Mishneh Torah, Prayer and the Priestly Blessing
Chapter 1א׳
1 א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כג כה) ״וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֵת ה׳‎ אֱלֹהֵיכֶם״. מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁעֲבוֹדָה זוֹ הִיא תְּפִלָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יא יג) ״וּלְעָבְדוֹ בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם״ אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֵי זוֹ הִיא עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב זוֹ תְּפִלָּה. וְאֵין מִנְיַן הַתְּפִלּוֹת מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וְאֵין מִשְׁנֶה הַתְּפִלָּה הַזֹּאת מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וְאֵין לַתְּפִלָּה זְמַן קָבוּעַ מִן הַתּוֹרָה:

To pray daily is an affirmative duty, as it is said, "And ye shall serve the Lord, your God" (Exodus 23:25). The service, here referred to, according to the teaching of tradition, is Prayer, as it is said, "And to serve Him with all your heart" (Deuteronomy 11:13), on which the sages commented, "What may be described as Service of the Heart? Prayer". The number of prayers is not prescribed in the Torah. No form of prayer is prescribed in the Torah. Nor does the Torah prescribe a fixed time for Prayer.

2 ב

וּלְפִיכָךְ נָשִׁים וַעֲבָדִים חַיָּבִין בִּתְפִלָּה לְפִי שֶׁהִיא מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁלֹּא הַזְּמַן גְּרָמָא אֶלָּא חִיּוּב מִצְוָה זוֹ כָּךְ הוּא שֶׁיְּהֵא אָדָם מִתְחַנֵּן וּמִתְפַּלֵּל בְּכָל יוֹם וּמַגִּיד שִׁבְחוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְאַחַר כָּךְ שׁוֹאֵל צְרָכָיו שֶׁהוּא צָרִיךְ לָהֶם בְּבַקָּשָׁה וּבִתְחִנָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹתֵן שֶׁבַח וְהוֹדָיָה לַה׳‎ עַל הַטּוֹבָה שֶׁהִשְׁפִּיעַ לוֹ כָּל אֶחָד לְפִי כֹּחוֹ:

Hence, women and slaves are under an obligation to pray, this being a duty, the fulfillment of which is independent of set periods. The obligation in this precept is that every person should daily, according to his ability, offer up supplication and prayer; first uttering praises of God, then, with humble supplication and petition ask for all that he needs, and finally offer praise and thanksgiving to the Eternal for the benefits already bestowed upon him in rich measure.

3 ג

אִם הָיָה רָגִיל מַרְבֶּה בִּתְחִנָּה וּבַקָּשָׁה וְאִם הָיָה עֲרַל שְׂפָתַיִם מְדַבֵּר כְּפִי יְכָלְתּוֹ וּבְכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. וְכֵן מִנְיַן הַתְּפִלּוֹת כָּל אֶחָד כְּפִי יְכָלְתּוֹ. יֵשׁ מִתְפַּלֵּל פַּעַם אַחַת בְּיוֹם. וְיֵשׁ מִתְפַּלְּלִין פְּעָמִים הַרְבֵּה. וְהַכּל יִהְיוּ מִתְפַּלְּלִין נֹכַח הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁיִּהְיֶה. וְכֵן הָיָה הַדָּבָר תָּמִיד מִמּשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וְעַד עֶזְרָא:

One who was fluent, would offer up many prayers and supplications. If one was slow of speech, he would pray as he could and whenever he pleased. Thus also, the number of separate services depended on an individual's ability. One would pray once daily; others, several times in the day. All, however, turned during prayer to the Sanctuary, in whichever direction that might be. This was the uniform practice from the times of Moses to those of Ezra.

4 ד

כֵּיוָן שֶׁגָּלוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּימֵי נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר הָרָשָׁע נִתְעָרְבוּ בְּפָרַס וְיָוָן וּשְׁאָר הָאֻמּוֹת וְנוֹלְדוּ לָהֶם בָּנִים בְּאַרְצוֹת הַגּוֹיִם וְאוֹתָן הַבָּנִים נִתְבַּלְבְּלוּ שְׂפָתָם וְהָיְתָה שְׂפַת כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מְעֹרֶבֶת מִלְּשׁוֹנוֹת הַרְבֵּה וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהָיָה מְדַבֵּר אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְדַבֵּר כָּל צָרְכּוֹ בְּלָשׁוֹן אַחַת אֶלָּא בְּשִׁבּוּשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (נחמיה יג כד) ״וּבְנֵיהֶם חֲצִי מְדַבֵּר אַשְׁדּוֹדִית״ וְגוֹ׳‎ (נחמיה יג כד) ״וְאֵינָם מַכִּירִים לְדַבֵּר יְהוּדִית וְכִלְשׁוֹן עַם וְעַם״. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה כְּשֶׁהָיָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן מִתְפַּלֵּל תִּקְצַר לְשׁוֹנוֹ לִשְׁאל חֲפָצָיו אוֹ לְהַגִּיד שֶׁבַח הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ עַד שֶׁיֵּעָרְבוּ עִמָּהּ לְשׁוֹנוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁרָאָה עֶזְרָא וּבֵית דִּינוֹ כָּךְ עָמְדוּ וְתִקְּנוּ לָהֶם שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה בְּרָכוֹת עַל הַסֵּדֶר. שָׁלֹשׁ רִאשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁבַח לַה׳‎ וְשָׁלֹשׁ אַחֲרוֹנוֹת הוֹדָיָה. וְאֶמְצָעִיּוֹת יֵשׁ בָּהֶן שְׁאֵלַת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵן כְּמוֹ אָבוֹת לְכָל חֶפְצֵי אִישׁ וָאִישׁ וּלְצָרְכֵי הַצִּבּוּר כֻּלָּן, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עֲרוּכוֹת בְּפִי הַכּל וְיִלְמְדוּ אוֹתָן וְתִהְיֶה תְּפִלַּת אֵלּוּ הָעִלְּגִים תְּפִלָּה שְׁלֵמָה כִּתְפִלַּת בַּעֲלֵי הַלָּשׁוֹן הַצֶּחָה. וּמִפְּנֵי עִנְיָן זֶה תִּקְּנוּ כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת וְהַתְּפִלּוֹת מְסֻדָּרוֹת בְּפִי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא עִנְיַן כָּל בְּרָכָה עָרוּךְ בְּפִי הָעִלֵּג:

When the people of Israel went into exile in the days of the wicked Nebucednezzar, they mingled with the Persians, Greeks and other nations. In those foreign countries, children were born to them, whose language was confused. Everyone's speech was a mixture of many tongues. No one was able, when he spoke, to express his thoughts adequately in any one language, otherwise than incoherently, as it is said, "And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod and they could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people" (Nehemiah 13:24). Consequently, when anyone of them prayed in Hebrew, he was unable adequately to express his needs or recount the praises of God, without mixing Hebrew with other languages. When Ezra and his Council realized this condition, they ordained the Eighteen Benedictions in their present order. The first three blessings consist of praises of God and the last three, of thanksgiving to Him. The intermediate benedictions are petitions for the things which may stand as categories of all the desires of the individual and the needs of the community. The object aimed at was that these prayers should be in an orderly form in everyone's mouth, that all should learn them, and thus the prayer of those who were not expert in speech would be as perfect as that of those who had command of a chaste style. For the same reason, they arranged [in a fixed form] all the blessings and prayers for all Jews so that the substance of every blessing should be familiar and current in the mouth of one who is not expert in speech.

5 ה

וְכֵן תִּקְּנוּ שֶׁיְּהֵא מִנְיַן הַתְּפִלּוֹת כְּמִנְיַן הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת. שְׁתֵּי תְּפִלּוֹת בְּכָל יוֹם כְּנֶגֶד שְׁנֵי תְּמִידִין. וְכָל יוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ קָרְבַּן מוּסָף תִּקְּנוּ בּוֹ תְּפִלָּה שְׁלִישִׁית כְּנֶגֶד קָרְבַּן מוּסָף. וּתְפִלָּה שֶׁהִיא כְּנֶגֶד תָּמִיד שֶׁל בֹּקֶר הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת תְּפִלַּת הַשַּׁחַר. וּתְפִלָּה שֶׁכְּנֶגֶד תָּמִיד שֶׁל בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת תְּפִלַּת מִנְחָה וּתְפִלָּה שֶׁכְּנֶגֶד הַמּוּסָפִין הִיא נִקְרֵאת תְּפִלַּת הַמּוּסָפִין:

Thus, too, they ordained that the Services of Prayer should be equal in number to the Sacrifices—two services of prayer daily, corresponding to the two daily offerings. And for the day on which an additional offering was ordained, they instituted a third prayer, corresponding to the additional offering. The Service which corresponds to the daily morning sacrifice is called the Morning Prayer. The Service which corresponds to the Afternoon Sacrifice is called the Afternoon Prayer, and the Service corresponding to the Additional offering is called the Additional Prayer.

6 ו

וְכֵן הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁיְּהֵא אָדָם מִתְפַּלֵּל תְּפִלָּה אַחַת בַּלַּיְלָה שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵיבְרֵי תָּמִיד שֶׁל בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם מִתְעַכְּלִין וְהוֹלְכִין כָּל הַלַּיְלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ו ב) ״הִיא הָעֹלָה״ וְגוֹ׳‎, כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים נה יח) ״עֶרֶב וָבֹקֶר וְצָהֳרַיִם אָשִׂיחָה וְאֶהֱמֶה וַיִּשְׁמַע קוֹלִי״. וְאֵין תְּפִלַּת עַרְבִית חוֹבָה כִּתְפִלַּת שַׁחֲרִית וּמִנְחָה. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן נָהֲגוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל מְקוֹמוֹת מוֹשְׁבוֹתֵיהֶם לְהִתְפַּלֵּל עַרְבִית וְקִבְּלוּהָ עֲלֵיהֶם כִּתְפִלַּת חוֹבָה:

So also they ordained that a person should recite one service of Prayer at night, since the portions of the animal offered up as the Afternoon Sacrifice were consumed on the altar throughout the night, as it is said, "This is the law of the burnt offering; this it is that which goeth up on its firewood upon the altar all night" (Leviticus 6:2). And in this sense it is said, "Evening and morning and at noon will I meditate and cry aloud, and He hath heard my voice" (Psalms 55:18). The Evening Service is not obligatory like the Morning and Afternoon Services. Nevertheless all Israelites, wherever they have settled, have adopted the practice of reciting the Evening Service and have accepted it as obligatory.

7 ז

וְכֵן תִּקְּנוּ תְּפִלָּה אַחַר תְּפִלַּת מִנְחָה סָמוּךְ לִשְׁקִיעַת הַחַמָּה בְּיוֹם הַתַּעֲנִית בִּלְבַד כְּדֵי לְהוֹסִיף תְּחִנָּה וּבַקָּשָׁה מִפְּנֵי הַתַּעֲנִית וְזוֹ הִיא הַתְּפִלָּה הַנִּקְרֵאת תְּפִלַּת נְעִילָה כְּלוֹמַר נִנְעֲלוּ שַׁעֲרֵי שָׁמַיִם בְּעַד הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְנִסְתְּרָה, לְפִי שֶׁאֵין מִתְפַּלְּלִין אוֹתָהּ אֶלָּא סָמוּךְ לִשְׁקִיעַת הַחַמָּה:

So, too, they instituted a service to be recited after the afternoon service, close to sunset, but only on a fast day, the purpose being to add petitions and supplication on account of the fast. This Service is called "the Closing" [service]—an allusion to the fact that the sky is closed to the sun which is at that hour of the day invisible—this service being recited near sunset.

8 ח

נִמְצְאוּ הַתְּפִלּוֹת בְּכָל יוֹם שָׁלֹשׁ. עַרְבִית וְשַׁחֲרִית וּמִנְחָה. וּבַשַּׁבָּתוֹת וּבְמוֹעֲדִים וּבְרָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים אַרְבַּע. שָׁלֹשׁ שֶׁל כָּל יוֹם וּתְפִלַּת הַמּוּסָפִין. וּבְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים חָמֵשׁ. אַרְבַּע אֵלּוּ וּתְפִלַּת נְעִילָה:

Thus the Services recited daily are three; namely, the Evening Service, the Morning Service and the Afternoon Service. On Sabbaths, Festivals and New Moons, they are four—the three daily services and the Additional Service. On the Day of Atonement, they are five services, the four just mentioned and the Neilah, the closing service.

9 ט

תְּפִלּוֹת אֵלּוּ אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין מֵהֶן אֲבָל מוֹסִיפִין עֲלֵיהֶם. אִם רָצָה אָדָם לְהִתְפַּלֵּל כָּל הַיּוֹם כֻּלּוֹ הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ. וְכָל אוֹתָן הַתְּפִלּוֹת שֶׁיּוֹסִיף כְּמוֹ מַקְרִיב נְדָבוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ שֶׁיְּחַדֵּשׁ דָּבָר בְּכָל בְּרָכָה וּבְרָכָה מִן הָאֶמְצָעִיּוֹת מֵעֵין הַבְּרָכוֹת. וְאִם חִדֵּשׁ אֲפִלּוּ בִּבְרָכָה אַחַת דַּיּוֹ כְּדֵי לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁהִיא נְדָבָה וְלֹא חוֹבָה. וְשָׁלֹשׁ רִאשׁוֹנוֹת וְשָׁלֹשׁ אַחֲרוֹנוֹת לְעוֹלָם אֵין מוֹסִיפִין בָּהֶן וְלֹא פּוֹחֲתִין מֵהֶן וְאֵין מְשַׁנִּין בָּהֶן דָּבָר:

The number of these services may not be diminished but may be increased. If a person wishes to pray the whole day, he may do so. And the prayers he adds are accounted to him as if he brought free-will offerings. He must accordingly add in each of the middle blessings a thought appropriate to the particular blessing. If this is done in one of the blessings only, that is sufficient, the object being to make it manifest that the prayer is voluntary and not obligatory. In the first three and last three blessings there must be no addition, diminution or change.

10 י

אֵין הַצִּבּוּר מִתְפַּלְּלִין תְּפִלַּת נְדָבָה לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הַצִּבּוּר מְבִיאִין קָרְבַּן נְדָבָה. וְלֹא יִתְפַּלֵּל אֲפִלּוּ יָחִיד מוּסָף שְׁתַּיִם אַחַת חוֹבַת הַיּוֹם וְאַחַת נְדָבָה לְפִי שֶׁאֵין מִתְנַדְּבִין קָרְבַּן מוּסָף. וְיֵשׁ מִן הַגְּאוֹנִים מִי שֶׁהוֹרָה שֶׁאָסוּר לְהִתְפַּלֵּל תְּפִלַּת נְדָבָה בְּשַׁבָּתוֹת וְיָמִים טוֹבִים לְפִי שֶׁאֵין מַקְרִיבִין בָּהֶן נְדָבָה אֶלָּא חוֹבַת הַיּוֹם בִּלְבַד:

A congregation does not hold a voluntary service, because the community never brought a free-will offering. Additional services (those recited on Sabbaths, Festivals and New Moons), may not be recited twice [even by a private individual], once by way of discharging an obligatory duty and once voluntarily, because the additional sacrifices were never brought as free-will offerings. One of the Geonim decided that it is forbidden to recite any voluntary service on Sabbaths and Festivals, since on those days no free-will offerings were brought but only those that were obligatory.