חננו דעה בינה והשכל, ברוך אתה ה’ שחננת לנו דע קודשך. Grace us with knowledge, understanding, and insight. Blessed are You, HASHEM, for You have graced us with the knowledge of Your holiness. חננו סליחה וכפרה על כל עונותינו ומרידתינו ושפלותינו, ברוך אתה ה’ שסלחת לעונותינו. Grace us with forgiveness and absolution for all . . .
As powerful a practice as a standing meditation may be, reciting the familiar words of the Amidah with intention can prove to be a major challenge. The words may become rote, and the davvener may wonder if the ancient formulas are even meaningful to them. In this adaptation of the Amidah, Oren Steinitz treats each B’rakhah as a prompt to remind ourselves what we are praying for and shares his own thoughts as an example. Rabbi Steinitz originally wrote the “Memory Amidah” in 2013, during the Davennen Leadership Training Institute cohort 7, and revised it for sharing here through the Open Siddur Project in 2016. . . .
This is a reconstruction of a sabbath liturgy for the Tefillah of the Amidah, at least in some variant of its public recitation, in Greek and preserved in an early Christian work, the Constitutiones Apostolorum (Apostolic Constitutions), a Christian work compiled around 380 CE in Syria. Several prayers derived from Jewish sources appear in the Apostolic Constitutions and they can be found grouped together and labeled “Greek” or “Hellenistic Syanagogal Works” in collections of apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. Because explicitly Christian references appeared to be added onto a pre-existing text with familiar Jewish or “Old Testament” themes and references, scholars in the late 19th century were already suggesting that as many as 16 of the prayers in the Apostolic Constitutions books 7 and 8 were derived from Jewish prayers. A more modern appraisal was made by Dr. Fiensy and published in Prayers Alleged to Be Jewish (Scholars Press 1985). Based on a careful analysis of the prayers, he concludes that the only prayers which can be identified as Jewish with certainty are those found in sections 33-38 of book 7. . . .
Have you read in the Talmud of old,
In the Legends the Rabbins have told
Of the limitless realms of the air,–
Have you read it,–the marvellous story
Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Glory,
Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer? . . .
Rain is important in every society, but particularly so in places like Eretz Yisrael, where rain only falls during a defined portion of the year. It is critical, then, that the “rainy season” in fact be rainy, since no rain can be expected for the remainder of the year. Accordingly, prayers, liturgies, and fast days relating to rain (or the lack thereof) played, and continue to play, a prominent role in Jewish tradition. Our tefillot today contain two major references to rain: “hazkarat geshamim” (better known as “mashiv haruaḥ umorid hagashem“) and “she’eilat geshamim“, found in the weekday Amidah in the 9th berakhah, “birkat hashanim“. There, an alternating liturgy was established: during the dry months, we say “v’tein berakhah“, whereas during the rainy season, we say “v’tein tal umatar livrakhah“, an explicit request for the rain to fall. Consensus emerged around the opinion of Rabban Gamliel in Mishnah Ta’anit 1:3 that “she’eilat geshamim” should begin on the 7th of Marḥeshvan (15 days after Shmini Atzeret, the 22nd of Tishrei). This would give pilgrims from as far away as the Euphrates (a 15-day journey) sufficient time to return home in dry weather. This is current practice in Eretz Yisrael to this day. . . .
This is Effron Esseiva’s morning Amidah (standing prayer) for weekdays. Effron writes, “It’s called Shmonei Esrei (18) because it used to have eighteen brakhot (blessings). However, it has an additional brakha to bring it to nineteen. This is my interpretation of the Teissa Esrei (19) with abridged kavvanot (intentions).” . . .
The Amidah’s choreography is designed to call to mind an appearance before a sovereign so as to invoke the proper “stance.” Consider, though, the variety of God-communications depicted just in the book of Genesis: God talks to Adam and Eve, to Cain, Noah, and Abimelech. God even talks to the serpent. God heeds Ishmael “where he is”,[foot] וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אֱלֹהִים֮ אֶת־ק֣וֹל הַנַּעַר֒ וַיִּקְרָא֩ מַלְאַ֨ךְ אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֶל־הָגָר֙ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וַיֹּ֥אמֶר לָ֖הּ מַה־לָּ֣ךְ הָגָ֑ר אַל־תִּ֣ירְאִ֔י כִּֽי־שָׁמַ֧ע אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶל־ק֥וֹל הַנַּ֖עַר בַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר הוּא־שָֽׁם׃ (בראשית כא:יז)[/foot] and Hagar names “YHVH who spoke to her..’God-who-sees-me’.”[foot]וַתִּקְרָ֤א שֵׁם־יְהוָה֙ הַדֹּבֵ֣ר אֵלֶ֔יהָ אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל רֳאִ֑י כִּ֣י אָֽמְרָ֗ה הֲגַ֥ם הֲלֹ֛ם רָאִ֖יתִי אַחֲרֵ֥י רֹאִֽי׃ (בראשית טז:יג)[/foot] So, in stepping up to greet God, it is sometimes fruitful to picture, instead of a royal audience, an opportunity to meet God in the cool of the garden,[foot]וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֞וּ אֶת־ק֨וֹל יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהִ֛ים מִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ בַּגָּ֖ן לְר֣וּחַ הַיּ֑וֹם וַיִּתְחַבֵּ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם וְאִשְׁתּ֗וֹ מִפְּנֵי֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים בְּת֖וֹךְ עֵ֥ץ הַגָּֽן׃ (בראשית ג:ח) [/foot] or to approach, at a desert spring, “God-who-sees-me.” . . .