Based on comments on this question:

Is there any written evidence - from a reliable source - that one may daven for a חוֹלֶה שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ סַכָּנָה - someone not deathly ill - on Shabbat.

Classic Halacha states that one may only daven for people who are deathly ill on Shabbat. E.g. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in 192:2 - סימן קצב - דין החולה והרופא - states:

גַּם נוֹהֲגִין לְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַחוֹלִים בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת. וְאִם הוּא מְסֻכָּן, מְבָרְכִין אוֹתוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בְּשַׁבָּת וְיוֹם טוֹב. ‏

The custom is to bless the ill people in shul. And if he's in danger (i.e. deathly ill) then one even blesses them [in shul] on Shabbat or Yom Tov.

The Shulchan Aruch clearly forbids one to say the classic רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה on Shabbat, even in private. Orach Chaim 287 - סימן רפז - נחום אבלים ובקור חולים בשבת - states:

סימן רפז - נחום אבלים ובקור חולים בשבת
ובו סעיף אחד
א יְכוֹלִים לְנַחֵם אֲבֵלִים בְּשַׁבָּת, וְכֵן יְכוֹלִים לְבַקֵּר אֶת הַחוֹלֶה. וְלֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ כַּדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁאוֹמֵר לוֹ בַּחֹל, אֶלָּא אוֹמֵר לוֹ: שַׁבָּת הִיא מִלִּזְעֹק וּרְפוּאָה קְרוֹבָה לָבֹא, וְרַחֲמָיו מְרֻבִּים וְשִׁבְתּוֹ בְּשָׁלוֹם. הגה: וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים דְּאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר וְרַחֲמָיו מְרֻבִּים, וְכֵן נָהֲגוּ (רַמְבַּ''ם פֶּרֶק כ''ד).

One may comfort mourners and visit the sick on Shabbat, but one doesn't say to him (רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה) as one says during the week, but rather "Shabbat is not a time to daven, healing should be soon, His mercy is great. Have a peaceful Shabbat."
Rema: The custom is not to include the words "His mercy is great".

Is there any source for the popular custom of blessing a long list of people on Shabbat; some of whom are recuperating, convalescing or in bad health, but are nowhere near deathly ill, (thank Gcd)?


R' Binyamin Shlomo Hamburger wrote an extensive and thorough survey of the issue of praying for the ill on Shabbat in Chitzei Gibborim vol. 6 including his characteristic historical geographic breakdown of the positions and a survey of texts in historical Siddurim. You can find all the sources you want in that article, including discussion of the various leniencies that have been suggested throughout the ages.

One famous later authority who struggled with the issue is the Magen Avraham at the end of OC 288, who proposes that the custom is relying on a minority opinion in Rishonim that simply/concisely phrased prayers are permitted (à la R Yossi, Shabbat 12b). As you note though, especially among Ashkenazi authorities, the simplest read of the vast majority of sources clearly prohibits it. Even the Arukh haShulchan, who is known for defending local customs, writes (287:2) "I don't know who permitted this for them" and offers no further defense.

  • (כח) המסוכן בו ביום - אבל מי שאינו מסוכן לא וכשעושין מי שבירך לחולה שאין בו סכנה אומר שבת היא מלזעוק ורפואה קרובה לבוא. ולברך המקשה לילד בודאי מותר דהא בכלל מסוכנת היא וכן היולדת בתוך שבוע ראשון ג"כ נראה דלכו"ע אין להחמיר: Mishna Brurah
    – sam
    Dec 24 '20 at 16:42
  • @sam What's your point? Everyone agrees you can obliquely pray for non-critically ill people with שבת היא מלזעוק
    – Double AA
    Dec 24 '20 at 16:52
  • No chiddush ,didn't see anyone quote the MB ,thats all
    – sam
    Dec 24 '20 at 16:58

The Gemara[1] says:

... One may not visit the sick on the Sabbath.[2] These are the words of Beis Shammal — But Beis Hillel permits these activities on the Shabbath.[3]

Hillel says we should visit the sick because these are acts of kindness (Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chaim 287:1). Jews are even encouraged to visit and pray for the recovery of non-Jews (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 151:12). Just as G-d, The Holy One, visited Abraham when the patriarch was sick (Chapter 18 Genesis), so, too, we should visit the sick. This is called called “imitatio deo.”

The Holy One, blessed be He, visited the sick ... so should you visit the sick (Midrash Sifrei; Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 14a).

The Gemara cites a Baraisa about visiting the sick on the Shabbath:

The Sages taught in a Baraisa: One who enters to visit a sick person on the Shabbath SHOULD say: "It is the Shabbath now, therefore we are prevented from crying out for your recovery, but recovery will come soon."

This means that we should not pray to G-d on his behalf since this prayer will arouse weeping and sorrow. Rather, we are to offer him hope to lift his spirits (Ran).

And R' Meir says: One should say "[The Sabbath] itself can have mercy and bring your recovery."

This means that if the sick person honors the Shabbat, perhaps he will merit a fast recovery. Thus, the Shabbat does not delay recovery but hastens it unaided by prayer (Maharsha)[4].

R' Yehudah says: One should say: "May the Omnipresent have mercy on you and on the sick of Israel." R' Yose says: "May the Omnipresent have mercy on you among the sick of Israel."[5]

By using Rabbi Yose's formula which groups the sick person together with the sick of Israel, the prayer, offered on the behalf of many, becomes a dual prayer (Rashi). Although R' Yehudah and Yose agree with the Tannaim that this prayer should not be directed to G-d on the Shabbat (Maharsha).

When Shevna, a prominent person in Jerusalem, would enter to visit a sick person on the Shabbat, he would say: "Peace." And when leaving, he would say: "The Shababth prevents us from crying out for your recovery, but recovery will come soon. [G-d's] mercies are many, and rest on the Sabbath in peace."

This means that G-d's mercies are so great that He will heal the sick on the Shabbat even without prayer. The person must observe Shabbat in peace. Shevna suggests one begins and ends their visit with the word shalom (peace), which is a Name of G-d.[6]

The Gemara specifies which of these Tannaic opinions is the source for the following Amoraic statement:

With whom does this teaching states by R' Chanina accord? One who has a sick person in his household must include him together with the sick of Israel when praying on his behalf. With whom does this teaching accord? It accords with R' Yose. (This is the view of R' Yose). the Gemara cites another teaching by R' Chanina on this topic: And R' Chanina said: It was with difficulty that [the Rabbis] permitted one to console mourners and to visit the sick on the Shabbath (because of the distress felt by the visitors (Rashi).

Also, a person requires the assistance of the ministering angels to send his prayers to G-d (Rashi to Sotah 33a, see also Rabbeinu Yonah to Berachos folio 7a).

[1] Talmud Bavli 12a4 (tractate Shabbos, the Artscroll addition)

[2] Because this activity causes anguish (Rashi, see Rif and Ran)

[3] Hillel referred to Isaiah's words "your business" to mean that personal needs are forbidden but not a mitzvah

[4] Although he must ignore his pian

[5] Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 12b1

[6] See 10b (Maharsha)

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