Halacha for Wednesday 10 Iyar 5779 May 15 2019

Inserting Personal Requests in the Amida Prayer on a Constant Basis

Question: You have written in the Halacha Yomit that one may insert personal requests into the blessings of the Amida. Is this permitted even on a constant basis, i.e. adding personal requests in one’s Amida prayer every day?

Answer: Indeed, it is permissible to add personal requests into the middle blessings (blessings in between the first three and last three blessings of the Amida) of the Amida prayer based on the context of that specific blessing. Within the “Shema Kolenu” blessing, one may insert a request for anything one needs, as we have explained. Most Sephardic Siddurim nowadays have a text for Viduy (confessional prayer) and a prayer for one’s livelihood printed within the “Shema Kolenu” blessing. This idea is based on the words of our Sages who allowed personal prayers to be added within the Amida prayer.

The Turei Zahav writes (Chapter 122) that when our Sages permitted adding personal requests into the Amida, they only allowed doing this occasionally; however, one should not add personal requests on a daily basis, for this will seem like one is changing the standard prayer text that out Sages instituted since one is adopting a new text for himself with this new prayer.

Nevertheless, Maran Ha’Chida writes in his Birkei Yosef that the Turei Zahav’s opinion is halachically incorrect. The Kaf Ha’Chaim writes that even according to the Turei Zahav’s opinion, one may add the text of the Viduy and prayer for one’s livelihood into the “Shema Kolenu” blessing, for this text has already been mentioned by the holy Zohar and the Ari z”l and may therefore be added on a constant basis.

Indeed, the Yalkut Yosef (Tefillah, Volume 2, Chapter 119, Section 2) quotes the holy Zohar from which we can infer that every time one prays, one should confess one’s sins during the “Shema Kolenu” blessing. He proceeds to quote the Mekubalim who write that one should likewise pray for one’s livelihood during this blessing on a daily basis.

Thus, halachically speaking, regarding the texts of Viduy and prayer for one’s livelihood, one may rely on the words of the Poskim who allow this to be added even on a constant, daily basis. On the other hand, regarding other personal prayers, there is room for stringency and one should not add them on a constant basis; rather, one should change the wording of one’s personal prayers from time to time.

It is recounted that although Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l had many constant personal requests while praying, such as praying for the ill and the like, he would nevertheless change the wording of his prayers from time to time or not insert his personal requests for a while so that it would not seem like he was instituting a new standard text into his prayer, in accordance with the opinion of the Turei Zahav.

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