The sun has risen; a new day beckons.

It’s time to climb a ladder, to ascend to the heavenly spheres and fortify our sensitivity for G‑d and spirituality. After this daily booster we descend, equipped to tackle the day and the struggles it will present.

This ladder is the morning prayers, shacharit, recited sometime between sunrise and midday (the earlier the better). The prayer lasts, on average, half an hour.

Shacharit is preceded by several pages of preliminary blessings and prayers. After this preamble, the ladder-climbing commences.

Rung One:

Content: Hodu—a set of verses that praise the Almighty—and Psalms 30 and 67.
Theme: Simple acknowledgement of G‑d as the Master of the Universe, and a commitment to obey His will.

The Amidah reveals the intrinsic bond that connects us with the Creator, a bond that transcends emotion or intellect

Rung Two:

Content: The “Verses of Praise,” a series of Psalms (the bulk is Psalm 145–150), preceded by a blessing (Baruch She’amar) and followed by one (Yishtabach).
Theme: Awakening an emotional attachment to G‑d through awareness of His awesome deeds.

Rung Three:

Content: The Shema, preceded by two blessings and followed by one.
Theme: Contemplating the workings of the supernal worlds and comprehension of G‑d’s greatness and oneness.

Rung Four:

Content: The Amidah.
Theme: The Amidah is when one stands before G‑d and addresses Him directly, asking for his needs. This closeness denotes complete oneness with G‑d, a revelation of the intrinsic bond that connects us with the Creator, a bond that transcends emotion or intellect. This prayer is recited while standing at attention, and in an undertone.

Climbing Down

The Amidah is followed by penitential prayers, a brief reading from the Torah scroll on Mondays and Thursdays (and some other festive days), the “Song of the Day,” followed by the “Ein k’Elokeinu” and “Aleinu” hymns.


  • Adult males don tefillin and tallit for the course of the prayer.
  • When there are ten men, kaddish is recited several times during the prayer, and the prayer leader repeats the Amidah aloud while the rest answer “Amen.”
  • For special days (e.g., Shabbat, holidays, fast days), there are special variations. Certain prayers are added or omitted.