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Friday, February 08, 2013

Rav Ovadia on Praying for the Deathly Ill

There are times that it is permissible to pray for someone who is terminally ill for his/her suffering to disappear the other way.  See the Halachot of when and how to do so here in English or here in Hebrew.

Note the story in the last paragraph:
Let us now relate an incident that happened several years ago. There was a person who was unfortunately in a vegetative state for many years. His wife suffered tremendously, for she saw her life wasting away before her since her husband would not recover and she would live out her entire life without having children. When Maran Shlit”a heard about this, he arrived at the home of the ill man and proceeded to perform a “Tikun” (corrective ceremony) quoted by the works of the Mekubalim in the presence of ten men. Immediately following the Tikun, the ill man passed away in peace.


At Sat Feb 09, 02:22:00 PM 2013, Anonymous r.o said...

when Bruria heard her husband Rabbi Meir praying for someone's death she corrected him saying with the strength you are praying with you should use it for life and not destruction. he agreed with her and listened to her and the one prayed for did teshuva.
Same thing with Avraham with Sedom.
even though these cases are with Reshaim and not one who needs a refuah, - how much more so with a good person who needs our tefilos and not G-d forbid use it as a weapon. even MOSHE RABBEINU had to have it confirmed by heaven that Zelafchad had to be killed!
oh! Hashem yerachem!

At Sat Feb 09, 03:12:00 PM 2013, Blogger Daniela said...

It seems to me we should not confuse three very different sorts of painful situations:

- a terminal patient, someone who according to medical understanding is expected to pass away within three days (and whom we don't even touch lest we hasten death)
- someone who is in tremendous pain (this is no longer relevant in our times under normal circumstances, because anesthesia can eliminate pain, if necessary by making the patient unconscious)
- the case discussed in the article, and for which I am unaware of sources that allow something different than praying for life, where the patient is not terminal at all (this is, in fact, the perceived "problem": he is not dead and is not expected to die any time soon, but is not healthy enough to give his wife a get) and there is no pain at all involved as far as the patient is concerned: it is someone else who is (emotionally) suffering. This is, also, a situation that can't be solved by regular options such as not starting / restarting some life-support treatment next time the battery runs out or whatever. The person is breathing autonomously (otherwise we would have lots of leniencies) and in addition, does not really need life support nor periodic surgeries or other specialized medical procedures (which we can opt to forego even for much smaller reasons, such as economical strain), he needs only normal care and is stable.

It seems to me that, given the halacha that explicitly forbids kabbalistic segulot such as the synagogue's keys under the pillow even in cases where there are sources allowing something different than praying for life, if (I say, IF) Chacham Ovadia Yosef indeed did what is reported in the webpage, it seems to me there is something more to it than what is reported in the webpage. It is not my place to expose a few possibilities, which of course, I would not have to write them down in any case, because everyone else can think of.

At Sat Feb 09, 09:29:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody knows good hebrew classes online?

At Sun Feb 10, 03:58:00 AM 2013, Anonymous Racheli said...

Nowhere is it stated that Rav Ovadia prayed for the person's death! He performed spiritual corrections which enabled the soul to move on from its limbo state. He could have returned to consciousness if Hashem had willed it; instead it was decided that the man move on. Don't confuse the outcome with the intentions of the actions.

At Sun Feb 10, 06:56:00 AM 2013, Blogger Daniela said...

Racheli I am sorry for having not written clearly, I did not think this had to be specified, given that no observant Jew - let alone R"L Maran - would wish death upon someone who does not deserve it. There is no question everyone wished for the person to regain consciousness, his wife in the first place (sure she'd have wished him to either be able to be a normal husband or at least to give a proper get, and in any case, to have long life). However the man was in a vegetative state (if I understand correctly) or anyway minimally conscient or locked-in, I also would imagine the story happening a few years ago when medical tools to help such patients were very limited with respect to our days.

It seems to me I recall we don't normally wish the soul or the body to move from such a limbo state, particularly if we are in the third group of situations and the man is not a goses and is not in pain. It also seems to me we are in fact forbidden by halacha to do a tikkun, as I already mentioned - the synagogue keys under the pillow, even when we are allowed to pray that his pain is removed soon, either way (again there was no pain involved in the story presented here). If the story happened as described, it means it was permissible to do such a tikkun and one can think of various circumstances, which, however, the article does not mention. I dared to post my remark lest people should feel sure and assume this is what we usually do, which I am not sure is the case.


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