Doing a Double-take

Have you ever been reading a book, and all of a sudden you stop short and think, “Whoah, wait…what did that just say?!” Well, I had one of those moments this morning, I was reading a book by Taylor Marshall titled The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origin of Catholic Christianity, when screeech, on went the brakes, and I jammed my eye transmission in reverse:

Just after that, I recognized someone in the waiting room. It was Mr. Smith from St. Andrew’s. Now I understood why I had been called upon to pray with a Jewish woman–she was married to an Episcopalian. Up until now, I had not known that his wife was Jewish. He was nervous about her surgery and we talked for a while until the rabbi returned to the waiting room. Mr. Smith formally introduced me to the rabbi, and we shared an interesting conversation about how some Jews bend their knees and raise up on their toes when they pray.
    Then the rabbi asked Mr. Smith a very unusual question. "What is the Hebrew name of Joanna’s mother?"
    The husband thought about it for a moment. "Gee, I don’t know. Why do you ask?"
    "Well, I was going to ask Joanna the name of her mother, but she was already asleep by the time I found her."
    "Why would you need to know her mother’s name?" asked her husband.
        The rabbi explained, "We Jews believe that if someone is suffering and you invoke the name of his or her mother in prayer, God will be more merciful in granting your prayer for that person."

Now what about that! I’m not exactly sure what to do with this. Has anyone else out there heard of this from the Jewish side of things, or have a source for where this practice originated?

3 thoughts on “Doing a Double-take

  1. Hello Nate,

    Praying for healing in the name of one’s mother is part of the eighth benediction of the Amidah “Refuah”. In the middle of the blessing a petition may be inserted specifically for one who is ill, identifying them by means of their mother. Because this prayer is for the “healing of the sick of Israel” naturally the maternal line would be important, for such is considered acceptable proof of one’s Jewish lineage and membership within Israel. In other words, “Mother’s baby — Father’s maybe”.

    According to Yitzchok Kirzner in “The Jewish Art of Prayer” the motivation for asking G-d to heal a specific person is due to their inability to contribute to the Jewish nation at large while sick. With this in mind your “double-take” raises some interesting thoughts regarding Torah observant and/or Messianic Gentiles praying the Refuah.

    Personally, in most instances I do not know the mother’s name of specific people I am praying for, and I pray with the motivation for their individual physical and spiritual healing. Yet, perhaps in the spirit of the Refuah itself beleivers should pray for fellow Gentile (and Jewish) brothers who are ill by identifying them as the son of/daughter of “Abraham in Yeshua” — with the Israel of G-d at large and the essential individual contributions of each of its members in view.



  2. Here’s another point I just remembered. One’s mother is understood to be connected with the soul and life of the person (due to her giving birth to them). Therefore the mother’s name is most appropriate in seeking G-d’s mercy for one who is sick as this affects both their physical and spiritual life.

  3. Fascinating; and I like the line of thinking you’re suggesting.

    The additional obvious question is how does this relate to the veneration of Mary? It suggests that the origins of this “Catholic” practice may be more Jewish than pagan, as has so often been asserted.

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