The AMIDAH (Hebrew : תפילת העמידה, TEFILAT HAAMIDAH,
"The Standing Prayer"), also called the SHMONEH ESREH (שמנה
עשרה, "The Eighteen", in reference to the original number of
constituent blessings : there are now nineteen), is the central prayer
Jewish liturgy . This prayer, among others, is found in the
siddur , the traditional
Jewish prayer book. As Judaism's central
prayer, surpassed only by the
Birkat Hamazon , the
Amidah is the only
prayer that is designated simply as tefila (תפילה, "prayer")
in rabbinic literature . The short version of the Amidah, designated
for persons in a rush or under pressure, is called Havineinu. It
consist of only seven brachot ("blessings"). To recite the
a mitzvah de-rabbanan (Aramaic: דרבנן) for, according to legend,
it was first composed by the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah ("Men of the
Jews recite the
Amidah at each of three prayer services in
a typical weekday: morning, afternoon, and evening. A special
Amidah is also the core of the
service that is recited on
Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), Rosh Chodesh
(the day of the
New Moon ), and Jewish festivals , after the morning
Torah reading , with various forms of the
Amidah that depend on the
occasion. The typical weekday
Amidah actually consists of nineteen
blessings, though it originally had eighteen; when the
modified for specific prayers or occasions, the first three blessings
and the last three remain constant, framing the
Amidah used in each
service, while the middle thirteen blessings are replaced by blessings
specific to the occasion.
The language of the
Amidah most likely dates from the mishnaic
period, both before and after the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) at
which time it was considered unnecessary to prescribe its text and
Talmud indicates that when
Gamaliel II undertook
to fix definitely the public service and to regulate private devotion,
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.
Other sources, also in the Talmud, indicate, however, that this prayer
was part of the original 18; and that 19 prayers came about when the
15th prayer for the restoration of
Jerusalem and of the throne of
David (coming of the Messiah) was split into two.
The prayer is recited standing with feet firmly together, and
preferably while facing
Jerusalem . In Orthodox public worship, the
Shemoneh Esrei is usually first prayed silently by the congregation
and is then repeated aloud by the chazzan (reader); the repetition's
original purpose was to give illiterate members of the congregation a
chance to participate in the collective prayer by answering "
Conservative and Reform congregations sometimes abbreviate the public
recitation of the
Amidah according to their customs. The rules
governing the composition and recital of the
Amidah are discussed
primarily in the
Talmud , in Chapters 4–5 of Berakhot ; in the
Torah , in chapters 4–5 of Hilkhot Tefilah; and in the
Shulchan Aruch , Laws 89–127.
* 1 Origin
* 2 When the
Amidah is recited
* 3 Structure of the weekday
* 3.1 Final benedictions
* 3.2 Concluding meditation
* 3.3 Mode of prayer
* 3.3.1 Concentration
* 3.3.2 Interruptions
* 3.3.3 Silent prayer
* 3.3.4 Standing
* 3.3.5 Facing
* 3.3.6 Three steps
* 3.3.7 Bowing
* 3.4 The repetition
* 4.1 Amidot for
Amidah for festivals
* 4.4 Ne\'ilah
* 5 Occasional changes to the
* 5.1 Prayers for rain in winter and dew in summer
* 5.1.1 "Mentioning the power" of rain (הזכרת גבורות
* 5.1.2 Requesting (praying for) rain (שאלת גשמים)
* 5.1.3 Extended prayers for rain and dew
* 5.2 Conclusion of
Shabbat and Festivals
* 5.3 The
Ten Days of Repentance
Ten Days of Repentance
* 5.4 Fast days
* 5.5 Ya\'aleh VeYavo
* 5.7 Modern changes by liberal denominations
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 7.1 Citations
* 7.2 Sources
* 8 External links
The language of the
Amidah most likely comes from the mishnaic
period, both before and after the destruction of the Temple (70 CE)
as the probable time of its composition and compilation. In the time
Mishnah , it was considered unnecessary to prescribe its text
and content. This may have been simply because the language was well
known to the Mishnah's authors. The
Mishnah may also not have
recorded a specific text because of an aversion to making prayer a
matter of rigor and fixed formula, an aversion that continued at least
to some extent throughout the Talmudic period, as evidenced by the
R. Eliezer (
Talmud Ber. 29b) and
R. Simeon ben Yohai (Ab.
R. Jose held that one should include something new in one's
prayer every day (
Talmud Yerushalmi Ber. 8b), a principle said to have
been carried into practice by R. Eleazar and R. Abbahu (ib.). Prayer
was not to be read as one would read a letter (ib.).
However, even the talmudic sources reflect such diverse opinions
including the one attributing the formulation of the
Amidah to the
"men of the Great
Synagogue " (Ber.33a, Meg. 17b), namely to the early
Second Temple period, as opposed to one that explicitly ascribes the
arrangement of the prayer to the activity of
Rabban Gamliel in the
post-destruction era at
Yavneh (Ber. 28b).
Talmud names Simeon ha-Pakuli as the editor of the collection in
the academy of R. Gamaliel II. at
Yavneh . (Ber. 28b). But this can
not mean that the benedictions were unknown before that date; for in
other passages the "Shemoneh 'Esreh" is traced to the "first wise men"
(Sifre, Deut. 343), and again to "120 elders and among these a number
of prophets" (Meg. 17b). In order to remove the discrepancies between
the latter and the former assignment of editorship, the
refuge in the explanation that the prayers had fallen into disuse, and
that Gamaliel reinstituted them (Meg. 18a).
The historical kernel in these conflicting reports seems to be that
the benedictions date from the earliest days of the Pharisaic
Synagogue. 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. This is apparent
from the haggadic endeavor to connect the stated times of prayer with
the sacrificial routine of the Temple, the morning and the afternoon
"Tefillah" recalling the constant offerings (Ber. 26b; Gen. R.
lxviii.), while for the evening "Tefillah" recourse was had to
artificial comparison with the sacrificial portions consumed on the
altar during the night.
Gamaliel II . undertook finally both to fix definitely the public
service and to regulate private devotion. He directed Simeon ha-Pakoli
to edit the benedictions-probably in the order they had already
acquired-and made it a duty, incumbent on every one, to recite the
prayer three times daily.
According to the
Talmud Gamaliel directed
Samuel ha-Katan to write
another paragraph against informers and heretics making the number
nineteen (Ber. iv. 3; see Grätz, "Gesch." 3d ed., iv. 30 et seq.).
This addition is the 12th prayer in the modern sequence.
WHEN THE AMIDAH IS RECITED
On regular weekdays, the
Amidah is prayed three times, once each
during the morning, afternoon, and evening services that are known
respectively as Shacharit, Minchah, and Ma'ariv.
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 . The
prescribed times for reciting the
Amidah thus may come from the times
of the public tamid ("eternal") sacrifices that took place in the
Jerusalem . After the Second Temple's destruction in 70 CE,
Council of Jamnia determined that the
Amidah would substitute for
the sacrifices, directly applying
Hosea 's dictate, "So we will render
for bullocks the offering of our lips." For this reason, the Amidah
should be recited during the time period in which the tamid would have
been offered. Accordingly, since the Ma'ariv service was originally
optional, as it replaces the overnight burning of ashes on the Temple
altar rather than a specific sacrifice, Maariv's
Amidah is not
repeated by the hazzan (reader), while all other Amidot are repeated.
Rosh Chodesh , and other
Jewish holidays there is a
Amidah to replace the additional communal
sacrifices of these days. On
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), a fifth
public recitation, Ne'ilah, is added to replace a special sacrifice
offered on that day.
STRUCTURE OF THE WEEKDAY AMIDAH
Amidah contains nineteen blessings. Each blessing ends
with the signature "Blessed are you, O Lord..." and the opening
blessing begins with this signature as well. The first three blessings
as a section are known as the shevach ("praise"), and serve to inspire
the worshipper and invoke God's mercy. The middle thirteen blessings
compose the bakashah ("request"), with six personal requests, six
communal requests, and a final request that God accept the prayers.
The final three blessings, known as the hoda'ah ("gratitude"), thank
God for the opportunity to serve the Lord. The shevach and hoda'ah are
standard for every Amidah, with some changes on certain occasions.
The nineteen blessings are as follows:
* Known as Avot ("Ancestors") this prayer offers praise of God as
the God of the Biblical patriarchs, "God of
Abraham , God of
* Known as Gevurot ("powers"), this offers praise of God for His
power and might. This prayer includes a mention of God's healing of
the sick and resurrection of the dead. It is called also Tehiyyat
ha-Metim = "the resurrection of the dead."
* Rain is considered as great a manifestation of power as the
resurrection of the dead; hence in winter a line recognizing God's
bestowal of rain is inserted in this benediction. Except for many
Ashkenazim, most communities also insert a line recognizing dew in the
* Known as Kedushat ha-Shem ("the sanctification of the Name") this
offers praise of God's holiness.
* During the chazzan's repetition, a longer version of the blessing
Kedusha is chanted responsively. The
Kedusha is further
Shabbat and Festivals.
* Known as Binah ("understanding") this is a petition to God to
grant wisdom and understanding.
* Known as Teshuvah ("return", "repentance") this prayer asks God to
Jews to return to a life based on the
Torah , and praises God as
a God of repentance.
* Known as Selichah, this asks for forgiveness for all sins , and
praises God as being a God of forgiveness.
* Known as Geulah ("redemption") this praises God as a rescuer of
the people Israel.
* Known as Refuah ("healing") this is a prayer to heal the sick.
* Known as Birkat HaShanim ("blessing for years "), this prayer asks
God to bless the produce of the earth.
* A prayer for rain is included in this blessing during the rainy
* Known as Galuyot ("diasporas"), this prayer asks God to allow the
ingathering of the Jewish exiles back to the land of
* Known as Birkat HaDin ("Justice") this asks God to restore
righteous judges as in the days of old.
* Known as
Birkat HaMinim ("the sectarians, heretics") this asks God
to destroy those in heretical sects (
Minuth ), who slander
who act as informers against Jews.
* Known as Tzadikim ("righteous") this asks God to have mercy on all
who trust in Him, and asks for support for the righteous.
* Known as Bo'ne Yerushalayim ("Builder of Jerusalem") asks God to
Jerusalem and to restore the Kingdom of
* Known as Birkat
Blessing of David") Asks God to bring the
descendant of King
David , who will be the messiah.
* Known as Tefillah ("prayer") this asks God to accept our prayers,
to have mercy and be compassionate.
* Known as Avodah ("service") this asks God to restore the Temple
services and sacrificial services.
* Known as Hoda'ah ("thanksgiving") this is a prayer of thanksgiving,
thanking God for our lives, for our souls, and for God's miracles that
are with us every day. The text can be found in the next section.
* When the chazzan reaches this blessing during the repetition, the
congregation recites a prayer called Modim deRabbanan ("the
thanksgiving of the Rabbis").
* Known as
Sim Shalom ("Grant Peace"); the last prayer is the one
for peace , goodness, blessings, kindness and compassion. Ashkenazim
generally say a shorter version of this blessing at Minchah and
Shalom Rav .
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. Selah. Blessed be Thou, O Lord,
Thy name is good, and to Thee it is meet to give thanks.
The priestly blessing is said in the reader's repetition of the
Shacharit Amidah, and at the
Shabbat and Jewish
Holidays . 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
The custom has gradually developed of reciting, at the conclusion of
the latter, the supplication with which Mar, the son of Rabina, 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 Thy commandments let me pursue. As
for those that think evil of me speedily thwart their counsel and
destroy their plots. Do for Thy name's sake, do this for Thy right
hand's sake, do this for the sake of Thy holiness, do this for the
sake of Thy Torah. That Thy beloved ones may rejoice, let Thy right
hand bring on help and answer me... May the words of my mouth and the
meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Eternal, my rock
and my redeemer.
Judaism also adds the following prayer
to the conclusion of every Amidah:
May it be your will, O my God and God of my fathers, that the Temple
be rebuilt speedily in our days, and give us our portion in your Torah
, and there we will worship you with reverence as in ancient days and
former years. And may the
Mincha offering of Judah and
pleasing to God, as in ancient days and former years.
It is also customary to add individual personal prayers as part of
silent recitation of the Amidah.
Rabbi Shimon enjoins praying by rote:
"But rather make your prayer a request for mercy and compassion before
the Ominipresent." Some authorities encourage the worshipper to say
something new in his prayer every time.
MODE OF PRAYER
The many laws concerning the Amidah's mode of prayer are designed to
focus one's concentration as one beseeches God.
Judaism is called "avodah shebalev," "Service of the
Heart," and thus prayer is only worthwhile if one focuses one's
emotion and intention, kavanah, to the words of the prayers. The
Shulchan Aruch thus advises that one pray using a translation one can
understand, though learning the meaning of the Hebrew liturgy is
Also, according to
Halakhah , the first blessing of the
be said with intention; if said by rote alone, the worshipper must go
back and repeat it with intention. The Rema wrote that this is no
longer necessary, because "modern" (he lived in the 16th century)
attention spans are so short, one would not have intention the second
time either. The second to last blessing of Hoda'ah also has high
priority for kavanah.
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.
The guideline of silent prayer comes from Hannah 's behavior during
prayer, when she prayed in the Temple to bear a child. She prayed
"speaking upon her heart," so that no one else could hear, yet her
lips were moving. Therefore, when saying the
Amidah one's voice should
be audible to oneself, but not loud enough for others to hear.
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
Ezekiel perceived as having "one straight leg." As
worshippers address the Divine Presence, they must remove all material
thoughts from their minds, just as angels are purely spiritual beings.
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. By nature, a person's brain is active and wandering.
Amidah brings everything into focus.
Talmud says that one who is riding an animal or sitting in a boat
(or by modern extension, flying in an airplane) may recite the Amidah
while seated, as the precarity of standing would disturb one's focus.
Amidah is preferably said facing
Jerusalem , as the patriarch
Jacob proclaimed, "And this is the gateway to Heaven," where prayers
may ascend. 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.
There is a dispute regarding how one measures direction for this
purpose. Some say one should face the direction which would be the
shortest distance to Jerusalem, i.e. the arc of a great circle , as
defined in elliptic geometry . 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. In the presence of an ark that does not
face Jerusalem, one should pray toward the ark instead.
Jews have the custom to take three steps back and then
three steps forward both before and after reciting the Amidah. The
steps backward at the beginning represent withdrawing one's attention
from the material world, and then stepping forward to symbolically
approach the King of Kings. The Mekhilta notes that the significance
of the three steps is based on the three barriers that
Moses had to
pass through at Sinai before entering God's realm. The Mishnah
Berurah wrote that only the steps forward are necessary, while the
backward steps beforehand are a prevalent custom.
Talmud relates that the practice of stepping backward
Amidah is 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 also compared to a
student who respectfully backs away from his teacher.
Talmud therefore states:
Rabbi Alexandri said in the name of Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi: One who
has prayed should take three steps backward and afterwards pray for
peace. Rav Mordecai said to him: Once he has stepped three steps
backward, there he should remain.
In following this discussion, the worshipper takes three steps back
at the end of the final meditation, and 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." Many have the custom to
remain standing in place until immediately before the chazzan reaches
Kedusha , and then take three steps forward.
The worshipper bows at four points in the Amidah: at the beginning
and end of both the first blessing of Avot and the second to last
blessing of Hoda'ah. At the opening words of Avot and at the
conclusion of both these blessings, when the one says "Blessed are
You, O Lord," one bends one's knees at "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." At the beginning of Hoda'ah, one bows while
saying the opening words "We are grateful to You" without bending the
knees. At each of these bows, one must bend over until the vertebrae
protrude from one's back; one physically unable to do so suffices by
nodding the head.
During certain parts of the
Amidah said on
Rosh Hashana and Yom
Jews traditionally go down to the floor upon their
knees and make their upper body bowed over like an arch, similar to
Muslims, though not exactly in the same manner. There are some
Ashkenazi customs as to how long one remains in this
Jews among the
Dor Daim and Talmidhe haRambam
understand both the Mishneh
Torah and the Talmudic source texts
concerning bowing in the Shemoneh Esreh to be teaching that one must
always prostrate, lying flat on the ground, not only during the High
Holy Days , but throughout the year during the four bows of the
Amidah. It is hard to know the percentage of those who hold by the
latter view, the likelihood being that most who accept such a view
usually only do so in private or when praying among like-minded
In Orthodox and Conservative (Masorti) public worship, the Shemoneh
Esrei is first prayed silently by the congregation; it is then
repeated aloud by the chazzan (reader), except for the evening Amidah
or when a minyan is not present. The congregation responds "
Amen " to
each blessing, and "Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo" ("blessed is He and
blessed is His Name") when the chazzan invokes God's name in the
signature "Blessed are You, O Lord..." If there are not six members of
the minyan responding "Amen," the chazzan's blessing is considered in
The repetition's original purpose was to give illiterate members of
the congregation a chance to be included in the chazzan's
Conservative and Reform congregations sometimes abbreviate the public
recitation of the
Amidah by saying it once, with the first three
blessings said out loud and the remainder silently. This abridged
style, commonly referred to as (Yiddish : הויכע קדושה)
"heikhe kedusha," is also performed within Orthodox
Judaism in certain
circumstances; in some communities it is customary for mincha to be
recited in this way. It is usually used to lead into the Silent Prayer
AMIDOT FOR SHABBAT
Shabbat Ma'ariv (evening),
Shacharit (morning), Mussaf
Amidah prayers all have special
forms in which the middle 13 benedictions are replaced by one, known
as Kedushat haYom ("sanctity of the day"), so that each
is composed of seven benedictions. 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.
On Sabbath eve, after the congregation has read the
the reader repeats aloud the Me'En Sheva', or summary of the seven
blessings. The congregation then continues:
Shield of the fathers by His word, reviving the dead by His command,
the holy God to whom none is like; who causeth His people to rest on
His holy Sabbath-day, for in them He took delight to cause them to
rest. 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. God of the 'acknowledgments,' Lord of 'Peace,' who
sanctifieth the Sabbath and blesseth the seventh and causeth the
people who are filled with Sabbath delight to rest as a memorial of
the work in the beginning of Creation.
AMIDAH FOR FESTIVALS
On festivals a special "Sanctification of the Day" prayer, made up of
several sections, replaces the intermediate 13 blessings in the
evening, morning, and afternoon prayers. The first section is
Thou hast chosen us from all the nations, hast loved us and wast
pleased with us; Thou hast lifted us above all tongues, and hast
hallowed us by Thy commandments, and hast brought us, O our King, to
Thy service, and hast pronounced over us Thy great and holy name.
A paragraph naming the special festival and its special character
If the Sabbath coincides with it, special sections are added
mentioning both the
Shabbat and the festival.
Shabbat , festivals (i.e., on Yom Tov and on
Chol HaMoed ),
Rosh Chodesh (new month in the Jewish Calendar), a Mussaf
Amidah is said, both silently and repeated by the Reader.
Mussaf service is technically a separate, free-standing service
which could potentially be said any time between the shacharit
(morning) and mincha (afternoon) services, but today is normally
recited immediately after the regular morning service as part of
single, but extended, worship session. The
Amidah begins with
the same first three and concludes with the same last three blessings
as the regular Amidah. However, in place of the 13 intermediate
blessings of the daily service, special prayers are added for the
holiday. In Orthodox Services, these prayers recount the special
Mussaf sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in
Jerusalem on the
occasion, and contains a plea for the building of a
Third Temple and
the restoration of sacrificial worship. The biblical passage referring
Mussaf sacrifice of the day is included. The Priestly Blessing
is said during the Reader's repetition of the Amidah. Outside the land
Israel , the
Amidah of major
Jewish holidays is the only
time the Priestly
Blessing is chanted by actual kohanim (priests).
Rosh Hashanah is unique in that apart from the
first and last 3 blessings, it contains 3 central blessings making a
total of 9, compared to the normal 19 in a weekday
Amidah or 7 in a
Shabbat or Festival Amidah. These 3 blessings each end a section of
Amidah – which are "Malchuyot" (Kingship, and also includes the
blessing for the holiness of the day as is in a normal Mussaf),
"Zichronot" (Remembrance) and "Shofrot" (concerning the Shofar). Each
section contains an introductory paragraph followed by selections of
verses about the "topic". The verses are 3 from the
Torah , 3 from the
Ketuvim , 3 from the Nevi\'im , and one more from the Torah. During
the repetition of the Amidah, the
Shofar is sounded (except on
Shabbat) after the blessing that ends each section.
Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative
Judaism has devised two forms
Amidah with varying degrees of difference from the
Orthodox form. One version refers to the prescribed sacrifices, but in
the past tense ("there our ancestors offered" rather than "there we
shall offer"). A newer version omits references to sacrifices
Reform and Reconstructionist
Judaism generally omit the
on Shabbat, though it is retained on some festivals.
Yom Kippur , a fifth
Amidah (in addition to the Ma'ariv (Evening),
Mussaf (Additional), and
Amidah is recited and repeated at the closing of Yom Kippur. The
congregation traditionally stands during the entire repetition of this
prayer, which contains a variety of confessional and supplicatory
additions. In the
Ashkenazi custom, it is also the only time that the
Avinu Malkeinu prayer is said on Shabbat, should
Yom Kippur fall on
Shabbat, though by this point
Shabbat is celestially over.
OCCASIONAL CHANGES TO THE AMIDAH
PRAYERS FOR RAIN IN WINTER AND DEW IN SUMMER
"Mentioning The Power" Of Rain (הזכרת גבורות גשמים)
The phrase "הזכרת גבורות גשמים" ("He causes the
wind to blow and the rain to fall") is inserted in the second
benediction of the Amidah, known as גבורות (Powers), throughout
the rainy half of the year (ימות הגשמים, yemot
hageshamim, i.e., between
Sukkot and Passover). The most prominent of
God's powers mentioned in this benediction is the resurrection of the
dead. Rain is mentioned here because God's provision of rain is
considered to be as great a manifestation of His power as the
resurrection of the dead. At the same time, because rain out of season
can be more harmful than helpful, Jewish tradition strongly avoids any
hint of invoking rain outside the rainy season.
A passage about rain is not considered appropriate to (Northern
Hemisphere) spring and summer, when rain does not fall in Israel.
Nevertheless, given the importance of moisture during the dry summer
of Israel, many (though not all) versions of the liturgy insert the
phrase "מוריד הטל," "He causes the dew to fall," during
Amidah of the dry half of the year. The "mention" of rain (or
dew) starts and ends on major festivals (
Shemini Atzeret and Passover)
because they are days of great joy, and because they are days of
heavy attendance at public prayers. Therefore, the seasonal change in
the language of the prayers is immediately and widely disseminated.
Requesting (praying For) Rain (שאלת גשמים)
In the ninth blessing of the weekday Amidah, the words "dew and rain"
are inserted during the winter season in the Land of Israel. This
season is defined as beginning on the 60th day after the autumnal
equinox (usually 4 December) and ending on Passover. In the Land of
Israel, however, the season begins on the 7th of
Cheshvan . The
Yemenite Jewish rituals, as opposed to just adding the
words "dew and rain" during the winter, have two distinct versions of
the ninth blessing. During the dry season, the blessing has this form:
Bless us, our Father, in all the work of our hands, and bless our
year with gracious, blessed, and kindly dews: be its outcome life,
plenty, and peace as in the good years, for Thou, O Eternal, are good
and does good and blesses the years. Blessed be Thou, O Eternal, who
blesses the years.
In the rainy season, the phraseology is changed to read:
Bless upon us, O Eternal our God, this year and all kinds of its
produce for goodness, and bestow dew and rain for blessing on all the
face of the earth; and make abundant the face of the world and fulfil
the whole of Thy goodness. Fill our hands with Thy blessings and the
richness of the gifts of Thy hands. Preserve and save this year from
all evil and from all kinds of destroyers and from all sorts of
punishments: and establish for it good hope and as its outcome peace.
Spare it and have mercy upon it and all of its harvest and its fruits,
and bless it with rains of favor, blessing, and generosity; and let
its issue be life, plenty, and peace as in the blessed good years; for
Thou, O Eternal, are good and does good and blesses the years. Blessed
be Thou, O Eternal, who blesses the years.
Extended Prayers For Rain And Dew
Shemini Atzeret , the traditional beginning of the rainy season in
Israel , a special extended prayer for rain (Tefillat
Geshem ) is
added. On the first day of
Passover , the traditional beginning of the
dry season in Israel, a special extended prayer for dew (Tefillat Tal)
is added. In the Ashkenazic tradition, both prayers are recited by the
Reader during the repetition of the
Mussaf Amidah. Sephardic
tradition, which prohibits such additions, places them before the
CONCLUSION OF SHABBAT AND FESTIVALS
Amidah following the conclusion of a
Shabbat or Yom Tov
, a paragraph beginning Atah Chonantanu ("You have granted us...") is
inserted into the weekday Amidah's fourth blessing of Binah. The
paragraph thanks God for the ability to separate between the holy and
mundane, paraphrasing the concepts found in the
Havdalah ceremony. In
Talmud teaches that if this paragraph is forgotten, the
Amidah need not be repeated, because
Havdalah will be said later over
wine. Once Atah Chonantanu is said, work prohibited on the holy day
becomes permitted because the separation from the holy day has been
THE TEN DAYS OF REPENTANCE
Ten Days of Repentance
Ten Days of Repentance between
Rosh Hashanah and Yom
Kippur , additional lines are inserted in the first, second, second to
last, and last blessings of all Amidot. These lines invoke God's mercy
and pray for inscription in the
Book of Life . In many communities,
when the chazzan reaches these lines during his repetition, he pauses
and the congregation recites the lines before him. During the final
recitation of the
Yom Kippur the prayer is slightly modified
to read "seal us" in the book of life, rather than write us.
Moreover, the signatures of two blessings are changed to reflect the
days' heightened recognition of God's sovereignty. In the third
blessing, the signature "Blessed are You, O Lord, the Holy God" is
replaced with "Blessed are You, O Lord, the Holy King." On weekdays,
the signature of the eleventh blessing is changed from "Blessed are
You, O Lord, King who loves justice and judgement" to "Blessed are
You, O Lord, the King of judgement."
On public fast days , special prayers for mercy are added to the
Amidah. At Shacharit, no changes are made in the silent Amidah, but
the chazzan adds an additional blessing in his repetition right after
the blessing of Geulah, known by its first word
Aneinu ("Answer us").
The blessing concludes with the signature "Blessed are You, O Lord,
Who responds (some say: to His nation Israel) in time of trouble."
At Minchah, the chazzan adds
Aneinu in his repetition again, as at
Shacharit. In addition, during the silent Amidah, all fasting
congregatants recite the text of
Aneinu without its signature in the
blessing of Tefillah. In addition, communities that say the shortened
version of the Shalom blessing at Minchah and
Maariv say the complete
version at this Minchah. The chazzan also says the priestly blessing
before Shalom as he would at Shacharit, unlike the usual weekday
Minchah when the priestly blessing is not said.
On Tisha B\'Av at Minchah, Ashkenazim add a prayer that begins Nachem
("Console...") to the conclusion of the blessing Binyan Yerushalayim,
elaborating on the mournful state of the Temple in
Jerusalem . The
concluding signature of the blessing is also extended to say "Blessed
are You, O Lord, Who consoles Zion and builds Jerusalem." In other
traditions, it is said in all the Amidot of Tisha B'av, or not
included at all.
Chol HaMoed (Intermediate Days of Festivals) and
Rosh Chodesh (New
Months), the prayer Ya'aleh Veyavo ("May rise and be seen...") is
inserted in the blessing of Avodah. Ya'aleh Veyavo is also said in the
Kedushat HaYom blessing of the Festival Amidah, and at Birkat HaMazon
. One phrase of the prayer varies according to the day's holiday,
mentioning it by name. Traditionally, the first line is uttered aloud
so that others will take notice.
Purim , the weekday Amidot are recited, but a special
paragraph is inserted into the blessing of Hoda'ah. Each holiday's
paragraph recounts the historical background of that holiday, thanking
God for his salvation. Both paragraphs are prefaced by the same
opening line, "We thank You for the miraculous deeds (Al HaNissim) and
for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and the saving acts
wrought by You, as well as for the wars which You waged for our
ancestors in ancient days at this season."
MODERN CHANGES BY LIBERAL DENOMINATIONS
The most recent known change to the text of the standard daily Amidah
by an authority accepted by Orthodox
Judaism was done by the
the 16th century. He formulated a text of the
Amidah which seems to be
a fusion of the
Sepharadi text in accordance with his
Kabbalah . Following the establishment of the State
Israel and the reunification of
Jerusalem , some Orthodox
authorities proposed changes to the special Nachem ("Console...")
prayer commemorating the destruction of
Jerusalem added to the Amidah
on Tisha B\'av in light of these events.
Conservative and Reform
Judaism have altered the text to varying
degrees to bring it into alignment with their view of modern needs and
Judaism retains the traditional number and
time periods during which the
Amidah must be said, while omitting
explicit supplications for restoration of the sacrifices .
Reconstructionist and Reform
Judaism , consistent with their views
that the rhythm of the ancient sacrifices should no longer drive
modern Jewish prayer, often omit some of the
Amidah prayers, such as
the Mussaf, omit temporal requirements, and omit references to the
Temple and its sacrifices.
Judaism has changed the first benediction, traditionally
invoking the phrase "God of our Fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac
and God of Jacob," one of the Biblical names of God. New editions of
the Reform siddur explicitly say avoteinu v'imoteinu ("our fathers and
our mothers"), and Reform and some Conservative congregations amend
the second invocation to "God of Abraham, God of
Isaac and God of
Jacob; God of Sarah, God of Rebekah, God of Leah, and God of Rachel."
The new reform prayer book, Mishkan T\'filah , reverses Leah's and
Rachel's names. Some feminist
Jews have added the names of
Zilpah , since they were mothers to four tribes of Israel.
Liberal branches of
Judaism make some additional changes to the
opening benedictions. the phrase umeivi go'eil ("and brings a
redeemer") is changed in Reform
Judaism to umeivi ge'ulah ("who brings
redemption"), replacing the personal messiah with a Messianic Age. The
phrase m'chayei hameitim ("who causes the dead to come to life") is
replaced in the Reform and Reconstructionist siddurim with m'chayei
hakol ("who gives life to all") and m'chayei kol chai ("who gives life
to all life"), respectively. This represents a turn away from the
traditional article of faith that God will resurrect the dead.
Prayer 17, Avodah. asks God to restore the Temple services , build a
Third Temple , and restore sacrificial worship. The concluding
meditation ends with an additional prayer for the restoration of
Temple worship. Both prayers have been modified within the siddur of
Judaism , so that although they still ask for the
restoration of the Temple, they remove the explicit plea for the
resumption of sacrifices. (Some Conservative congregations remove the
concluding silent prayer for the Temple entirely.) The Reform siddur
also modifies this prayer, eliminating all reference to the Temple
service and replacing the request for the restoration of the Temple
with "God who is near to all who call upon you, turn to your servants
and be gracious to us; pour your spirit upon us."
Many Reform congregations will often conclude with either Sim Shalom
Shalom Rav . Once either of those prayers are chanted or sung, many
congregations proceed to a variation on the Mi Shebeirach (typically
the version popularized by
Debbie Friedman ), the traditional prayer
for healing, followed by silent prayer, and then a resumption of the
Judaism is divided on the role of the
More traditional Conservative congregations recite a prayer similar to
Mussaf prayer in Orthodox services, except they refer to Temple
sacrifices only in the past tense and do not include a prayer for the
restoration of the sacrifices. More liberal Conservative congregations
omit references to the Temple sacrifices entirely. Reconstructionist
and Reform congregations generally do not do the
Amidah at all,
but if they do, they omit all references to Temple worship.
* The Transliterated
* Zion and
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* ^ Machon Shilo; Bar-Hayim, David. "The Havinenu Prayer: Lost in
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* ^ Abramowitz, Jack. "Shemoneh Esrei #1 – Avos (Fathers)".
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* ^ Ber. iv. 3; see Grätz, "Gesch." 3d ed., iv. 30 et seq..
* ^ Donin,
Rabbi Hayim Halevy, To Pray as a Jew, p. 92, citing Yer.
Berakhot 2:4 and Eliezer Levy, Yesodot Hatefilah
* ^ Donin, pp. 95–96
* ^ 1906
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Maimonides on Men. iv. 1b, quoted by Elbogen, "Gesch. des
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* ^ Berakhot 26b
Talmud Berachot 17a
* ^ Pirkei Avot 2:17
Orach Chayim §101
Orach Chayim §101
* ^ Samuel I 2; Berakhot 31b
* ^ Genesis 28:17
* ^ Berakhot 30a
* ^ Mekhilta, Shemos 20:18
Mishnah Berurah § 95
Mishnah Berurah §113
Talmud Berakhot 28b
* ^ Ber. 29, 57b; Pes. 104a
* ^ See, e.g., Ta\'an. 2b; Ber. 33a.
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* Feuer, Avrohom Chaim (1990), Shemoneh Esrei, New York: Mesorah .
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* Joseph Heinemann "Prayer in the Talmud", Gruyter, New York, 1977
* ——— (1981), 'Iyyunei Tefilla" Magnes,
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Paula Reimers , "Feminism,
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