Most of the amida requests are said in the plural: "forgive us… heal us…". Who's "us"? I'd think it's Jews generally — but in the final benediction we ask for beneficence for "us and your entire nation Israel". So is "us" the group praying together, perhaps? Or who? And if it's all Jews, how do we explain "us and your entire nation Israel" in the last benediction?

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/89853/… – Alex Jan 1 '19 at 3:19
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    1. Can it be a subject to a particular person's intentions? Some think that and some think the other? 2. Why can't it be both, like in MishBerach we can say "bless me, and my whole family and the congregation and the Jews in Israel and the whole world" where each next includes all the previous? – Al Berko Jan 1 '19 at 8:32
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    This also comes to a head in the 13th b'racha ("Av harachaman . . ."), which might be a clue to an answer. We list all these groups of people and then append "and us" to the list, implying that the latter is either excluded or at least not fully overlapping with the prior ones. I once went to a shi'ur focused on your question applied to that b'racha. – WAF Jan 1 '19 at 11:25

Most of them refer to the entirety of the Jewish nation (See Sefer שמונה עשרה המבואר on the first נו in the בקשות [beseeching] section of Shmonah Esrei which is וחננו מאיתך on page 258). For example, in Yom Tov Shemonah Esrei we say (some parts of this we only say at certain times such as when Yom Tov coincides with Friday night or Saturday night)

וַתּודִיעֵנוּ ה' אֱלהֵינוּ אֶת מִשְׁפְּטֵי צִדְקֶךָ וַתְּלַמְּדֵנוּ לַעֲשות בָּהֶם חֻקֵּי רְצונֶךָ וַתִּתֶּן לָנוּ ה' אֱלהֵינוּ מִשְׁפָּטִים יְשָׁרִים וְתורות אֱמֶת חֻקִּים וּמִצְות טובִים וַתַּנְחִילֵנוּ זְמַנֵּי ששון וּמועֲדֵי קודֶשׁ וְחַגֵּי נְדָבָה. וַתּורִישֵׁנוּ קְדֻשַּׁת שַׁבָּת וּכְבוד מועֵד וַחֲגִיגַת הָרֶגֶל וַתַּבְדֵּל ה' אֱלהֵינוּ בֵּין קודֶשׁ לְחול בֵּין אור לְחשֶׁךְ בֵּין יִשרָאֵל לָעַמִּים בֵּין יום הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשה בֵּין קְדֻשַּׁת שַׁבָּת לִקְדֻשַּׁת יום טוב הִבְדַּלְתָּ וְאֶת יום הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַעֲשה קִדַּשְׁתָּ הִבְדַּלְתָּ וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ אֶת עַמְּךָ יִשרָאֵל בִּקְדֻשָּׁתֶךָ: וַתִּתֶּן לָנוּ ה' אֱלהֵינוּ בְּאַהֲבָה לשבת שַׁבָּתות לִמְנוּחָה וּ מועֲדִים לְשמְחָה חַגִּים וּזְמַנִּים לְששון אֶת יום:

All the נוs over there need to refer to the Jewish nation as a whole.

However, Pathway to Prayer by Rav Mayer Birnbaum explains the words "הוּא יַעֲשה שָׁלום עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשרָאֵל." to mean "may he make peace... on those of us here (praying together) and on all of Israel.

I assume that the reason we pray for peace for those of us praying here together separately from the rest of the Jewish nation is because among one community there is unfortunately often a lot of internal discord so it necessitates its own separate prayer (and there's probably also a lot of value in having the members of one community pray for peace with each other).

See also Sefer נפשי חולת אהבתיך pages 444-449 for several other answers.

  • Interesting. Can you support your first sentence? – msh210 Aug 20 '19 at 5:18

Brachos 30 אמר אביי, לעולם לישתף איניש נפשיה בהדי ציבורא Abaye says that one should always include himself with the community. By praying in a plural form we include ourselves with the community.

Rashi says אל יתפלל תפלה קצרה בלשון יחיד אלא בלשון רבים שמתוך כך תפלתו נשמעת one should pray in a plural form in order for his prayer to be accepted.

See Otzros Hamusar - Volume 2 - Page 1109

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    So is "us" the group praying together, perhaps? Or who? – msh210 Jan 1 '19 at 16:29
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    This is only citations about the importance of praying with a minyan. And each citation is only the opinion of single individuals. It completely ignores the question from the OP. – Yaacov Deane Jan 1 '19 at 16:58
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    @YaacovDeane Rashi clearly is not talking about a Minyan. Rashi says Lashon Rabim. – Gershon Gold Jan 1 '19 at 17:01
  • @GershonGold Rashi is commenting on the statement of Abaye beginning on Brachot 29b. Abaye is emphasizing the importance of praying with a minyan. Rashi is showing how when you are traveling alone. – Yaacov Deane Jan 1 '19 at 17:53
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    @YaacovDeane I disagree with your understanding of this answer. It is clear to me from this Gemara and Rashi that one should pray in plural not that one should pray with a Minyan. – Gershon Gold Jan 1 '19 at 17:57
  • The blessing of wisdom is ambiguos. Likely based on the Talmud (Nidah 70b) from the verse (Mishley 2:6). However, this verse refers to Torah acquisition (Malbim ad. loc., Midrash Tehilim 2:2; Vayikra Rabbah 11:3), and the Torah is ours.

  • Return us to your torah, makes the relationship clear.

  • Forgive us our Father, makes the relationship clear.

  • Our pain, ends in redeemer of Israel.

  • Heal us, ends in healer of Israel.

  • Last blessing of us and your entire nation Israel, is equally separated towards the end, it shall be good in your eyes to bless us and to bless the entire nation Israel. This indeed distinguishes the present congregation from the nation. The relationship is also clear because it says bless us our Father.

  • Is this truism? – Dr. Shmuel Aug 16 '19 at 17:17
  • I’m not clear on how this answers the question. – LN6595 Aug 23 '19 at 15:17

I like to think that I’m Davening for myself and my wife. But you can have in mind whoever you feel a part of when pleading to the King.

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    Welcome to MiYodeya Yaakov and thanks for this first answer. Can I recommend you take the tour to get a sense of how the site works? Also since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. See in particular the focus on sourcing your answers. Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Aug 20 '19 at 4:10

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