Prayer for a Soldier

Question

I read that there’s a request to pray for an Israeli soldier who was recently critically wounded in a shooting attack. His name was given as Netanel Ilan ben Shaina Tzipora. I notice that his name mentions his mother’s name. Why is that so? Thanks.

, 8 months

Answers

  1. As of now, we have heard that this soldier has shown improvement in his health, thank God, and is breathing on his own. We continue to pray that he makes a complete and speedy recovery.

    You ask a fascinating question: Why do we use the mother’s name when prayer for someone’s health?

    First of all, it should be pointed out that it’s not enough to only mention the person’s first or first and middle names since that would be too non-specific. And mentioning the last name is not significant in Judaism since it is not a legal name in Jewish tradition. It only exists for the sake of societal convention and norms. Therefore, it makes sense to mention a person’s parent’s name to be clear regarding the person’s exact identity.

    But why specifically the mother’s name?

    One source for this practice of mentioning the mother is the verse in Psalms (116:16): “Please, O Lord, for I am Your servant; I am Your servant the son of Your maidservant.” Here we find King David praying to God for his wellbeing, specifying his mother. This is despite his father being a very righteous person.

    King David chose to mention his mother since it’s a biological fact that the mother’s identity is known for sure, while the identity of the father can never be one hundred percent without doubt. We want to be extremely careful and precise not to incorrectly identify the individual when praying for his/her health and wellbeing.

    But there’s another important reason for using a person’s mother’s name in prayer for recovery. The person’s Jewish identity is determined by his or her mother (unless the person is a convert to Judaism, which is a subject we plan to address in an upcoming article). This Jewish identity, passed down via the mother, is also an inheritance of the person’s spiritual essence. Therefore, when we pray for someone’s good health and recovery, it is important to call attention to the eternal connection of the person to God, a special link that is due to one’s mother.

    May Netanel Ilan ben Shaina Tzipora receive from Above a complete and swift recovery, along with all others who are not well and are in need of healing. Amen.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team