From the Rav’s Desk: Saying Tehillim for sick on Shabbos

  1. Question: [Sunday, 12th Sivan, 5781]

A child in our community was unfortunately discovered to contain a brain tumor which is life-threatening, and we were asked to gather children together on Shabbos to say Tehillim on his behalf. Is this allowed?


Tehillim may be recited by individuals on behalf of the sick child, may God give him a speedy recovery, although one may not mention his name for Refuah when saying the tehillim, and likewise one should not do so with a public gathering of children, and rather every child should do so in their home. Nonetheless, if one knows that this will not occur and the children will not do so on their own at home, then in my opinion you may even do a public gathering for the children to recite Tehillim, although without mentioning to them that it is being done on behalf of the sick child but just in general for the saying of Tehillim on behalf of merit of the Jewish people.

Explanation: It is forbidden to pray on behalf of the sick on Shabbos unless the illness is life-threatening to that very day. So long as there is not imminent danger for that day of Shabbos then is forbidden to pray on his behalf. Likewise, at times, even when permitted to pray on Shabbos on behalf of the sick person it should not be done in public in order not to arouse public sadness on Shabbos. Nonetheless, this all refers to personally praying on behalf of the sick and actually mentioning his name, however, to simply recite tehillim there is no source for prohibiting being that it is not a personal prayer and is simply a good deed that is being done in his merit, and is no different than one doing mitzvos or learning Torah on Shabbos in the merit of the sick person so he get better. As is apparent, the sages only prohibited speech that directly mentions the ill person and not speech which simply hints towards him, and hence the permission to do a Mi Shebeirach for Cholim on Shabbos and simply say Shabbos Hi Melizok. Accordingly, certainly the recital of tehillim is permitted.

Sources: See Admur 287:1; 288:8-9; Michaber 288:10; Shach Y.D. 335:10; M”A 288:14; SSH”K 40:59; Piskeiy Teshuvos 288:9


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