Healing our souls


In the Torah, we read that Moses prays for healing for his sister Miriam when she becomes covered with white scales after speaking out against him (Numbers 12:13).  But Miriam is not sick; the white scales are a punishment, not a sign of illness. So why doesn’t Moses ask God to forgive her instead?  Why is this moment about healing?

Moses recognizes that there is something broken deep inside of his sister.  Apparently, she has been carrying resentment of her brother for a long time, and this has caused cracks in the clear mirror of her soul.  The Torah hints at this in saying that most people to whom God speaks see God as if in a mirror (Numbers 12:6). When the mirror is cracked, the image is distorted.  Moses’s prayer for his sister is for refuat ha-nefesh, a healing of the soul, a restoration of her ability to encounter the divine in herself and in each person she meets.

When we pray for healing, we always pray first for healing of the soul and only then for healing of the body.  All of us carry cracks within us, and sometimes it can feel as if we are completely shattered.  But we, like Miriam, are not alone.  We have the blessing of living in community with others who can see the wholeness in us even in the midst of the cracks.  We can come together on Shabbat and pray for healing for each other and for ourselves.  Together we can reach for the clarity that can allow each of us to be a reflection of the divine.  May we always have the vision to see that reflection shining in each other’s eyes.