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The Power of Mi Shebeirach

January 28, 2008

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor habracha l’imoteinu
May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us,

Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing
And let us say: Amen.
Mi shebeirach imoteinu

M’kor habracha l’avoteinu
Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh’leimah

The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say: Amen.

It takes quite a bit to stir my emotions so much that I cannot get through a song and prayer I have practiced, performed and davened (prayed) for years and years. Over the past few months, singing this prayer has made me a holy wreck. It’s haunting melody and spiritual lyrics come together to create what I feel is one of the most powerful prayers in a Shabbat service alongside the Sh’ma and the Mourner’s Kaddish. It is a song and prayer for healing, both physical and spiritual, of those we know and those of the community. This prayer has become especially important to me over the past two months as I have watched my cousin Reid battle leukemia and the complications from his treatment. I know that many readers have scrolled over to his webpage at right, and many more have clicked through to my blog from being listed on his site.

Reid is literally one of the funniest people I know. We’re distant (3rd or 5th…I’m not too sure) cousins whose parents are very close friends. As I have grown up, I’ve looked toward him as a mentor and source of comedic inspiration in my own writing and life in general. There have been times I’ve been lucky enough to have worked under his direction and writing, most famously as a pubescent Napoleon Bonaparte at a talent show during Family Camp at Shwayder Camp in Colorado many years ago. I relish the times our families battle comedic wit and humor during high-stakes Balderdash during the few times we end up in Denver at the same time. He’s even been nice enough to open up his couch for me in New York City when I transited to and from Europe, and shared a hearty laugh over the phone when I told him the little statue I left on his counter as a thank you was in fact a handpainted novelty condom from Amsterdam.

Finding out Reid was diagnosed with leukemia was devastating for all those who have been blessed by his humor and friendship over the last 24 years. At the beginning of the month we were all overjoyed to hear that his cancer had gone into remission. A short time later he began suffering severe pains in his gut–one of the drugs he had taken to help cure him had left him with a severe case of pancreatitis. Over the past two weeks, this condition worsened and developed into internal bleeding, leading to him being rushed from the hospital he was receiving treatment at to the intensive care unit at another hospital across the street. After a banner 8 hour procedure, it appeared that most of the bleeding was stopped and the rest of the battle of removing the fluid in his body was up to Reid. If it wasn’t for the expert care of the doctors and nurses at both hospitals and Reid’s own strength and perserverance during this time, things could have easily turned grave. He has spent the past week or so on a ventilator and heavily medicated, and is slowly recovering every day. There’s a long road ahead, but each day marks progress toward him being able to make us laugh at peak performance again.

During the times I encounter difficulties in dealing with the sometimes bad news, I take a moment to hum the tune of Mi Shebeirach in my head. I’m not one to fully ascribe to the belief in the power of prayer curing all things medicinal and personal, but this prayer I’d like to hope that my singular voice in North Dakota lends itself to a chorus of supporters, fans, and well wishers from around the world that can give Reid the strength to persevere. At the very least, the melody and lyrics lend themselves to a hope inside myself that there will be spiritual and physical healing.

If you all out there get the chance, I’m sure he’d appreciate a Mi Shebeirach, thought, or prayer in whatever form you see fit. I know I’d appreciate it on his behalf.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    August 18, 2008 9:53 am

    thank you for this – I have also been singing Mi Shebeirach for a friend

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