Shemoneh Esrei concludes with the verse: “May the words of my mouth and thoughts of my heart find favor before You, Hashem, my Stronghold and my Redeemer” (Tehillim 19:15).
This verse is generally considered to mark the end of Shemoneh Esrei. But this raises a question: When is the official end of Shemoneh Esrei? Is it when we complete the last bracha or after we have finished saying all of the concluding prayers before we take three steps backward?
One opinion in the Talmud implies that this verse should be said as soon as we finish the nineteen blessings of Shemoneh Esrei (Brachos 9b). Based on this opinion, the Shulchan Aruch rules that it should be said immediately upon completing the last bracha. Before saying this verse, it is forbidden to say anything else (Shulchan Aruch 122: 1-2).
However, a second opinion in the Talmud implies that yihyu l’ratzon can be said after the prayers following Shemoneh Esrei (Brachos 29b). Based on this opinion, the Rema notes that in some communities the custom is not to say this verse until one is ready to take three steps backward (Rema 122,1). Although many Ashkenazim follow the ruling of the Rema not to say yihyu l’ratzon until the very end of tefilla, the custom is to say the verse before responding to kaddish or Kedusha.
Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org