Yesterday morning, a friend of mine introduced me to a Rabbi who worked in the area of Grief Counseling. We had a brief discussion about the Mi-Sheberach prayer that is recited to ask for the healing of the sick. He pointed out that our Rabbis, included the phrase '...and may [G-d] send them a complete healing from heaven, a healing of the soul and a healing of the body...' - to indicate that they knew that sickness of the soul and sickness of the body are independent things that have an effect on one another. He also pointed out the vast disproportionate number of Psychologists and Psychiatrists that are Jewish as an indication that this notion of Mental/Spiritual healing is ingrained in the fabric of our culture.
I also recently had the misfortune of making a Shiva visit to a friend. This friend, as well as many others that I have visited during Shiva - indicated that in being a mourner, it was now clear that Shiva was intended for the mourners to have a healing period for their souls. It is a very powerful and helpful thing to be surrounded by loved ones and sharing in their grief. And at the same time, all of us who visit a house of mourning have that concept ingrained in our heads too. We know that our visiting the mourners (just as visiting the sick) gives them the mental wherewithal to go on, to continue to adjust their mind and soul to accepting the new realities of the situation.
The fact that all of this is perpetuated in our religion, the fact that this message and concept, is seemingly universal, even for Jews of various denominational and religious affiliation and observance, goes to show how beautiful our religion really is.
Maybe, on a day when I am cynical about Day School Tuition, Crazy religious practices, or other stupidity being eschewed by the Jewish Establishment, I will come back to this post and understand why I love being Jewish..... because we care.
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