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Should the repetition of the amidah be discontinued?

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My understanding is that the repetition of the prayer popularly referred to as the Shmoneh Esrei was instituted to assist people who were illiterate and could not say the prayer themselves.

Since there is near universal literacy in many countries I would like to know if we still need the repetition of the amidah today and if not what is the process by which it can be removed?

Why should this post be closed?

2 comments

One minor point: the original problem was never that some people were illiterate, it was not knowing how to pray by heart, which is still applicable. Though arguably the question stands in a synagogue that provides everyone with a prayer book. user8078 29 days ago

Though today many synagogues are requiring BYOB - Bring your own book - due to COVID-19 concerns. Except for Shabbos, that often means Bring your phone win a Siddur App. manassehkatz 29 days ago

1 answer

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The Rav (Joseph B. Soloveitchik) understood the Rambam's discussion of the repetition to point to a separate mitzvah of the public prayer as said with the congregation, one that would be lost if the repetition were ended. Additionally, there are certain parts (like the priestly blessing and kedusha) which would not be said were it not for the repetition. Finally, the assumption that everyone is literate night be a rush to judgment. Not everyone is, not everyone is fluent and comfortable with the prayer text and not everyone can muster the necessary intent/kavannah to make the private prayer efficacious.

For more discussion, see here.

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