As one of the regular attendees at our morning minyan, one of my roles is to help officiate at the Torah readings that make up part of our services on Mondays, Thursdays, and miscellaneous holidays. I call up those who have the honor of saying the blessings at the beginning and end of each reading; I help the reader correct any inadvertent errors (easy enough to make when you consider that the text is consonants only - vowels and cantillation notes must be committed to memory); and I chant the Mi-Shebeirakh prayer on behalf of those who are ill.
The Mi-Shebeirakh (“He Who blessed...”) invokes the aid of the Almighty One in bringing complete healing to the sick. Traditionally, the names of those who are in need of healing are recited aloud, with members of the congregation stepping forward to include their friends and loved ones. To make sure we have all the bases covered, I also keep a list of names on the reading table.
Once your name is on that list, there are only two ways to get off. The first (and vastly preferable) way is to get better - to have your health improve to the point where you no longer are in need of special divine intervention. The second (far less preferable) way is to shuffle along to the Olam ha-Ba - the Next World.
Alas, over the years I’ve had to remove all too many names from the list for the second reason.
Last night, we received the sad news that a former Minyan Regular had passed away. Michael had been ailing for years, and finally an infection had come along that his body was unable to fight off.
Years ago, I had written a post about him... because it is entirely possible that you have seen his face before. That is, if you’re old enough to remember this Federal Express ad from back in the day:
Yes, that’s Michael picking up that phone booth. (He had help, in the form of a crane.) Remember phone booths?
When he was younger, they called him Royteh, on account of his red hair. He had a temperament to match, but you’d never know it - unless you dared to call him “Mikey.”
We’ll miss you, Michael... ave atque vale!
The late Michael Solomon, 1943-2013. Barukh dayan emet.