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The Amidah (Hebrew: עמידה stance, "standing" prayer), also called the Shemoneh Esrei (שמנה עשרה literally "eighteen" - blessings), is the most important prayer of the synagogue, and as such is also referred to by observant Jews simply as HaTefillah: "The Prayer". Amidah is so called because it is recited while standing, facing the direction of Israel. (In the west, it is customary for the prayer to be said while facing the ark where the Torah scrolls are kept (the Aron Kodesh), which is usually placed in the east for this reason. In Israel, it is recited facing Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem, facing the Temple Mount.

It originally consisted of eighteen blessings, hence its name Shemoneh Esrei, but there are now nineteen blessings, an additional one being included since the second century. Composed in the fifth century BC by the 120 men of the Great Assembly, some scholars believe that the Lord's Prayer is a concise version of the Amidah. David Bivin[1] asserts that "Rabbi Eliezer, a younger contemporary of Jesus, taught this abbreviation of the Eighteen: "May your will be done in heaven above, grant peace of mind to those who fear you [on earth] below, and do what seems best to you. Blessed are you, O LORD, who answers prayer." Note the phrases "your will be done" and "in heaven above...[on earth] below" as in the Lord's Prayer. Also note the parallel between "grant peace of mind" in the prayer Eliezer taught and "deliver us from evil" in the prayer Jesus taught."


  1. Bivin, David The Amidah Prayer: A New Translation En-Gedi Resource Center Accessed July 2, 2007