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What do we pray for in the Amidah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


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The Amidah (pronounced ah-MEE-dah) is the central, critical section of Shacharit, Musaf, Minchah and Ma'ariv prayers, around which the other sections were built. In the times of the Temples, when full Tefillah services were not required, tefillah consisted of the Amidah only. The Amidah, which means "standing" in Hebrew, is a series of 12 requests (it is now thirteen as enumerated later in the article**) of G-d recited silently while standing at attention, as if before a king, introduced by three praises of G-d and capped by three thank-yous. Because of the eighteen sections, the amidah is also known as the Shmoneh Esrei, meaning "eighteen" in Hebrew (although it's really nineteen, because of one extra request added later**).

[On Shabbat, holidays and Rosh Chodesh, the musaf Amidah is fewer than nineteen blessings. The first three and last three blessings are the same as all the other times the Amidah is recited, however, the middle changes as appropriate to the special date.]

The first and last three blessings of the Amidah offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d. The middle thirteen, are devoted to all our requests.

The following list (of the middle thirteen) describes the main point of each of these blessings:

4. Knowledge and intelligence.

5. Awaken us to repent.

6. Atonement.

7. Redemption.

8. Cures for our illnesses.

9. Livelihood.

10. Ingathering of the Diaspora.

11. Return of Jewish courts and justice.

12. Elimination of evil. **(This is the 19th blessing which was added later.)

13. Support and reward the righteous.

14. Rebuilding Jerusalem.

15. Restore the royal Davidic House.

16. General request for G-d to hearken to our prayers.

These prayers contain standard liturgy, but should be imbued with your personal feelings and desires as you adopt each word to be your own. If you would like to add your own words, find the blessing which is closest to the nature of your request, and insert your private prayer. If your request doesn't match any of the above blessings, you can always add it to blessing #16.


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(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Highlight of every prayer, recited silently while standing. Weekday Amidah consists of nineteen blessings, Sabbath and holiday Amidah contains seven blessings.
Rosh Chodesh
The "Head of the Month," Rosh Chodesh is observed the first day of every Jewish month. If the previous month had 30 days, then the last day of the previous month is also observed; hence a two-day Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh is a semi-holiday, marked by Torah-reading and special prayers.
Morning prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
The additional prayer service added (after the morning prayers) on Sabbath, Biblically mandated holidays and the first day of the Jewish month.
Prayer. The Jewish Sages instituted three daily prayers, and an additional prayer on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Afternoon prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.