By Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer, Guest Torah Columnist
Torah Portion: Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1−25:18)
This week’s Torah portion is a fascinating commentary on Jewish healing. Jewish healing does not mean that this healing is only for Jews. As I said in my first book, healing is for everyone. In his masterful Hebrew text, “The Light of the Eyes,” Rabbi Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl wrote a commentary to this week’s portion, Chayei Sarah, which deals with the death of Sarah. “Sarah’s lifetime, the span of Sarah’s life came to one hundred and twenty-seven years.” (Genesis 23:1) Rabbi Nachum comments that “Healing preceded the world into existence. And G-d always creates the Healing before He inflicts the ‘blow.’”
Rabbi Nachum is teaching a peyrush on this text that says that healing preceded the world into existence. G-d creates the healing before He creates the disease. What? Cure comes before condition? Healing before the disease? Is Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl turning things upside down? Is Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl confused?
Not at all. Does he not know that first we go into the past, and then we experience the present? Only after we live past and present can we embrace the future. Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl recognizes that, according to our ancient thinkers and still today, we do not look at Torah divided into past, present and future. It is the present living word of the Lord G-d. Everything happens now.
When G-d gives a promise to do something good, we need to rely on this promise absolutely. We should have no doubt that He will deliver His promise at the appropriate time. We need to “claim” this promise. We need to know, without doubt, that G-d will deliver this promise at the appropriate time for G-d. He does not think in terms of past, present and future. The promise resides in the potential. It is delivered from potentiality into actuality through faith.
But, if we want healing from G-d, we need to pray for Him. What? Pray for G-d? How do we pray for G-d? We need to create a bond of vibration between the Shechina and YHVH.
We need to thank G-d every day as well. We need to bless G-d again and again. In the Babylonian Talmud Berachot p. 7A, we learn the greatness of G-d’s compassion and love. Rabbi Yishmael ben Elijah teaches that we need to bless G-d again and again and again.
“It happened that I entered the innermost part of the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple to offer incense. And I saw Akathriel, the Lord of Hosts, who was seated on a very high throne. The Lord said to me, “Ishmael, my son, bless me.’
“I answered, ‘May it be Your will that Your mercy suppress Your anger, that Your mercy overcome all your other attributes so that You may deal with Your children according to the attribute of Mercy, and that, for their sake, You stop short of the full measure of strict justice.’
“And G-d nodded His head to me.’”
This amazing text teaches that the great Rabbi Ishmael, the high priest enters the innermost Holy of Holies, reserved only for the high priest. In the Holy of Holies, once can fully intuit the Divine Presence.
The purpose of a blessing is to tap the inner truth and destiny of a person and bring it into actuality. The healing of every illness is stored in the world to come. So you can see that if you have faith, if you are in the Greater Mind, you can pray with your friend, knowing that all healings have already been created in the world to come. This is the future. With faith, you can bring healing from the future into the present. You need to pray with Mohin de Gadlut, the Greater Mind, knowing your prayer is already answered. When you do this, you will know with certainty that G-d cares about your healing.
We practice these principles regularly in our monthly Kabbalistic Healing Prayer Circle at Congregation Bene Shalom. We welcome people of all faiths to come together to pray for the physical healing of friends and family who are not well. It is moving to witness people coming together in love and faith.
Past, present and future are all ONE with Faith. G-d’s intention before it is manifested from potentiality into actuality remains hidden. The person of faith can offer a blessing of healing and can become a conduit to receive healing for the person he or she is praying for. This is another of the many secrets of Kabbalistic healing in these sacred verses of Genesis.
Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer is senior rabbi of Congregation Bene Shalom, Skokie, and president and professor of Jewish Mysticism at Hebrew Seminary, Skokie.