However, even though you are not entitled, you are praying to G-d for a free gift.

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