Shorter form of the Amidah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 16, 2013

There is a short version of the weekday Amidah, which can be said when one is very pushed for time.
The practice stems from a disagreement in Mishnah Berachot: “Rabban Gamliel says, a person should pray the Shemoneh Esrei every day. Rabbi Yehoshua says, the prayer should be similar to the Shemoneh Esrei [ie, the shorter version]. Rabbi Akiva says, if the prayer is familiar to him, he should pray the full Shemoneh Esrei but if not, then he should pray a shorter version” (4:3).

In the Talmud, Shmuel explains that the prayer similar to the Shemoneh Esrei is called Havineinu, which consists of the first three and last three blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei with another blessing in the middle, which is made up of a compilation of phrases from each of the middle thirteen blessings (Berachot 29a). Havineinu is the first word of this middle, edited-highlights blessing.

The Rama (16th century) discouraged  Havineinu on the basis that if people got into the habit of saying it, they would never say the full Amidah. Today, Israeli soldiers (but almost no one else) are taught to say the prayer when short of time.

    Last updated: 2:45pm, June 16 2013