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Structure of the Amidah

The weekday 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:

  1. Known as Avot (“Ancestors”) this prayer offers praise of God as the God of the Biblical patriarchs, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob.”

  2. 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 summer.

  3. 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 called Kedusha is chanted responsively. The Kedusha is further expanded on Shabbat and Festivals

  4. Known as Binah (“understanding”) this is a petition to God to grant wisdom and understanding.

  5. Known as Teshuvah (“return”, “repentance”) this prayer asks God to help Jews to return to a life based on the torah, and praises God as a God of repentance.

  6. Known as Selichah, this asks for forgiveness for all sins, and praises God as being a God of forgiveness.

  7. Known as Geulah (“redemption”) this praises God as a rescuer of the people Israel.

  8. Known as Refuah (“healing”) this is a prayer to heal the sick.

  9. Known as Birkat HaShanim (“blessing for years [of good]”), this prayer asks God to bless the produce of the earth.

  10. Known as Galuyot (“Diasporas”), this prayer asks God to allow the ingathering of the Jewish exiles back to the land of Israel.

  11. Known as Birkat HaDin (“Justice”) this asks God to restore righteous judges as in the days of old.

  12. Known as Birkat HaMinim (“the sectarians, heretics”) this asks God to destroy those in heretical sects (Minuth), who slander Jews and who act as informers against Jews.

  13. Known as Tzadikim (“righteous”) this asks God to have mercy on all who trust in Him, and asks for support for the righteous.

  14. Known as Bo’ne Yerushalayim (“Builder of Jerusalem”) asks God to rebuild Jerusalem and to restore the Kingdom of David.

  15. Known as Birkat David (“Blessing of David”) asks God to bring the descendant of King David, who will be the messiah.

  16. Known as Tefillah (“prayer”) this asks God to accept our prayers, to have mercy and be compassionate.

  17. Known as Avodah (“service”) this asks God to restore the Temple services and sacrificial services.

  18. 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”).

  19. 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 Maariv, calledShalom Rav.

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