The Amidah Prayer (part two)

Diving into the Amidah

In this resource, we will focus on three of the blessings found in the Amidah prayer: one that is national in nature (the blessing for Jerusalem) and two that are personal in nature (the blessing for healing and “hear our voice”). We will explore the significance of each of these blessings in the life of a Jew –  as a human and as a Jew,  as an individual and as a member of a community.

Resource Ages: 12-14


Blessing of Healing

Heal us, Adonai, and we will be healed. Save us and we will be saved, for You are our glory. And bring a cure and healing for all of our ailments, and all our pains, and all our wounds for, Adonai, You are a compassionate and faithful healer. Blessed are You Adonai, Who heals God’s people, Israel. 


Blessing for Jerusalem

Have mercy and return to Jerusalem Your city, May Your presence dwell there as You have promised. Build it now in our day and for all time. Re-establish there the majesty of David, Your servant. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who builds Jerusalem. 


Blessing of “Hear our Voice”

Hear our voice Adonai our God, have pity and mercy upon us, and accept with mercy and favor our prayers, for You are God, Who hears prayers and supplications. And from before You, our Sovereign, do not turn us away unanswered for You hear the prayer of each of Your People’s mouth with mercy.  Blessed are You, Adonai, Who listens to prayer.

Foundations for Planning

Essential Questions

  • How do Jewish practices reflect Jewish values?
  • How does the idea that Jews everywhere celebrate the same holidays and pray the same prayers connect me to the Jewish community?
  • How is prayer a vehicle to help us access connections to God?

Content Questions Related to the Essential Questions

  • How does this prayer connect us with other Jewish communities?
  • To what extent can prayer influence reality?
  • How can this prayer serve as a tool for expressing different feelings?
  • Can this prayer be meaningful even for someone who doesn’t believe in God?
  • What has Jerusalem symbolized for the Jewish people throughout the generations?
  • Why is it important to pray for others?
  • How can my personal prayer be combined with the traditional prayers?

Background for Teacher

This resource focuses on three blessings of request from the Amidah prayer: The blessing for healing is the eighth blessing in the Amidah prayer and it is a personal blessing. The Sages based this blessing on the following verse from Jeremiah (17:14):  רְפָאֵנִי ה’...

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This resource focuses on three blessings of request from the Amidah prayer:

The blessing for healing is the eighth blessing in the Amidah prayer and it is a personal blessing. The Sages based this blessing on the following verse from Jeremiah (17:14):

 רְפָאֵנִי ה’ וְאֵרָפֵא הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי וְאִוָּשֵׁעָה כִּי תְהִלָּתִי אָתָּה.

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved for You are my glory.

To match the style of the rest of the Amidah prayer, they changed the language to the plural. As we say this blessing, we can pray for a particular sick person by adding the verse: 

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱ-לֹהַי וֵא-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתַי, שֶׁתִּשְׁלַח מְהֵרָה רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם, רְפוּאַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ וּרְפוּאַת הַגּוּף לְחוֹלה (פְּלוֹנִי/ת בֶּן/בַּת פְּלוֹנִית) בְּתוֹךְ שְׁאָר חוֹלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

May it be Your will Adonai, my God and God of my ancestors, that you will quickly send a complete healing from heaven, a healing of the spirit and a healing of the body, to the sick person [their name] son/daughter of [their mother’s name] and all of the other sick people among the Jewish people.

The blessing for Jerusalem is the 14th blessing in the Amidah prayer. It is a national request regarding Jerusalem, in which we ask God to raise it out of its destruction and prepare it for the reign of the Davidic dynasty (the messianic era). The blessing for Jerusalem presents that city as a symbol of the longing of many generations. We can connect with this blessing even today, when Jerusalem has been rebuilt, as a symbol of our longings for a better world and optimism about the future. 

The Hear our Voice blessing is the 16th blessing in the Amidah prayer and it is a personal blessing. In it, we ask God to hear and accept our prayers. In this blessing, many people add a personal prayer in their own words in which they mention personal or public matters that are not explicitly mentioned in the prayer book. The language “Who hears the prayer of each mouth” indicates that, in this prayer, we ask that God hear and accept the prayers offered by everyone, no matter who they are, even when some of those prayers might conflict with one another.

Optional Hooks
In-Depth Discussion
Suggested Activities
Further Study

Divide the students into groups. Have each group study one of the three blessings. Then, ask the students to present the blessing they studied to the rest of the class in a creative manner.

Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.

The Blessing for Healing

  1. Like all of the other blessings of the Amidah, the blessing for healing is formulated in the plural. Since everyone has their own health problems, why don’t we use singular language for this blessing?
  2. In this blessing, we can pray for the recovery of a particular sick person. To do so, there is a set formulation that includes the person’s name, in which we ask that they be healed along with “all of the other sick people among the Jewish people.” If we are already praying for everyone who is sick, why would we mention an individual (who is already included in that group)? Why do you think that we link the request regarding one particular person with all  others who are ill?
    If you were praying for someone who was ill, with no connection to this blessing, how would you prefer to pray for that person: on their own or as part of a larger group of people in need of healing? Why?


Hear our Voice

  1. It is customary for people to add a personal prayer after this blessing. Why was it important to set a particular place in the prayer for this purpose? What can we learn from this?
  2. Why do you think that we need a prayer in which we ask that our prayers be heard? If a prayer is not answered, do you think that means that it was not heard? Explain. What value can there be in prayer, aside from its being directly answered?
  3. Discuss the following dilemma: One person prays that the bus should travel quickly, because they are late for a meeting. A second person prays for the bus to be delayed, so that they will be able to catch it. Does either prayer have priority over the other? Is it possible for all of the prayers in the world to be fulfilled, even if they conflict with one another? If so, how? What can we learn from this with regard to our hope and expectation that our prayers and requests will be answered?


The Blessing for Jerusalem

  1. While reciting the Amidah prayer, everyone — no matter where they are in the world — faces toward Jerusalem. What idea does this custom express? How might this awareness affect those who are praying?
  2. This blessing expresses the desire throughout the generations to return to Jerusalem. Is this desire present in your own life?
  3. What is the significance of this blessing today, when Jerusalem has been rebuilt and serves as the capital of the state of Israel?


  1. What do these prayers mean to you? What values do they express?
  2. Are these prayers related to your life? If so, how? What might help you to connect with these blessings?
  3.  What value could these blessings have for someone who does not believe in God?
  • The prayer for Jerusalem expresses the idea that Jerusalem can connect Jews from around the world with one another. This idea is expressed in the practice of facing toward Jerusalem as we recite the Amidah prayer. You can make a list of Jewish communities around the world and ask the students which direction people in each community face when they pray. (You can help them out with a map or a globe.)
  • In light of the custom of facing toward Jerusalem while reciting the Amidah prayer, inside many synagogues and even private homes, we can find a mizrach [east] sign, indicating the direction in which many Jews prayed when they lived in Eastern Europe, where the custom first developed. You can work together to make a mizrach sign and decorate it in a manner that expresses the ideas behind this custom: the connection between Jews throughout the world, the importance of Jerusalem as the heart of the nation, etc. You could even make mizrach signs for each classroom in your school.
    For inspiration, you can present classical styles of mizrach signs that were hung in European synagogues, like this paper-cutting or this illustration. You can discuss the motifs that appear in each example and their presentation (for example, the city of Jerusalem, the Temple and its vessels, lions of Judah, kohanim (priests) etc.).
  • Make a list of sick people who the students know and decorate the list with wishes for their recovery. You can designate a corner of the room for praying for those who are sick, a place to stand alone and focus on prayer when one wants to do so.
  • We take a broader look at the Amidah prayer in the resource: The Amidah Prayer –  part one.
  • You can study the Talmudic source for the custom of facing toward Jerusalem while reciting the Amidah prayer:

One who is outside the land of Israel should direct their heart toward the land of Israel […]
One who is in the land of Israel should direct their heart toward Jerusalem […]
One who is in Jerusalem should direct their heart toward the Temple […]
All [the people of] Israel direct their hearts toward one place.

Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Brachot 30a