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Thought for the Day: Rethink Having Kavana for Davening

Today's thought is more of a PSA than anything else.  I start p'sukei d'zimra a few minutes earlier than the shaliach tzibur so I can say them at my own pace.  The Mishna Brura is quite insistent that p'sukei d'zimra be said intently and without rushing.  In fact, since p'sukei d'zimra is designed to hew a path through all the "klipos"  -- nasty spiritual parasites that drain t'filla of its efficacy -- I put as much as I can into p'sukei d'zimra.  My t'filos are weak enough without the help of all those parasites, thank you.  In any case, I start early enough that I generally have a minute or two between when I finish yishtabach and when the shaliach tzibur finishes.  I use that time to learn a chidush on t'fila.

This morning I saw in Halichos Shlomo that he is in doubt if someone whose davening (and k'ri'as sh'ma) consists of "his lips are moving and words tumbling out" is yotzei t'fila at all.  Moreover, he says, this is even according to the one who holds that mitzva ein tzricha kavana (that no explicit intent is necessary to fulfill a mitzvah).  He brings a proof from hilchos sh'chita.  Suppose a shochet gets to work, prepares for the day, checks his knives; then explicitly and orally declares his kavana to perform all of his sh'chita that shift l'sheim mitzvas sh'chita and with the intent to thereby fulfill the Will of his Creator, blessed be He.  Then, as the shochet is walking to his place, he slips and -- in the midst of falling -- slices an animal's throat with all the hidurim necessary to ensure there is nothing pasul about the slaughter.  That slaughter is not sh'chita and the animal is a n'veila.  In spite of all his elaborate and appropriate preparations, no Jew is eating that animal.

So, concludes the Halichos Shlomo, that leave room to wonder what is the status of a t'fila that is said by rote and without thought.  On the other hand, maybe he was yotzei, so the t'fila can't be repeated.  How about a t'fila n'dava?  Are you serious?  That one requires even more explicit kavana for every single word than our three daily required t'filos and requires a chidush.

I just thought you'd like to know.  Ok, to be honest, misery loves company; so I am sharing.


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