Personal Requests in Shema Koleinu-Background & Chabad custom

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Personal requests in Shema Koleinu:[1]

It is permitted for one to request from Hashem anything he needs during Shomeia Tefila [i.e. Shema Koleinu] as this blessing incorporates all the requests of a person.

How to request in the blessing:[2] One must first begin the blessing and only afterwards is he to add his personal requests. One is not to first make his personal request and only then begin the blessing.[3] [One is to first recite an entire phrase of the blessing and is not to suffice with merely a few words.[4] Practically, one is to make the request prior to reciting the words “Ki Ata Shomeia Tefilas Kol Peh”.[5]]

What requests may one make?[6] One may request anything he desires during Shomeia Tefila, whether it is a personal request or a request for the community and public. The request may be worded either in singular tense or in plural.[7]

How many requests may one make?[8] Even in the blessing of Shomeia Tefila, when making personal requests or requests for an individual, one is not to lengthen in his request. [One is to ask a general request that includes all other requests.[9]] However, one may lengthen in requests for the need of the public. Likewise, even personal requests or requests for an individual may be said in length if the individual is needed by the public for his Torah, as in such a case it is considered the needs of the public.[10]

Confessing and then requesting livelihood:[11] It is proper [based on Kabala] for one to confess [his personal sins[12]] in Shomeia Tefila using a singular wording [i.e. Chatasi, Avisi, Pashati[13]] and then request [money for] his sustenance. This applies even if one is wealthy [and does not need money, nevertheless he is to request it from Hashem].

How to pray on behalf of another:[14] One who is praying and arousing mercy on behalf of another, needs to mention that person’s name in the prayer, if he is not making the request in front of the person. [Even one who is praying for his father is to mention his father’s name rather than simply say my father.[15] Other Poskim[16] however rule one may say my father, although he is not to mention any title prefix [i.e. honorifics] to his name, such as “my master or teacher” and the like, as there is no prestige before G-d.]


It is permitted for one to request from Hashem anything he needs during Shema Koleinu, whether it be personal requests or requests for the public. However, when making requests for an individual one is not to lengthen in his request. One is to make the request prior to reciting the words “Ki Ata Shomeia Tefilas Kol Peh”. It is proper based on Kabala for one to confess his personal sins in Shomeia Tefila and then request a livelihood.


In what language are the personal requests to be said in?[17]

One is to be particular to say his requests in Lashon Hakodesh if he [is fluent in the language and] understands what he is saying.[18] If, however, he does not understand Lashon Hakodesh, he is to say his requests in whatever language he understands.[19] [Furthermore, if he can express himself better in his native language than in Lashon Hakodesh he is to do so, as the main thing is that the prayer should come from the bottom of one’s heart.[20] Accordingly, many are accustomed to recite their requests in Yiddish or other native language, even if they know Lashon Hakodesh. Also, to note, the Hebrew language spoken in Israel today, while similar to Lashon Hakodesh, is not considered Lashon Hakodesh in this regard unless one divests from it the foreign words that were introduced to the language.[21] Thus, modern Hebrew is not preferred over one’s native language for making personal requests, unless one can divest his words from the modern Hebrew words.[22]]

When Davening with a Minyan:[23] Whenever one is Davening with a Minyan he may say his requests in whatever language he understands, even if he also understands Lashon Hakodesh.[24] [Some[25] say that this applies any time ten people are gathered together, even if they are not in the midst of prayer. Nevertheless, it is best in all cases to say one’s personal prayers in Lashon Hakodesh even when one is with the congregation, if he is fluent in the language.[26]]

When Davening for the sick:[27] When praying and asking for mercy in the presence of the sick person then one may do so in any language he desires [even if he also understands Lashon Hakodesh].[28] When, however, one is not in his presence, he is to only ask in Lashon Hakodesh.[29]


Is one to verbalize the words, or may they only be said in his thought?[30]

The words are to be verbalized and not just said in one’s thought.


May one say personal requests in a set Nussach?[31]

Some Poskim[32] rule one may not make a set dialect for personal requests in Shomeia Tefila, as it appears like one is adding to the dialect of the Sages.[33] Rather, when he is in need, he is to request from Hashem in his own words, and not say the same words every single day as part of his standard prayer. Other Poskim[34] however rule that one may recite daily even a set dialect of personal requests. Practically, it is best not to say a set Nussach daily and rather one is to say it only occasion, or should say it in a different dialect each time.[35]

Should one specifically make his requests in Shema Koleinu, rather than after Shemoneh Esrei?[36]

Yes. If however saying personal prayers in Shema Koleinu will cause one to miss saying Kedusha with the Minyan, then it is better to say the personal prayers in the Yehiyu Leratzon. Likewise, if he desires to lengthen his requests, then he may only do so after Shemoneh Esrei, as stated above.

Having extra concentration by other blessings:[37]

One who adds his personal requests in Shemoneh Esrei is to be careful to have extra concentration upon saying the set Nussach of all the other blessings, in order that he is not prosecuted [in heaven] that he only cares about his personal requests. 


Chabad custom:[38]

Chassidim were accustomed to ask for blessings during Shema Koleinu. Many would mention the Rebbe’s name and his mother’s name, asking Hashem to give the Rebbe health and strength. There is no basis for saying that Chassidim don’t say personal prayers in Shema Koleinu, and on the contrary, this was the old age custom. The Rebbe once answered a questioner that requests for Refuah of an individual are to be made in Shema Koleinu.[39] Likewise, the Rebbe explicitly mentioned this concept in a public talk, stating “There is an explicit law…that it is a positive command…for one to pray to G-d for his needs…and in Shema Koleinu one may add more details to the set Nussach each to his personal needs.[40]

Davening for Reshaim:[41]

It is a Mitzvah to Daven for Reshaim that they should repent and not enter Gehinnom. It is forbidden for one to Daven for a Rasha to die. [One should Daven even for his enemies, as at times they are the Gilgul of the Ruach of a Tzaddik, and through prayer their root becomes sweetened and leaves the Rasha, causing his evil to dissipate on its own.[42]]

Davening for healthy children that follow the path of Torah:[43]

It is proper for one to Daven daily on behalf of his livelihood and that the words of Torah do not cede from his mouth or the mouth of his children and that all of his descendants be true servants of Hashem. 


[1] Admur 119:1; Michaber 119:1; Avoda Zara 8a

[2] Admur ibid; Rama ibid

[3] The reason: As one needs to make the Nussach instituted by the Sages the main request while his request is to be secondary to it. [Admur ibid; Taz 119:1] Alternatively, the reason is because doing so is considered a Hefsek. [Levush 119; Kaf Hachaim 119:8]

[4] Taz 119:1; P”M 119 M”Z 1; M”B 119:3; Kaf Hachaim 119:8

[5] See Siddur Yaavetz that the personal prayers of Shema Koleinu are positioned there; Likewise, this is where we add the prayer of Aneinu.

[6] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Birkeiy Yosef 119:3; Mamar Mordechai 119:1; Kaf Hachaim 119:11

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one may not make requests in plural tense during Davening, including during Shomeia Tefila. [Bach in opinion of Rabbeinu Yona; brought in M”A 119:2; Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Peri Chadash 119]

[7] The reason: As the blessing of Shomeia Tefila includes all of one’s requests and was instituted for this purpose. [Admur ibid]

[8] Admur ibid; Michaber 119:2; Mordechai Brachos 103

[9] Birchas Avraham p. 66; Birkeiy Yosef 119:4; Shalmei Tzibur 133; Shaarei Teshuvah 119:3; Kaf Hachaim 119:5

[10] Admur ibid

[11] Admur 119:2; M”A 119:1; Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos Derush 6; Peri Eitz Chaim; Zohar Balak 195b; Shelah Hakadosh, brought in Siddur Yaavetz; Elya Raba 119 in name of Seder Hayom; M”B 119:4; Kaf Hachaim 119:3

[12] If one has a new sin which he transgressed, he is to explicitly mention it and supplicate to Hashem for forgiveness and resolve not to repeat the transgression. [Shalmei Tzibur brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 119:1; M”B ibid] One is to confess the new sin within the adjacent prayer. [Elya Raba ibid in name of Seder Hayom; Kaf Hachaim ibid] One is to say this confession with a broken heart and with tears, and with a broken and teary voice. [Shalmei Tzibur ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid] See also Yesod Veshoresh Havoda Shaar Chamishi Chapter 4 [p. 91]

Day that Tachanun is omitted: It is disputed as to whether one may confess his sins in Shomeia Tefila on days that Tachanun is omitted. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 119 footnote 19]

[13] M”A ibid

[14] Admur 119:3; M”A 119:1; See Brachos 34a

[15] Kneses Hagedola Y.D. 240 in name of Sefer Chassidim; Rav Akiva Eiger; Kaf Hachaim 119:6

[16] Maavor Yabok Mamar Sifsei Tzedek 8, brought in Chida Shiyurei Bracha Y.D. 335

[17] Admur 101:5

[18] 1st opinion:explanation in Admur 101:5 and Michaber 101:4 that by personal requests for an ill person or another family problem one is to be particular to say it in Lashon Hakodesh, and only set prayers may be said in other languages; Rif Brachos 2:7; Rabbanei Tzarfat; Yearos Devash Derush 1; Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8; Shulchan Hatahor 118 footnote 5 all conclude like this opinions

The reason: One is to always say personal requests in Lashon Hakodesh as the angels [Malachei Hashareis] don’t understand other languages, [1st explanation in Admur ibid; Taz 101:4 and M”A 101:6] and a private prayer needs the angels to elevate and vouch for his prayer’s acceptance. [Admur ibid; Rif Brachos 2:7]

Other opinions in Admur: Some Poskim rule that the angels understand all languages, even thoughts, other than Aramaic, and therefore one may Daven [even personal prayers-Michaber ibid] in any language he desires except for Aramaic. [2nd explanation in Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Michaber 101:4 as explained in Taz 101:5 and M”A 101:7; Rosh Brachos 2:2; Tosafus Shabbos 12b, brought in Taz ibid]

[19] Admur ibid; M”A 101:5 in name of Asara Mamaros Mamar Eim Kol Chaiy 1:31 and Sefer Chassidim 588 and 788; Chayeh Adama and M”B ibid

The reason: As a prayer without intent is worthless. [Admur ibid]

[20] See Chayeh Adam and M”B ibid; Beis Baruch 22:6; Piskeiy Teshuvos 101:7; This follows the second opinion mentioned in

[21] See Igros Kodesh of Rebbe Rayatz 3:560 and 4:12 who states that today, after all the innovations of words in modern Hebrew, it is no longer considered Lashon Hakodesh and hence the reasons behind avoiding speaking mundane speech in Hebrew [See Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rashab 2:459] is no longer applicable; Taharas Yom Tov 8:120

[22] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 101 footnote 58

[23] Admur ibid; Michaber 101:4; Mishneh Sotah 32a

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one may only Daven in another language if there are 10 people Davening in that language. If however the Minyan is Davening in Lashon Hakodesh then an individual may not Daven in another language. [Yifei Laleiv 101:10; Kaf Hachaim 101:18] It is clear from the wording of Admur and Poskim ibid unlike this approach, and so writes Piskeiy Teshuvos 101 footnote 41, and so rules Chasam Sofer O.C. 84 and on Shabbos 12b and Makor Chaim 101:4

[24] The reason: As when Davening together with the congregation one does not need angels to elevate and vouch for one’s prayers as the verse states “Hein Kel Kabir Lo Yimas.” [Admur ibid; Taz 101:4] Meaning, that Hashem Himself accepts their prayer, without the medium of an angel. [M”A 101:6]

[25] Piskeiy Teshuvos 101:7

[26] Yearos Devash Derush 1; See Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8; M”B 101:13; Biur Halacha ibid “Yachol Lihispalel”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 101 footnote 57

The reason: As Lashon Hakodesh has many Segulos, and with it the world was created. The words themselves help effect the blessing. [Biur Halacha ibid; See Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rashab 2:459]

[27] Michaber Y.D. 335:5; M”B 101:16; Shabbos 12b

[28] The reason: As the Shechina is found by the ill person. [ibid]

[29] The reason: As the Shechina is present near the ill person and when one requests mercy it reaches straight to Hashem. However, when not in his presence, one needs the assistance of the angels to elevate the request and hence should ask for it in Lashon Hakodesh as the angels don’t understand every language. [Shach 335:3; Taz 335:3; Shabbos ibid] Now, although it is disputed in Rishonim as to whether the angels understand the other languages, and some [Rosh, brought in Admur 101:5] hold they understand all languages other than Aramaic and others [Rif, brought in Admur 101:5] hold they only understand Lashon Hakodesh, nevertheless, by an ill person one is to follow like all opinions being he is in need of mercy and hence pray only in Lashon Hakodesh. [Taz 335:5; Perisha 335, brought in Nekudos Hakesef; Admur 101:5]

[30] See Shaareiy Teshuvah 116:1; Kaf Hachaim 119:1

[31] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 119:1

[32] Taz 122:2; Shulchan Hatahor 116:1; Mishmeres Shalom 10:7; Aruch Hashulchan 119:2 protests the placing of set Nusschaos of confessions and prayers in the Siddur

[33] The reason: The Taz ibid explains that the allowance to recite personal requests in Shemoneh Esrei was never meant to be an allowance for a set prayer but rather for one to ask for his needs as they come up during his life.

[34] Birkeiy Yosef 122:2; M”A 119:1 states one is to recite “Chatasi, Avisi, Pashati,” in every prayer; M”B 119:4 records this ruling and then states in Shaar Hatziyon 119:2 “so rule many other Acharonim unlike the Taz 122:2”; Kaf Hachaim 119:5 says that even according to the Taz ibid one may say a set dialect for the confession and request of livelihood but not for other personal prayers.

Ruling of Admur: On the one hand, in 122:1 Admur completely omits the reason of the Taz ibid for why one should not say the Tachanunim before the first Yiyu Leratzon. On the other hand, when recording the ruling of the M”A ibid in 119:2 Admur omits the set Nussach of “Chatasi, Avisi, Pashati”. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[35] Mishmeres Shalom ibid; Shulchan Hatahor ibid

[36] Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8; Kaf Hachaim 119:12

[37] Sefer Chassidim 158

[38] Response of Harav Eli Landa Shlita and Harav Leibal Groner through a written correspondence

[39] Likkutei Sichos 39:281; See Shulchan Menachem 1:231

[40] in minute 2:30

[41] Zohar Parshas Vayeira; Midrash Hanelam p. 105; Kaf Hachaim 119:7; See Brachos 11a that Berurya told Rebbe Meir not to Daven for the Reshaim to die but for them to do Teshuvah

[42] Keser Shem Tov 18

[43] Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8

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