Project Genesis

Jewish History

Post-Biblical History

Repetition of the Amida

Why is the amidah repeated?

Due to the growing inability of many Jews to formulate their own prayers, and perhaps also due to the lessening primacy of the Hebrew language during the 2nd Temple era, the precise text of the amidah was formulated and institutionalized some 2300 years ago. Until then, aware of the basic structure of prayer and language, nearly everyone could create his own “amida” each day.

However, now that the text was set, and bearing in mind that there were no written prayer books, there would be some individuals who might not know the text (and its seasonal variations) by heart. For these people, the amida was repeated and, even today, it is theoretically possible that one who cannot read himself might be “carried” by answering “amen” to each blessing of the repetition. Nevertheless, everyone should make an effort to recite the amida on their own.

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