Amidah: Refuah: Wholeness
The eighth blessing is the blessing of Refuah, or Healing. The reason why the eighth blessing describes healing is because of the mitzva of circumcision. Refa’enu Hashem v’neirafei – “Heal us God and we will be healed.” This is the only blessing in which we say that. We didn’t say, “Bring us back and we will be back.” We didn’t say, “Forgive us and we will be forgiven.” V’hoshe’anu v’nevashea – and while You’re at it, “Save us, and we will be saved.” Ki tehilateinu ata – “Because You are our praise.” That’s a good reason isn’t it? V’ha’aleinu refuah shelemah l’chol makoteinu – “Bring complete recovery for all our ailments.” Ki El melech rofeh ne’eman v’rachaman ata – “You are a Power Who heals, Who is reliable, and compasionate.” Baruch ata Hashem – “You are the source of all blessing, God Who always existed, exists, and will always exist, You are the Master over everything, and Your Name will expand as I say the words Rofeh cholei amo Yisrael – ‘Who heals the sick of His people Israel.’”
We spoke about the blessing being the eighth one and that the number represents brit milah. Refu’ah also means ‘to soften.’ The blessing of Refa’enu is the eighth blessing of Shemoneh Esreh. This is because of the brit milah. In other words, part of our living in Your world is illness.
Now what’s also interesting about refu’ah is that included in the blessing are the words hoshe’anu v’nevashe’ah – save us and we will be saved. Why do we speak about saving us in the same blessing as refu’ah? Because we understand that there is refu’at ha’guf – the healing of the body, and there is refu’at ha’nefesh – the healing of the soul. We do not separate the two. So here we are also praying for the healing of the soul.
If you know someone who is battling depression, or any type of mental or spiritual anguish, this is the blessing. If you are experiencing very deep confusion and not being able to work on one’s relationship with God (i.e. mitzvot), this is where you would daven for it. And there is an acknowledgement that if God would do it, it would be over.
Meaning, there are times when you are cured from an illness, but you bear the after effects for a while. Like you recover from the flu, but you have a runny nose for days afterwards. When we say refa’einu Hashem v’neirafei, we mean that if You healed us then we would be healed. It would be over. In other words, we are not just asking for us to get over an illness, we are asking to be whole. And anyone who needs to be whole, needs some kind of refu’ah.