Chapter: 17 – The Amidah

01 – The Amidah Is the Essence of Prayer

The Amidah prayer is the pinnacle of the prayer service, and all the other preceding sections are, to a great extent, preparations towards it. The person praying rises from level to level, from Korbanot to Pesukei d’Zimrah and from Pesukei … Continue reading

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02 – Three Steps Forward Before the Amidah

It is customary to take three steps forward prior to praying the Amidah, in order to express one’s desire to come closer to Hashem and to stand before Him (Rama 95:1). A person who is already standing in his place … Continue reading

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03 – Facing Jerusalem

During most parts of the prayer service, a person may face in any direction he desires. However, when he arrives at the climax of the prayer service and gets up in the Amidah to stand before the King of the … Continue reading

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04 – Standing and Putting One’s Feet Together

During Pesukei d’Zimrah and Birkot Keriat Shema a person is permitted to either sit or stand, but once he reaches Shemoneh Esrei (the Amidah), he must stand with his feet together. When one stands, he summons his complete being, from … Continue reading

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05 – Body and Hand Positions

One reciting the Amidah must lower his head slightly, so that his eyes point downwards in the way of humility; he must imagine himself standing in the Temple and directing his heart up towards the heavens (Yevamot 105b; Shulchan Aruch … Continue reading

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06 – Bowing Down During the Amidah

The Chachamim instituted bowing down in five places in the Amidah: in the beginning and end of Birkat Avot, in the beginning and end of Birkat Modim, and at the end of the Amidah, when one takes three steps backwards. … Continue reading

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07 – Praying Silently

We learn many essential halachot from the prayer of Chanah, who stood and begged Hashem to remember her and grant her a son. Her prayer was accepted and she merited giving birth to Shmuel the prophet, who was the greatest … Continue reading

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08 – In Any Language

It is permitted to recite the Amidah in any language (Sotah 32a). However, it is ideal to pray in Hebrew, for that is the language in which Anshei Knesset HaGedolah composed the wording of the prayers. Furthermore, Hebrew is the … Continue reading

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09 – Kavanah

One reciting the Amidah must have kavanah; that is, he must focus on what he is saying, and he must try not to let his mind be distracted by anything else during the prayer. If other thoughts enter his mind, … Continue reading

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10 – The Order of the Berachot

Shemoneh Esrei is divided into three parts: praises, requests, and thanksgiving. In reciting the first three berachot, we resemble slaves who offer words of praise before their master. While reciting the middle blessings we are similar to slaves who make … Continue reading

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11 – Personal Requests in the Amidah

Anshei Knesset HaGedolah, in their wisdom and Divine inspiration (ruach hakodesh), included all the ideal aspirations of Am Yisrael in the wording of the prayer. They meticulously chose every word until a perfect wording was established, with which the Jewish … Continue reading

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12 – The Conclusion of the Amidah

In reciting the verse, “Yih’yu l’ratzon…,” (“May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, Hashem, my Rock, and my Redeemer”), which is said after the blessing for shalom, we end the main … Continue reading

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13 – Three Steps Back

Once again, after finishing the Amidah, one must bow down until the vertebrae in his spine protrude, as if they “click.” While bowing down, he takes three steps backwards. Subsequently, still bowing, he turns to his left side and says, … Continue reading

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14 – How Long Must One Stand at a Distance

After taking three steps backwards, one must remain standing in that place. He may not immediately return to where he prayed the Amidah, for if he does, he resembles a dog that returns to its vomit (Yoma 53b). The reason … Continue reading

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15 – When Is It Permissible to Interrupt the Amidah?

A person who stands in prayer before his Creator is prohibited from talking about other matters in the middle of praying (see further in this book, chapter 18, note 1). It is even forbidden to interrupt by walking or hinting. … Continue reading

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16 – One Who Is Traveling When the Time to Pray Arrives

A person who is traveling in a car when the time to pray arrives, if he is driving, he is forbidden to recite the Amidah. This is because he cannot concentrate properly, and there is even concern that he may … Continue reading

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17 – One May Not Sit Within Four Amot of a Person Reciting the Amidah

Due to the considerable significance and sanctity of the Amidah prayer, the Chachamim prohibit sitting within four amot of a person who is praying. One reciting the Amidah is standing before the Shechinah, and anyone sitting there idly is seen … Continue reading

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18 – It Is Forbidden to Pass in Front of People Reciting the Amidah

It is forbidden to pass within four amot in front of a person reciting the Amidah, since one who passes in front of him is likely to disturb his concentration. There are those who say that the reason for the … Continue reading

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19 – The Practical Halachah

L’chatchilah, one should be strict, like the opinion of the Magen Avraham, not to walk within the entire four amot before a person reciting the Amidah. In times of need, however, one may be lenient like the Eliyah Rabbah and … Continue reading

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20 – One Who Finishes Reciting the Amidah

Regarding someone who finishes the Shemoneh Esrei while a person remains standing behind him in prayer, the law is as follows: if he is farther than four amot plus another three steps away from him, so that if he were … Continue reading

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21 – Additional Details of Certain Laws

As we have learned, l’chatchilah it is proper to be stringent like the opinion of the Magen Avraham, and refrain from taking three steps within the four amot in front of a person reciting the Amidah, even if the one … Continue reading

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