Jewish Prayers: Table of Contents Daily Services The Shema The Amidah is the central prayer of all four services: shacharit morning , mincha afternoon , maariv evening , and mussaf additional. The word Amidah literally means standing, because it is recited while standing. It is also known as Shemoneh Esrei, meaning eighteen, because it originally consisted of eighteen blessings, and as tefilah prayer because it is the most important Jewish prayer. The obligation to pray three times a day, which was established by Ezra and codified in the Talmud Berakhot 26b , is fulfilled by reciting the Amidah. In the 5th century B. The exact form and order of the blessings were codified after the destruction of the Second Temple in the first century C.

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Origin[ edit ] The language of the Amidah most likely comes from the mishnaic period, [4] both before and after the destruction of the Temple 70 CE. In the time of the Mishnah , it was considered unnecessary to prescribe its text and content. Gamaliel II undertook to codify uniformly the public service, directing Simeon ha-Pakoli to edit the blessings probably in the order they had already acquired and made it a duty, incumbent on every one, to recite the prayer three times daily.

They were at first spontaneous outgrowths of the efforts to establish the Pharisaic Synagogue in opposition to, or at least in correspondence with, the Sadducean Temple service. The Talmud indicates that when Rabbi Gamaliel II undertook to uniformly codify the public service and to regulate private devotion, he directed Samuel ha-Katan to write another paragraph inveighing against informers and heretics , which was inserted as the twelfth prayer in modern sequence, making the number of blessings nineteen.

One opinion in the Talmud claims, with support from Biblical verses, that the concept for each of the three services was founded respectively by each of the three biblical patriarchs. On Shabbat , Rosh Chodesh , and other Jewish holidays there is a Musaf "Additional" Amidah to replace the additional communal sacrifices of these days. Structure of the weekday Amidah[ edit ] The weekday Amidah contains nineteen blessings.

Each blessing ends with the signature "Blessed are you, O Lord The middle thirteen blessings compose the bakashah "request" , with six personal requests, six communal requests, and a final request that God accept the prayers. Except for many Ashkenazim, most communities also insert a line recognizing dew in the summer. The Kedusha is further expanded on Shabbat and Festivals. Binah "understanding" - asks God to grant wisdom and understanding.

Teshuvah "return", "repentance" - asks God to help Jews to return to a life based on the Torah , and praises God as a God of repentance. Selichah - asks for forgiveness for all sins , and praises God as being a God of forgiveness.

Geulah "redemption" - asks God to rescue the people Israel. Refuah "healing" [22] - a prayer to heal the sick. Birkat HaShanim "blessing for years [of good]" - asks God to bless the produce of the earth.

A prayer for rain is included in this blessing during the rainy season. Galuyot "diasporas" - asks God to allow the ingathering of the Jewish exiles back to the land of Israel. Birkat HaDin "Justice" - asks God to restore righteous judges as in the days of old.

Birkat HaMinim "the sectarians, heretics" - asks God to destroy those in heretical sects Minuth , who slander Jews and who act as informers against Jews. Tzadikim "righteous" - asks God to have mercy on all who trust in Him, and asks for support for the righteous. Tefillah "prayer" - asks God to accept our prayers, to have mercy and be compassionate.

On fast days, Ashkenazic Jews insert Aneinu into this blessing during Mincha. Sephardic Jews recite it during Shacharit as well. Avodah "service" - asks God to restore the Temple services and sacrificial services. When the chazzan reaches this blessing during the repetition, the congregation recites a prayer called Modim deRabbanan "the thanksgiving of the Rabbis". Sim Shalom "Grant Peace" - asks God for peace , goodness, blessings, kindness and compassion.

Ashkenazim generally say a shorter version of this blessing at Minchah and Maariv, called Shalom Rav. Final benedictions[ edit ] Prior to the final blessing for peace, the following is said: We acknowledge to You, O Lord, that You are our God, as You were the God of our ancestors, forever and ever. Rock of our life, Shield of our help, You are immutable from age to age. We thank You and utter Your praise, for our lives that are delivered into Your hands, and for our souls that are entrusted to You; and for Your miracles that are with us every day and for your marvelously kind deeds that are of every time; evening and morning and noon-tide.

Thou art good, for Thy mercies are endless: Thou art merciful, for Thy kindnesses never are complete: from everlasting we have hoped in You. And for all these things may Thy name be blessed and exalted always and forevermore. And all the living will give thanks unto Thee and praise Thy great name in truth, God, our salvation and help.

On public fast days it is also said at Mincha ; and on Yom Kippur , at Neilah. It is not said in a House of Mourning. In Orthodox and some Conservative congregations, this blessing is chanted by kohanim direct descendants of the Aaronic priestly clan on certain occasions.

In Ashkenazic practice, the priestly blessing is chanted by kohanim on Jewish Holidays in the Diaspora , and daily in the Land of Israel. In Yemenite Jewish synagogues and some Sephardi synagogues, kohanim chant the priestly blessing daily, even outside Israel.

Concluding meditation[ edit ] The custom has gradually developed of reciting, at the conclusion of the latter, the supplication with which Mar son of Ravina used to conclude his prayer: My God, keep my tongue and my lips from speaking deceit, and to them that curse me let my soul be silent, and like dust to all. Open my heart in Your Torah, and after [in] Thy commandments let me [my soul] pursue.

As for those that think evil of [against] me speedily thwart their counsel and destroy their plots. That Thy beloved ones may rejoice, let Thy right hand bring on help [salvation] and answer me At this point, some say a Biblical verse related to their name s. For example, someone named Leah might say Psalms , since both Leah and this verse begin with the letter Lamed and end with Hay. This practice is first recorded in the 16th century, and was popularized by the Shelah. And may the Mincha offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasing to God, as in ancient days and former years.

Many Sephardic prayer books correspondingly add: May it be your will, O my God and God of my fathers, that You Shall speedily rebuild the Temple in our days, and give us our portion in your Torah , so that we may fulfill your statutes and do Your Will and serve you with all our heart.

Many also customary add individual personal prayers as part of quiet recitation of the Amidah. Rabbi Shimon discourages praying by rote: "But rather make your prayer a request for mercy and compassion before the Ominipresent.

Concentration[ edit ] Prayer in Judaism is called avodah shebalev "service of the heart". The Shulchan Aruch thus advises that one pray using a translation one can understand, though learning the meaning of the Hebrew liturgy is ideal. Rema 16th century wrote that this is no longer necessary, because "nowadays When the Amidah is said to oneself in the presence of others, many Jews who wear a tallit prayer shawl will drape their tallit over their head, allowing their field of vision to be focused only on their siddur and their personal prayer.

Interruptions[ edit ] Interrupting the Amidah is forbidden. The only exceptions are in cases of danger or for one who needs to relieve oneself, though this rule may depend on the movement of Judaism. There are also halakhot to prevent interrupting the Amidah of others; for example, it is forbidden to sit next to someone praying or to walk within four amot cubits of someone praying.

Standing[ edit ] The name "Amidah," which literally is the Hebrew gerund of "standing," comes from the fact that the worshipper recites the prayer while standing with feet firmly together. This is done to imitate the angels, whom Ezekiel perceived as having "one straight leg.

In a similar vein, the Tiferet Yisrael explains in his commentary, Boaz, that the Amidah is so-called because it helps a person focus his or her thoughts. The Amidah brings everything into focus. The Talmud records the following Baraita on this topic: A blind man, or one who cannot orient himself, should direct his heart toward his Father in Heaven, as it is said, "They shall pray to the Lord" I Kings 8.

One who stands in the diaspora should face the Land of Israel, as it is said, "They shall pray to You by way of their Land" ibid. One who stands in the Land of Israel should face Jerusalem, as it is said, "They shall pray to the Lord by way of the city" ibid. One who stands in Jerusalem should face the Temple. One who stands in the Temple should face the Holy of Holies. One who stands in the Holy of Holies should face the Cover of the Ark. It is therefore found that the entire nation of Israel directs their prayers toward a single location.

Some say one should face the direction which would be the shortest distance to Jerusalem, i. Thus in New York one would face north-northeast. Others say one should face the direction along a rhumb line path to Jerusalem, which would not require an alteration of compass direction. This would be represented by a straight line on a Mercator projection , which would be east-southeast from New York. In practice, many individuals in the Western Hemisphere simply face due east, regardless of location.

Three steps[ edit ] There are varying customs related to taking three steps backwards and then forwards before reciting the Amidah, and likewise after the Amidah. Before reciting the Amidah, it is customary for Ashkenazim to take three steps back and then three steps forward. One takes three steps back upon finishing the final meditation after the Amidah, and then says, while bowing left, right, and forward, "He who makes peace in the heavens, may He make peace for us and all Israel, and let us say, Amen.

The Talmud understands this as a reminder of the practice in the Temple in Jerusalem, when those offering the daily sacrifices would walk backward from the altar after finishing. It is the custom of the Ashkenazim that one bends the knees when saying "Blessed," then bows at "are You," and straightens while saying "O Lord.

The reason for this procedure is that the Hebrew word for "blessed" baruch is related to "knee" berech ; while the verse in Psalms states, "The Lord straightens the bent. During certain parts of the Amidah said on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur , Ashkenazi Jews traditionally go down to the floor upon their knees and make their upper body bowed over like an arch, similar to the Muslim practice of sujud.

There are some variations in Ashkenazi customs as to how long one remains in this position. Some members of the Dor Daim movement also bow in this manner in their daily Amidah prayer.

It is occasionally performed in Orthodox prayers in some communities it is customary for mincha to be recited in this way , and more common in Conservative and Reform congregations.

A variety of customs exist for how exactly this practice is performed. The Kedushat haYom has an introductory portion, which on Sabbath is varied for each of the four services, and short concluding portion, which is constant: Our God and God of our Ancestors!

Be pleased with our rest; sanctify us with Your commandments, give us a share in Your Torah, satiate us with Your bounty, and gladden us in Your salvation. Cleanse our hearts to serve You in truth: let us inherit, O Lord our God, in love and favor, Your holy Sabbath, and may Israel, who loves Your name, rest thereon.

Praised are You, O Lord, who sanctifies the Sabbath. Before Him we shall worship in reverence and fear. We shall render thanks to His name on every day constantly in the manner of the benedictions. Amidah for festivals[ edit ] On festivals , like on Shabbat, the intermediate 13 blessings are replaced by a single blessing concerning "Sanctification of the Day" prayer. However, the text of this blessing differs from on Shabbat.

The first section is constant on all holidays: You have chosen us from all the nations, You have loved us and was pleased with us; You lifted us above all tongues, and sanctified us with Your commandments, and brought us, O our King, to Your service, and pronounced over us Your great and holy name.

A paragraph naming the festival and its special character follow. If the Sabbath coincides with a festival, the festival blessing is recited, but with special additions relating to Shabbat. Mussaf Amidah[ edit ] On the Shabbat , festivals i.

Like the Shacharit and Mincha Amidah, it is recited both quietly and repeated by the Reader.


Transliteration of the Weekday Amidah

If one is unable to stand such as in a car or perhaps ill, you may sit. The rabbis add that this pose mirrors the vision of angels that Ezekiel had in which the feet of the angels appeared as one Ezekiel Because all prayers head tours the Temple Mount and then rise up. In many synagogues in the west, the ark is on the eastern wall of the synagogue for this reason.


Jewish Prayers: The Amidah

Find a version of the Shabbat Amidah in Hebrew here , or consult a prayer book of your choice. Thus, every Amidah is divided into three central sections: praise, petitions and thanks. Originally, Jewish prayer was largely unstructured. Although the Rabbis eventually codified the format and themes of each of the blessings, it was initially left to the creativity of individual prayer leaders to generate the specific wording of the blessings. Individual communities in different countries began to settle on somewhat standard versions of the prayers over time. Today the variations between the traditional texts of the Amidah in different communities are fairly minor.

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