chapter  1
26 Pages

Prayers and liturgical texts

The “Eighteen Blessings” is fi rst attested in rabbinic traditions from the fi rst century CE as a prayer that is to be recited three times every day (with additional recitations on special occasions). The title aptly describes its formal structure: it is a sequence of “blessings,” that is to say, passages containing the formula “Blessed are you, O Lord.” The Talmud provides considerable detail as to the themes of the blessings, but does not prescribe specifi c texts; and scholars are in disagreement about whether a specifi c text of the prayer actually existed in ancient times. The Talmud traces the choice of themes and their sequence to biblical sources, and though some of those explanations are quite plausible, it is not possible to fully reconstruct the prayer’s origins.