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The Amidah ("Standing Prayer"), also called the Shmona Esre ("The Eighteen Blessings"), is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. As Judaism's prayer par excellence, the Amidah is often designated simply as tefila ("prayer") in Rabbinic literature.

The weekday Amidah consists of 19 blessings, though it originally had 18; hence the name "Shemoneh Esrei". The first three blessings and the last three constitute the permanent stock, so to speak, by framing the Amidah of every service. The middle thirteen weekday blessings are replaced on Shabbat, New Moons (Rosh Chodesh), and Festivals by a blessing specific to the occasion.

The Amidah is said three times daily, in the morning, afternoon, and evening ("Evening and morning and at noon will I pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice" Psalm 55:17). These services are known respectively as Shacharit, Minchah, and Ma'ariv. One opinion in the Talmud claims, with support from Biblical verses (below), that the concept for each of the three services was founded respectively by each of the three biblical patriarchs:

  • Morning prayer (standing before the Lord with respect and intimacy): "And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord" (Genesis 19:27).

  • Afternoon prayer (speaking to the Lord as a friend): "And Isaac went out to meditate [su'ach, speak] in the field at the eventide" (Genesis 24:63).

  • Evening prayer (asking for a divine protection for the night): "And he came [paga, prayer, intercession] to a certain place, and stayed there for the night, because the sun was set" (Genesis 28:11).