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Originally Shmoneh Esreh only had 18 blessings, thus the name "Shemoneh Esreh." However, subsequently a 19th blessing was added of Velamalshinim regarding the heretics. If there are 19 blessings now, why do we not refer to it as Tisha Esreh (19 Berachot)? Why did we retain the original name of Shemoneh Esreh?

This was a question asked to me by my daughter.

I wonder if it was simply a sociological phenomena and that is why is stuck or if there was an actual idea that was being conveyed by keeping the name. As if to say it is only a temporary blessing or something along those lines.

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Tradition! :-) More on-point, though, I wonder how widespread the name "shemoneh esreh" was already at the time the change was made. –  Monica Cellio Aug 18 '13 at 21:02
    
Maybe the name was already too widespread? Trying to change the name today would be impossible, maybe it was like that back then as well. –  Hacham Gabriel Aug 18 '13 at 21:04
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I wonder if it was simply a sociological phenomena and that is why is stuck or if there was an actual idea that was being conveyed by keeping the name. As if to say it is only a temporary blessing or something along those lines. –  RCW Aug 18 '13 at 21:15
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I was under the impression that there was some discussion as regards which of the nineteen was added: either the imprecation against sectarians, which you mentioned, or the petition for Jerusalem to be rebuilt. As for the name, the mishna in Berakhot 4:3 could be read as featuring a proper noun: בכל יום מתפלל אדם שמונה עשרה (ie: "every day one should pray Shemoneh Esreh"), although I don't know how early on it was construed as such. Usually, the Mishna refers to it simply as תפלה (eg: Berakhot 2:4, 3:3, 3:5, etc). –  Shimon bM Aug 19 '13 at 3:19
    
See the gemara at the bottom of B'rachos 28b, which addresses the significance of eighteen blessings, as well as the origin of v'lamalshinim. –  Fred Aug 19 '13 at 22:48
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3 Answers

The OU website gives the possible reason that we hope that beracha will not be needed anymore and there won't be any opponents to judaism,so we hope by calling it shmoneh esrei but have 19 as a relevant need.

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I have heard that answer before, but is there a source for the answer? –  RCW Aug 19 '13 at 17:29
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Mechon Mamre says what I always thought,

One of the thirteen requests (the one against heretics) was added around the 2nd century C.E., in response to the growing threat of heresy (primarily Christianity), but at that time, the prayer was already commonly known as the Shemoneh Esrei, and the name stuck, even though there were now 19 blessings.

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I've heard this is potentially apocryphal but that the 19th bracha was just a new demarcation of 18 brachot. –  Charles Koppelman Aug 19 '13 at 20:48
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See the discussion here: http://www.shemayisrael.com/dafyomi2/taanis/insites/tn-dt-13.htm

Note that even in the Geonic era, there were those versions of Shmoneh Esreh that consisted of 18 blessings despite the addition of Velamalshinim.

Even after the additional blessing was added, there was a practice to combine "Tzemach David" with "L'Yerushalayim". You can still see a remnant of this in the "Krovetz L'Purim" which is said in Shmoneh Esreh on Purim. The "Krovetz" is divided into 18 sections to correspond to both 18 words in a certain verse in Esther, and the 18 blessing in Shmoneh Esreh. In order to keep the number of sections to 18, one section corresponds to both "Tzemach David" and "L'Yerushalayim". See Yaakov Emden's siddur for more information.

Both the Talmud and the midrash Shocher Tov show a correspondence of the 18 blessings with the 18 occurences of God's name in Psalm 29. The Talmud simply excludes Velamalshinim because it was added later. But the midrash includes Velamalshinim and combines "Tzemach David" and "L'Yerushalayim".

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