Dec 31, 2007

Interesting psak from Rav Elyashiv: No more Mi She'Beirach on shabbos

Rav Elyashiv gives a shiur every shabbos on a halachik topic. Last Shabbos the topic under discussion was regarding the halachos of dealing with sick people on shabbos.

Rav Elyashiv had just said that it is prohibited to say the "Mi She'Beirach" prayer for the sick (prayign for their recovery), unless the sick person is in the category of "Choleh She'Yesh bo Sakanah" - a sick person whose life is in danger.

This is a very big "chiddush" as pretty much all shuls make a "mi she'beirach" during one of the breaks of the Torah reading on shabbos and people submit names of sick people they know. They will say the names of people who are deathly ill, along with people who have the flu or pneumonia or a toothache or whatever. I have never seen the gabbai or Rabbi in a shul get up and say only certain types of sick people cna have their names submitted.

Anyways, Rav Elyashiv paskened that only a sick person whose life is in actual danger can be davened for on shabbos. The reason is because we do not daven for sick people on shabbos, unless their lives are in danger. Shuls do not read paragraphs of tehillim after davening for sick people (somethign they often do after davening during the week), unless it is an unusual situation. I remember when Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was very sick and the shul I was in said tehillim on a Friday night after davening. Everybody was talkign trying to figure out what is happening, until it became clarified. It is unusual to daven for a sick person on shabbos, and the times we do are the exceptions. These exceptions are made for sick people whose lives are in danger.

So Rav Elyashiv paskened that this "Mi She'Beirach" that is said in shul on shabbos is really a prayer for the sick and therefore cannot be said for someone unless he is in danger.

Moments after Rav Elyashiv declared this psak, while still in the middle of the discussion and shiur, he felt weak. He had to cancel the rest of the shiur and he went home to rest. Supposedly, this is the first time he had to cancel the shiur in the middle since he began the shiur tens of years ago.

On the one hand, Rav Elyashiv is 97 years old and it happens that elderly people feel weak and get sick and need to change their schedules. On the other hand, many people are attributing it to the fact that he had just said that we cannot say the mi she'beirach for the sick on shabbos.

Rav Elyashiv rested and later felt better. He returned to his regular schedule the next day.

The real question is if shuls will adopt this psak of Rav Elyashiv and stop sayign the "Mi She'Beirach" on shabbos or not.


  1. Not that I am one to disagree with him but any sick person there is a possibility that the sickenss can worsen. When will hear some profound statements? I was in shul this shabbos and the mi shemereach were made as usual. Have a great day

  2. while it is true that any sick person's situation can worsen, we generally do not consider that unless his specific situation is one in which he is at such risk. Maybe we base it subjectively ona specific sick person, maybe percentages - I do not know.

    But there are many halachos abotu what one can and cannot do for sick people on shabbos, and there are many differences between sick with danger and sick without danger. We do nto say that you can do everythign for someone who is sick without danger just because there is a chance his situation can get worse...

  3. Growing up, this is what I was always taught (not by the gabbai, though...).

    In that case, however, you probably don't need to add "shabbos hi milizok".

  4. Following the logic in gemara by other sucjh instances, maybe RSY fell weak b/c God was telling him to NOT mess with the tefillah that Klal Yisroel has accepted.

  5. Mike- I have never heard it before now..

    Shaya - that is what they mean by what I wrote On the other hand, many people are attributing it to the fact that he had just said that we cannot say the mi she'beirach for the sick on shabbos.

  6. Nope, no hiddush here at all. It just isn't an issue that any synagogue rav wants to fight over, and there higher priority issues to teach.

    We always did inform anyone interested. One doesn't want to open up the kitrug/judgement on someone who isn't already in some sort of danger.

  7. This was the impression I always had too.

    When I was nine years old and the gabbai started making a mi sheberach, I went up to the bimah to submit a name. Upon seeing me, the gabbai informed me that it was only for people who are seriously ill, not someone with a tummyache. I told him that the person I was submitting had cancer.

    The Wolf

  8. I have an interesting post Understanding davening: שבת היא מלזעוק ורפואה קרובה לבא explaining why we say שבת היא מלזעוק ורפואה קרובה לבא when we make a Mi Shebeirach l'choleh on Shabbos

  9. wolf - I have grown up in shuls ranging from Young Israel to yeshivish to Baalebatish to Chabad to hassidishe shteibels, etc. I have never seen a gabbai/rav say that to anybody... Maybe it was more because you were a kid...

  10. Too bad I can't say a mi sheberach for R' Eliyashiv now that he needs it...

  11. hopefully he does not need it... :-)


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