The following Talmud passage (Taanit 8b) indicates we must not pray for too many things:

In the days of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani there was a famine and a deadly plague.
People asked: “What shall we do? Shall we pray for [the removal] of both? That is not possible. [We do not pray for two things at a time.] Let us then pray for [the removal of] the plague and we will endure the famine.”

Thereupon Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani said to them: “Let us rather pray [for the removal of] the famine, because when the All-Merciful gives plenty, He gives it for the living, [not for the dead,] as it is said [in the Book of Psalms]: “You open Your hand and give to each living thing according to his need”.” [Ps. 145:16]

How how do we know that we do not pray for two things [at the same time]?

Because it is written [in Ezra]: So we fasted and petitioned our God concerning “this” [in the singular]. [Ezra 8:23] This indicates that there were other things for which they could have prayed [but didn’t].

In the Land of Israel, it was reported in the name of Rabbi Haggai that it could [also] be deduced from this verse [in Daniel]: … Implore the God of Heaven for help concerning “this” mystery [in the singular]. [Dan. 2:18] This implies that there were other things for which they could have prayed [but didn’t].

Is this halacha or a suggestion? We pray for many things at the same time all the time. The daily Amidah has 13 petitionary prayers. If you say: It's not at the same time; one follows another, then I ask: What is 'At the same time'?

  • 2
    FYI, the best way to figure out if the Gemmorah is an accepted Halachah is to look at Eyn Mitzva and Ner Mishpat footnotes that list everything Halachic on the page (small David font Hebrew letters in the text).
    – Al Berko
    May 22, 2019 at 22:35
  • @AlBerko sefaria.org/…
    – hazoriz
    May 23, 2019 at 2:39
  • @AlBerko sefaria.org/Arukh_HaShulchan%2C_Orach_Chaim.576.21
    – hazoriz
    May 23, 2019 at 2:44
  • I recently heard a shir by Rabbi Mizrachi where he taught the order in which we pray is of utmost importance... I'm paraphrasing; we are supposed to pray for the most important things first and then go down to less urgent things...don't know it's original source in the gemara but maybe someone knows it and it might have some connection with this gemara
    – code613
    May 23, 2019 at 3:57
  • THis is totally different from Amida, your quote speaks of a specific problem and Amidah is general - we don't ask for a particular case [but in personal additions, like for particular sick person]
    – Al Berko
    May 23, 2019 at 7:18


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