Prologue: The Talmud (Berachos 32b) notes that if one sees a person Daven and not get an answer, he should return and Daven again as it is written Kaveh El Hashem Chazak V”Yametz Leebecha v’Kaveh el hashem.
When one makes a request from a friend more than once, s/he runs the risk of being “overbearing” or a “nag”. However, the Gemara is telling us that Hashem specifically waits for it. Why such a contrast in the repeated request style between Hashem and the human being?
Rav Shimson Dovid Pinkus explains that when it comes to requests from our fellow man, the act of asking is merely a means (a “Heichee Timtza”) to getting what one wants. Until the request is fulfilled, the person merely repeats the request until s/he gets his/her way. However, when it come to Tefilla, the action of Tefilla and its composition is an ends on its own. It is the means whereby one unites with Hashem (See further Ramban, Berashis 25:22). Such a restatement is desired by Hashem – in fact, he waits for it especially from the Tzaddikim.
This week’s chaburah examines the means we use when we Daven to Hashem, it is entitled:
Kavana in Davening
(based on the Shiurim of Rabbi Zvi Ryzman – Sefer Raz KaTzvi – Olamot.net)
The Gemara in Berachos (34b) writes that one must have Kavana in ALL the Berachos of Tefilla. However, if this proves to be impossible, he should at least have proper Kavana in the first Beracha – that of Avos. But what exactly is the concept of Kavana and how is it to be divided between a L’Chatchila and B’D’Eved style?
The Rambam presents hias view in a more perplexing way. Initially, he identifies that one must have Kavana throughout his Tefilla while later on, he returns to the understanding that one can merely have Kavana in the first Beracha of Shmoneh Esrai and still fulfill his prayer obligations. How can the Rambam take two diametrically opposed positions within his understanding of the laws of Kavana?
Rav Chaim Soloveitchik (Grach al HaRambam Hil. Tefillah 4:1) notes that the Rambam identifies two forms of Kavana. In the first, one must understands all the words that he recites during the Tefilla. The second type of kavana is an awareness that one is in the presence of Hashem. The former can be cumbersome and difficult and therefore, if one merely understands the meaning of the words in Avos, s/he has fulfilled the obligation of Shmoneh Esrai’s Kavana. However, one who lacks the awareness that s/he is standing in front of Hashem, has ruined the concept of tefilla and as such, at any point,, must return and re-recite the Tefilla (Maybe that’s why one cannot pass in front of someone who is davening – it interrupts the Shechina – See Orach Chaim 102:4).
Problem is that the Chazon Ish (Gilyonos al Sefer Grach al HaRambam) notes that Rav Chaim’s definition is hard to accept. He notes that it is virtually impossible not to think of something else during the time one is davening. Since one davens to Hashem and thinking of anything else is interrupting that awareness, it would follow that most of us do not fulfill our obligations of davening according to this position.
This leads the Chazon Ish to the understanding that when one gets up to Daven, he gets up to Daven out of an obligation and awareness that he is davening to Hashem and accordingly meets the minimal requirements for Lifnei Hashem awareness.
This idea is supported by the Koshenglover (Shut Eretz Zvi ) and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shut Minchas Shlomo I:1a) who maintain that one suffices with the declaration of intent at the start of davening that he is davening to Hashem and that initial intent carries through until the end of the Tefilla.
L’Halacha, Kavana is clearly important in Tefilla. Indeed the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 101:1) cautions us that we must have Kavana. Rema notes that while he supports the Kavana idea, we do not repeat the Tefilla for “not enough Kavana because who says you’ll have Kavana next time. Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Shut Yabia Omer III:O.C. – 8) cites that Chida and others who note that Sefaradim agree with Ashkenazim here and do not repeat for Kavana’s sake.