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I have often seen the Tur cited as giving exact word counts for each blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh. The arguments I have seen for being careful to adhere to the word counts include that this would presumably be as it was brought by the Anshei Knesses Hagedola as well as the word counts having Kabbalistic significance, while the argument for relying instead on a given nusach that differs from these numbers is the very valid matter of established custom.

I'm having trouble finding the exact counts for each blessing - I don't have a physical copy of the Tur and can only find sections on hebrewbooks.org. Is it referenced in the Shulchan Aruch? If so, which siman? Is it brought anywhere else?

Perhaps the sources deal with this, but how does this accomodate differences between Spring and Winter, or Sim Shalom/Shalom Rav?

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The initial idea of the number of words, I believe comes from the Talmud. (but it could be something akin to Rashi on the Talmud, since I don't remember the quote) – avi Aug 8 '11 at 4:49
up vote 5 down vote accepted

In the Aruch Hashulchan (Siman 112) there is a discussion of the word counts (see s'if 4). The following simanim, about the different b'rachot, mention the word counts of the individual b'rachot.

Note that he gives the counts from the Tur, when he has them, and from the P'ri Etz Chayyim (the Ari) when he doesn't, even though they used different nusachim.

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I think the relevant siman in the Tur is OC 113, but I only see discussion of the first 3 berachot.

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In subsequent simanim he goes on to give counts for most of the other berachos too (although he seems to skip some, such as Selach Lanu and Re'eh). – Alex Aug 8 '11 at 15:01

The Rashba (Berachot 11a) proves that different nuschaot are ok because the Talmud does not give numbers of words for each bracha thereby implying that any text that says the right general idea works.

See this article for more about different nuschaot.

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