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The Shulchan Aruch (OC 119:1) rules that one may add to a middle Brachah (i.e. from Atah Chonein to Shema Koleinu, inclusive) of Shemoneh Esrei a personal request on the topic; for instance, if one wishes to daven for a sick person, he may include it at the end of Refa’einu. In Shema Koleinu, one may add any requests he has. The Rema holds that one may only add to the end of a Bracha. The Shulchan Aruch quotes Rabbeinu Yonah that one who davens for many people should phrase his request in the plural, and one who davens for an individual should phrase his request in the singular, though if one adds to Shema Koleinu or the end of Shemoneh Esrei, he can phrase it however he wishes.

Other than those brief statements there (which is all the Shulchan Aruch quotes on the topic), how should one phrase it? If one is davening in Hebrew, should he add his requests in Hebrew as well? If one is davening for himself, should he just refer to himself in the first person, or should he use his full name (ben/bas mother’s name)? Does it even matter?

  • I don't understand why you'd even consider that the requests wouldn't be in Hebrew and in the first person. – Double AA Jun 5 '18 at 1:59
  • @DoubleAA First person definitely makes sense, but while it’s better that the entire tefillah be in one language, is there a strict requirement that this be the case? – DonielF Jun 5 '18 at 2:59
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You can pray in the language which is easiest for you and do not need the full name of the person.

R Heshy Kleinman in Praying with fire (p. 209) writes

All of these [personal prayer] requests can even be made in the person's own language if he has difficulty reciting them in Hebrew.

He then quotes the Chaye Adam (quoted by Mishna Brura 122:8) on the importance of adding personal requests to Elokai Netzor

It is appropriate and worthwhile for every person to pray each day specifically for his own financial needs, and other practical part of life, and that his children should be Torah scholars and that all his descendants should be God fearing people... And if he cannot phrase these thoughts in the Hebrew language of prayer, let him say his thoughts in his own language as long as they come from the depths of his heart.

See also SA OC 101:4.


I saw in another sefer (but couldn't find it now) that a prayer should be phrased starting with "May it be Your will that". I found a proof to that in the prayer composed by the Chazon Ish (Kovetz Igrot Chazon Ish 1:74) for the success of a child in Torah study

May it be Your will, our God and the God of our fathers, that you have mercy on my child (name and the mother's name) and turn his heart to love and fear Your Name and to dedicate himself to the study of our Holy Torah; and remove all the factors which prevent him from Torah study, and prepare all the factors which will bring him closer to learning your holy Torah.

In that same sefer, it said one can pray for himself by saying "May it be your will that you help me etc." without using one's full name. This is similar to how one can pray in presence of a sick person without using his full name.

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The Shulchan Aruch (101:4) brings two opinions about asking your personal requests - such as for a sick person or other situations - in language other than Lashon HaKodesh. However, if one is davening with a minyan or in the presence of a sick person (M"B 101:9), where Hashem's accepts the tefila directly, he may daven in any language according to all opinions.

The reason one must say the name of a choleh when davening, is so that his tefila is clear. Therefore when davening in the presence of the choleh, no name needs to be said (Aruch HaShulchan 119:1). The אשי ישראל פרק כ"ג הערה קפ"ט quotes ר' חיים קניבסקי that when davening for one's own child they can just say בני/בתי and their name without the mothers name. It follows that when asking for yourself, you can be "clear" without saying any names.

The Chasam Sofer (.נדרים מ) brings from Mekubalim, that it is better not to say the name of a choleh if one can daven without mentioning their name, such as when in the presence of the choleh.

  • I once went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky and asked him for a bracha for a refuah for a sick person. I handed him a paper with the name of the sick person written on it. He responded with "Refuah shleleima". I asked him why he did not say the name of the person when he gave his bracha, since the person is not in front of him. He answered, "It's on the paper, so there's no need to, just as if he were here". (It seems he understands Bracha and Tefillah to be the same). – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jul 23 '18 at 13:49

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