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Shemoneh Esrei 10: Redemption – In Whose Merit?
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וזוכר חסדי אבות, ומביא גואל לבני בניהם, למען שמו, באהבה Who recalls the kindnesses of the Patriarchs, and brings a Redeemer to their children’s children, for His Name’s sake, with love. We present two approaches to this segment: 1.   The first comes from the wonderful siddur companion, “Avodas HaTefilah” by Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, based on […]
Shemoneh Esrei 9: Good vs. Pure Good
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גומל חסדים טובים וקונה הכל Who bestows beneficial kindnesses and creates everything Hashem is constantly bestowing pure good upon us.  Pure good can be understood in multiple ways: It can be understood as the type of good that will never result in any bad [Beis Tefilah, S’fas Emes].  A human being can bestow good upon […]
Shemoneh Esrei 8: Nothing to Fear, Except…
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והנורא, א-ל עליון… …and awesome G-d, the supreme G-d The letter hei in the words “הא-ל, הגדול, הגבור, והנורא” indicate that all power, greatness, might, and awesomeness are His.  With respect to והנורא, this means that there is nothing in this world to fear other than Hashem.  No other creation can really do good or […]
Shemoneh Esrei 7: Who Is Truly Mighty?
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הא-ל הגדול הגבור The G-d, Great, Mighty… הא-ל  – HaKeil represents Hashem’s midas ha’rachamim (attribute of mercy).  It also means power or strength.  Hashem, in His strength, humbles the midas ha’din (attribute of judgment) and performs chesed. הגדול  – HaGadol represents the midas ha’chesed.  It also refers to Hashem’s greatness, which is made known through […]
Shemoneh Esrei 6: Emulating Our Avos
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א-לקינו וא-לקי אבותינו, א-לקי אברהם, א-לקי יצחק, וא-לקי יעקב…ב Our G-d and the G-d of our Forefathers, G-d of Avraham, G-d of Yitzchak, and G-d of Yaakov… When we say the word “Elokeinu” we should have in mind: “Our (Hashgachah Pratis – Divine Providence) G-d, Who is Powerful, All Capable, and the power behind all […]
Shemoneh Esrei 5: Which Three Words Do You Say Most Often?
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Over the course of your lifetime and even daily, which three words do you say most often?  Men are obligated to recite at least 100 brachos daily (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, siman 46:3).  Whether women share this obligation is subject to dispute.  Even if they are not obligated, women also certainly recite many brachos daily.  […]
Shemoneh Esrei 4: Does Hashem Need Our Praise?
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The Shemoneh Esrei is divided into three sections.  In the first three brachos, we praise Hashem.  In the middle brachos, we make our requests; and in the last three, we thank Hashem. Clearly, Hashem does not need our praises, and the purpose of praising Hashem is not to “butter Him up” so that we can […]
Shemoneh Esrei 3: Practical Tips for Maintaining Focus
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Practical Tips for Maintaining Focus The Sifsei Chaim1 quotes Rambam who states that maintaining focus during the entire Shemoneh Esrei is a realistic long-term goal and it is within our reach.  He tells us that this can take many years and we should not give up hope and settle for less.  Each person is different […]
Shemoneh Esrei 2
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ה’ שפתי תפתח ופי יגיד תהלתיך – My Master, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. We are in the middle of our tefilah and have been moving our lips for quite a while before reaching this point.  Why do we need to make this request of Hashem before we begin our […]
Shemoneh Esrei 1
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Introduction Shemoneh Esrei is the core of our tefilah and therefore requires the highest level of kavanah.  The Meiri writes1 that one cannot compare the kavanah required even for Shema with the kavanah required for Shemoneh Esrei.  “With every word [of Shemoneh Esrei] one will find inspiration to fear and love Hashem…and to increase one’s […]