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Shemoneh Esrei #8 – Refuah (Healing)
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Just as the seventh blessing paraphrases King David’s words, the eighth bracha recalls the words of the prophet Jeremiah. In the book that bears his name, Jeremiah said, “Heal me, Hashem, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved because You are my praise” (17:14). This verse is incorporated in its […]
Shemoneh Esrei #7 – Geulah (Redemption)
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In the seventh blessing, we ask God to see how we are afflicted, take up our case, and speedily redeem us. We have no power ourselves; we rely upon Him for salvation. The opening words, r’ei b’anyeinu (“behold our suffering” or “observe our affliction”) are a paraphrase of words used by King David. He first […]
Shemoneh Esrei #6 – Selicha (Forgiveness)
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In the fifth blessing, we asked God to help us in doing teshuvah, turning away from our bad habits and mending our ways. As a consequence of that, we ask Him in the sixth bracha to forgive us for our transgressions and lapses in judgment. This prayer contains an element of vidui (confession) in that […]
Shemoneh Esrei #5 – Teshuvah (Repentance)
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In the fifth blessing, we ask God to assist us in returning to His service as all of us have strayed to one degree or another from our responsibilities. (The word teshuvah, commonly translated as repentance, more literally means a return.) We ask God to draw us near to Him but whether or not we […]
Shemoneh Esrei #4 – Binah (Understanding)
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There are several different mental faculties in a person: wisdom, knowledge, insight, etc. In this blessing, we praise God for the gift of wisdom, then we ask Him for the ability to evaluate things and come to appropriate conclusions. The Talmud in Brachos (33a) tells us that we can see how important understanding is from […]
Shemoneh Esrei #3 – Kedushos (Holiness)
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The focus of the third blessing is God’s holiness. We know that the Torah is holy, Israel is holy and God is holy, but what exactly is “holiness?” Kadosh, translated as “holy,” more specifically means that something is special and set apart from the herd. This specialness approaches uniqueness but God, Who is One of […]
Shemoneh Esrei #2 – Gevuros (Might)
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The theme of the second blessing is God’s might or power, which He expresses through reviving or resuscitating people and things. Other kings – indeed, any person – has the ability to kill. Only God has the ability to restore. In this blessing, we acknowledge that God supports those who are falling, frees those who […]
Shemoneh Esrei #1 – Avos (Fathers)
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The Shemoneh Esrei was first composed by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah (Men of the Great Assembly), whose ranks included such august personalities as Ezra, Chagai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Some 400 years later, the order of the blessings – which had been recited orally since their initial composition – was standardized by Shimon HaPakuli in the […]