Most Jews think that accounts of miracles of healing only happen to Orthodox Jews, or through Orthodox Rabbis. Here is an account involving me, the Reform Rabbi of a Reform synagogue, and a very spiritual Reform Jew in my congregation, as related by her Orthodox daughter:
Her hip began to hurt. Really hurt. My mother was not a complainer, but the fierce, piercing pain became unbearable. I took her to the surgeon, and he x-rayed her on the spot. “Bad news, Rita,” he said. “You’re going to need another hip replacement.”
“But doctor,” my mother stammered, “you told me I would never need another surgery!”
“Nobody expected you to live this long,” Dr. Schwartz replied.
My mother countered that she was not a candidate for more surgery. Her heart could not withstand it. The surgeon explained that the cartilage had worn away, and there was bone scraping against metal. “It’s going to hurt,” he concluded. The only alternative to surgery would be to take heavy pain medication.
“But doctor, that would be dangerous for me!” my mother wailed. “I don’t want to be woozy, because I’m afraid of losing my balance. I can not afford another fall!”
Dr. Schwartz had no other alternatives up his sleeve. He suggested my mother go home and think about what she wanted to do. Upon her arrival home, she phoned her long time mentor and rabbi at Temple Akiba.
Rabbi Maller offered a solution. “Rivka,” he said, “I will pray for you. Also, get your daughters together, your grandkids, and your friends and relatives, and ask them to pray for you at sunset that your hip pain go away. Sunset is a very powerful time for prayer. A short prayer is fine. You know, the shortest prayer in the Bible was when Moses prayed for his sister Miriam, saying: ’God, please heal her.’ ”
And so it was. My mother recruited all of us for the sunset prayer. Each day she opened the Los Angeles Times to the weather page with the sunrise and sunset times, and rested it on her kitchen table. At first, she would put in occasional reminder calls just before sunset.
Then my children would remind me, as they noticed the sun setting. “Mommy,” they would announce, “it’s time to pray for Bubby.” They would look heavenwards and say aloud, “Hashem, please help Bubby’s hip to feel better.”
Not long after we started our campaign, my mother’s hip pain went away. There was no physiological reason for that searing pain to subside. But it did. She was hesitant to talk about it, for fear that somehow that would cause the pain to return. But it didn’t. Once in a while she took a pain killer, but not often.
My mother lived for two more years, until shortly after her 85th birthday. I thanked Rabbi Maller, expressing my gratitude for his suggestion, and his prayers, which improved the quality of my mother’s life dramatically. I was sorry I hadn’t thought of a prayer campaign myself.
So, what I do to help others is I pass along the story of my mother and the sunset prayers. And now I have passed it along to you.
Jolie Greiff is a freelance writer and community social worker. She lives with her family in Ramat Beit Shemesh.