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from Yiddish דאַוון daven ‘pray’) are the prayer recitations and Jewish meditation traditions that form part of the observance of Rabbinic Judaism.These prayers, often with instructions and commentary, are found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book.According to the Talmud Bavli (tractate Taanit 2a), tefillah ("prayer") is a Biblical command: "'You shall serve God with your whole heart.' (Deuteronomy ) What service is performed with the heart?This is tefillah." Prayer is therefore referred to as Avodah sheba-Lev ("service that is in the heart").Despite this, the tradition of most Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogues is to use Hebrew (usually Ashkenazi Hebrew) for all except a small number of prayers, including the Aramaic Kaddish ("holy"), which formerly had been in Hebrew, and sermons and instructions, for which the local language is used.
Halachically, Jews can switch from one nusach tefillah to an other (and back) at any time, even on a daily basis, and are not bound to follow the nusach of their forefathers.
A set of eighteen (currently nineteen) blessings called the Shemoneh Esreh or the Amidah (Hebrew, "standing [prayer]"), is traditionally ascribed to the Great Assembly in the time of Ezra, at the end of the Biblical period.
The name Shemoneh Esreh, literally "eighteen", is an historical anachronism, since it now contains nineteen blessings.
The origins of modern Jewish prayer were established during the period of the Tannaim, "from their traditions, later committed to writing, we learn that the generation of rabbis active at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE) gave Jewish prayer its structure and, in outline form at least, its contents." This liturgy included the twice-daily recitation of the Shema, the Amidah, or Shmoneh Esrei, including 18 blessings recited several times daily, and the public recitation of the Torah in installments.
The oldest prayer books date from the time of the Geonim of Babylonia; "some were composed by respected rabbinic scholars at the request of far-flung communities seeking an authoritative text of the required prayers for daily use, Shabbat, and holidays." The language of the prayers, while clearly being from the Second Temple period, often employs Biblical idiom, and according to some authorities it should not contain rabbinic or Mishnaic idiom apart from in the sections of Mishnah that are featured (see Baer).
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Maimonides (1135–1204 CE) relates that until the Babylonian exile (586 BCE), all Jews had composed their own prayers, but thereafter the sages of the Great Assembly in the early Second Temple period composed the main portions of the siddur.