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In the first bracha of Shemoneh Esrei, why do we say:

אֱלקֵּי אַבְרָהָם. אֱלקֵּי יִצְחָק. וֵאלקֵּי יַעֲקב

God of Avraham, God of Yitzchak, and God of Yaakov;

instead of just saying:

אֱלקֵּי אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק יַעֲקב

God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov;

What's the significance of having "אֱלקֵּי" in front of each of the Avos?

  • 2
    We're just quoting a Pasuk. Ask on the Pasuk. The first blessing of the Amida is almost entirely Psukim. Shemot 3:15, Devarim 10:17, Bereishit 14:22 followed by relevant Piyut (weekdays: וזוכר חסדי אבות ומביא גואל לבני בניהם למען שמו באהבה, Shabbat: רצה והנחל שבת לבניהם למנוחה למען שמו באהבה, Days of Awe: זכרינו לחים מלך חפץ בחיים וכתבנו בספר החיים למענך אלהים חיים) although the common custom nowadays is to always use the weekday one and sometimes append the Days of Awe version and/or other Piyut. – Double AA Mar 26 at 11:52
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    @DoubleAA What's the source for the piyut concept that you mentioned? – DanF Mar 27 at 15:07
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A few answers:

The Dover Shalom writes that each of the Avos attained a unique recognition of Hashem, Avraham through "gedulah," and Yitzchok through "gevurah," and Yaakov through each of his fathers' approaches plus his own (and therefore Yaakov has a vov by the mention of אלקים associated with his name).

Etz Yosef explains that it is following the instruction Dovid HaMelech gave to his son Shlomo (Divrei Hayomim 28:9) that he should arrive at his own knowledge of Hashem. Each of the Avos attained an understanding of Hashem through their own investigation, and not just as a reliance on the understanding of their predecessors. (Panim Meiros says a similar idea.)

The Lechem Rav explains this based on Bava Metzia daf פה, that Eliyahu serves the Avos in Ma'aras Hamachpela separately, because if they joined together it would "force" the redemption before its proper time. So too when we pray, and the lips of the Avos are moved through our prayers, we separate them to not have them pray together.

  • Thanks for the answers!! Would you possibly have links to the sources? (and if so feel free to edit them in) – alicht Mar 26 at 5:48
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    @alicht The general rule is things towards the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei are before I started keeping well-documented notes. But Dover Shalom and Etz Yosef are both ad loc in the אוצר התפילות. – Y     e     z Mar 26 at 5:50
  • @Y e z Do you want to include the specific tzerufim of G-d's 4 letter name for each of the Avot? That relates to the three opening blessings of the Amidah. Each tzeruf according to each of the Avot. – Yaacov Deane Mar 26 at 20:58

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