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I pray Nusach Ashkenaz. I noticed that various Siddurim place the personal prayer for ill people ("Yehi Ratzon") in one of two places during the weekday Amidah.

Art Scroll says to include it in the Bracha of "Refa'enu" (the 5th bracha of the middle section). Other Siddurim such as "Kol Bo", I believe, include it in "Shema Koleinu" (the last bracha of the middle section.)

I assume that the same differences occur in Nusach Sefard, Edot Hamizrach, and other nuscha'ot as well. I welcome answers that may have diferent reasons in different nuscha'ot.

What is the reason for the difference in these positions?

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The point that is being made is that one is allowed to add a personal prayer to any of the middle brachos in shmona esrai as long as it is appropriate to the theme of the bracha. Thus, the theme of rafa-ainu is healing a sick person and it would not be allowed to say a different type of bracha (such as for parnasa) at that point. However, the theme for shma koleinu is asking Hashem to answer our personal request. Thus, if one has a different problem, and is not sure wheich of the brachos is appropriate, or has thought of it after having passed the appropriate bracha, then one can add it in there. In fact, the reason that the yehi ratzon is written in the sidur is because we are not fluent in formulating such a personal prayer any more. One must write it out for onself beforehand in order not to stumble over the words if attempting to use ones own words.

As an example, if one has been attacked by Lashon Hara, it might be possible to come up with an appropriate Yehi Ratzon for V'lamalshinim or for resolution of a court case in ...

Since we are no longer expert in coming up with these prayers and determining which one it would belong in, we use shma koleinu and find appropriate prayers that those greater than us have written.

personal prayers

One may add a personal prayer into any one of the 19 blessings, providing that the supplication is relevant to the topic of the blessing. For example, in the blessing of "Rifa'einu" (Health and Healing), one may specifically ask that someone be healed from their sickness.39 The exception to this rule is the blessing "Shema Koleinu" (Acceptance of Prayer), where one may ask for any needs.

The best place to say a personal supplication is "Elokai Nitzor," which is said after the 19th blessing.40 At this point, some also have the custom to say a verse that contains their name, or that begins with the first letter of their name and ends with the last letter of their name.

Can I Add My Own Prayers to the Amidah?

For starters, you can insert a short personal prayer within each of the middle 13 blessings of the Amidah. Such a prayer should fit the theme of that specific blessing. For example, ask for the speedy recovery of specific person within the blessing of Refa-enu (Heal us), or pray for livelihood in the blessing of Barech Aleinu (G‑d grant blessing).

Requests that are unrelated to any of these 13 blessings can be added to the blessing of Shema Koleinu (Hear our voice) since its theme is a general request for our needs. Your personal prayer should be added before the blessing's concluding words: ki attah shome'a tefilat kol peh... ("for You hear the words of every mouth...").

Another place for personal prayer is the end of the Amidah, before you recite the second Yiheyu leratzon... (May our prayer be desirous to You...). Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chaim 119:1. Footnotes 1.

"The Men of the Great Assembly knew which transmissions of G‑dly vitality are needed at each point in time, evening, morning and afternoon. As the spirit of G–d was upon them, they were able to determine just the names, titles, words and letters necessary ... Therefore, these prayers are real prayers, meaning that they are all measured precisely according to the need" (Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, Likutei Amarim).

See also Torat Menachem, 12 Tammuz, 5720, s'if 20; Likutei Sichot, vol. 16, page 578, citing the Ibn Ezra on the verse (Ecclesiastes 5:1), "G–d is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, make your words few." By Yisroel Cotla

  • There's a lot in your answer which is not supported by your source. – Double AA Mar 31 '16 at 3:42
  • @DoubleAA I will add more details later. I do not have time right now. part is from memory of a shiur on Rambam and shiur on why we do not add our own words nowadays – sabbahillel Mar 31 '16 at 3:56

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