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Reuniting with Friends
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The Talmud teaches that one who has not seen a good friend in over a month should recite a special blessing – the shehecheyanu blessing- upon seeing them again.[1] A “friend” in this context refers to a person with whom one is exceptionally close, and whose presence brings one great happiness.[2] In the event that […]
Hagomel
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The “hagomel” blessing is the modern day equivalent to the thanksgiving sacrifice which was offered in the Beit Hamikdash as a token of appreciation for having survived a difficult ordeal. The specific circumstances which required this special offering are derived from Tehillim[1] and they are: one who traveled the sea, one who traveled the desert, […]
Amen
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One who hears another person recite a blessing is required to respond “amen” to the blessing.[1] In fact, in addition to there being a scriptural source for the requirement to answer “amen” to the blessings recited by others, it is also a practice which was specifically decreed by Moshe Rabbeinu, as well.[2] It is taught […]
Birkat Hamazon: Preliminary Tehillim
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It is customary recite a preliminary chapter of Tehillim before reciting the birkat hamazon after meals. On weekdays, the general custom is to recite chapter 137, “al naharot bavel”, which is intended to remind us of the destruction of Jerusalem and the current exile.[1] The Zohar states that one who derives pleasure from bread and […]
Ma’ariv: Baruch Hashem L’olam Amen V’amen
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Among the liturgical differences between the communities of Israel and the Diaspora is the widespread custom in the Diaspora to recite an additional section of scriptural verses prior to the shemoneh esrei of ma’ariv on weekday nights. This section is referred to as “Baruch Hashem L’olam Amen V’amen” after its first few words. This section […]
The Conclusion of Shemoneh Esrei
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Following the blessing of “sim shalom” at the conclusion of every shemoneh esrei, there is a supplementary paragraph which contains a number of inspirational readings. This paragraph, beginning with the words “Elohai Netzor”, is actually adapted from the personal prayers of the Talmudic sage, Mar son of Ravina.[1] It is said that the fundamentals of […]
Heicha Kedusha
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The standard structure of the shacharit and mincha service is for the congregation to first recite the shemoneh esrei quietly, followed by the chazzan who then repeats it out loud. There are two reasons why the sages instituted a public repetition of the shemoneh esrei.[1] It seems that the primary purpose for this enactment was […]
Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto L’olam Va’ed
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It was the great sages of Israel who established the many blessings which we have in our liturgy today. Each of these blessings is recited on the very specific occasion for which it was intended. The most common these blessings are the blessings over food and drink which are recited many times each and every […]
Hashem Elokeichem Emet / El Melech Ne’eman
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The shema is comprised of 245 words. There is a tradition which strongly encourages one to ensure that the words of the shema total 248, the number of limbs in a person’s body.[1] In order to accomplish this, the one leading the services repeats the last three words of shema, “Hashem Elokeichem Emet”, thereby bringing […]
Brich Hu or Amen?
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There are a number of different customs as to how one should respond to the “brich hu” in the kaddish. According to some customs, the proper response is “brich hu”, while others respond “amen.”[1] Others have the custom to respond “brich hu l’eila min kol…” and actually recite the entire remaining section as part of […]