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    Making sense of the Amidah – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why does the beginning of the Amidah seem to jumble up so many ideas?

    A. The Amidah or Sh’moneh Esreh (“18 Blessings”) is the core prayer of every Jewish service.

    It begins by addressing God and does so in five ways:

    1. Our God – religious experience,

    2. God of our ancestors – history,

    3. Great, mighty, awesome, lofty, creator God – philosophy,

    4. Loving, supportive God – ethics,

    5. Redeeming God – destiny.

    The French philosopher-mathematician Blaise Pascal (according to others, the German thinker Hermann Cohen) is said to have coined the phrase, “Not the God of the Philosophers but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”.

    It is a useful distinction between the concept of God and the experience of God, but the Amidah overrides it by uniting the two major aspects – the God we know and the God we know about.

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