The Amidah (Hebrew: תפילת העמידה, Tefilat HaAmidah, “The Standing Prayer”), also called the Shemoneh Esreh ( שמנה עשרה), is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book.
The Amidah prayer is the place for this receiving, for the meeting of our human yearnings and God’s life-giving waters. The Amidah is the centerpiece of Jewish prayer, traditionally recited silently, three times a day, while standing still.
The stance of this prayer is rooted in the Bible, which records that the patriarch Abraham “got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood.” (Genesis 19:27) Standing contrasts with moving, and the word amad (“stood”) can also be translated as being still. This reading teaches us that the first dimension of prayer is to become still.
As the mind can continue racing even when the body has become still, it is helpful to bring attention to the stillness of the body, to the release of the outbreath, to the simple contact between the feet and the ground and let the mind begin to align with presence. From a place of presence there can be intentionality. We can open to the deeper currents of our soul and the seed potentials that await our activation.
The central part of the weekday Amidah consists of 13 blessings, each of which has a particular quality:
- Honen Hada’at (Who favors us with knowledge): Open, simple presence of awareness
- Harotzeh Bit’shuvah (Who longs for repentance): Longing for closeness and alignment with core purpose
- Hamarbeh Lis’loach (Who is ever willing to forgive): Love and belovedness of forgiveness and grace
- Goel Yisrael (Redeemer of Israel): Power and discernment
- Rofeh Holeh Amo Yisrael (Who heals His people Israel): Healing and release
- M’varech Hashanim (Who blesses the years): Abundance of blessing
- M’kabetz Nidchei Amo Yisrael (Who gathers together the dispersed of His people Israel): Gratitude and joy of togetherness and integration
- Ohev Tzedakah Umishpat (Who loves righteousness and judgment): Passion of care and connectedness
- Shover Oyvim Umachniyah Zaidim (Who breaks enemies and humbles the arrogant): Wonder and inclusivity of transcending separateness
- Mish’an Umivtach Latzadikim (Who supports and trusts the righteous): Compassion and solidity of deep rootedness
- Boneh Yerushalayim (Who builds Jerusalem): Mutuality, love, and openness of fraternity
- Matzmiach Keren Yeshua (Who flourishes the glory of salvation): Strength and salvation of inspired vision
- Shomea T’fillah (Who hears prayer): Freedom and fulfillment of living in the flow of life