Kavana During Brachot
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Thinking about the words
- When reciting brachot a person must think about the meaning of the words one is reciting. A blessing should not be thrown from one's mouth and one should make blessings peacefully and calmly. One should think about Hashem's kindness in having provided us with the food or Mitzva which we are about to perform. One who recites blessings out of mere habit arouses Hashem's anger against His people.
- One should not be doing anything else while reciting a beracha or a prayer even if he feels it will not interfere with his kavana. For example one shouldn't set the table, play with a kid, or dry one's hands while reciting a bracha.
- It is technically permitted to recite a bracha besides Birkat Hamazon or Al Hamichya while walking, however, it is preferable not to so that one can have proper intent when reciting the bracha.
Having Kavana for Hashem's name
- Additionally, when reciting Hashem's four letter name "A-donai," one should think about the fact that Hashem is master over the entire world and that Hashem exists throughout time. These two intentions are easy to think about because they correspond to the way Hashem's name is pronounced ("Adon" means "Master" the yud suffix implies "my," thus the meaning of this word's pronunciation is "My Master") and the way Hashem's name is written (with the letters of the words "haya"- "He was," "hove" - "He is," and "yihiye" - "He will be").
- Although one should think about how Hashem's name was pronounced in the Temple (as it is spelled), one is forbidden to pronounce Hashem's name this way and one who does so loses his portion in the world to come.
- When reciting the name "E-lohim" one should think about the fact that Hashem is strong, all-capable, and omnipotent.
- When reciting Hashem's name not in the context of a beracha or the first pasuk of the shema, it is not necessary to have these kavanot.
What Is Included in the Bracha?
- Ideally a person should have in mind specifically whatever he is going to eat with this bracha and exempt it with his bracha.
- If a person didn't have in mind to exempt everything and only specifically intended to exempt a specific food then his bracha does not include other foods with a few exceptions:
- It does exempt more food that was on the table at the time of the bracha.
- It does exempt more of the same food after the fact. It does not exempt more of another food with the same bracha. According to Sephardim it does even exempt more of another food with the same bracha.
- If one didn't finish eating the first food and then got another food with the same bracha it is also exempt after the fact.
- If one originally intended to have an established meal then other foods with the same bracha are also exempt.
- For example, if someone was eating an apple and only had specific intention to eat that apple, if he wants another apple he doesn't need a new bracha. If he wants to then eat an orange he needs another bracha unless he didn't finish eating the apple.
- Food and drinks are independent when it comes to a person who didn't have something in mind specifically. Therefore, if someone made a bracha and then decide to have a drink with the same bracha or was drinking and then decided to have a food with the same bracha, it would not be included.
- Intention that is general and only covers the food because it came before one finished the first one doesn't doesn't work if the second food takes precedence in the laws of the order of brachot. Briefly, the order is for mezonot that the 5 grains come first and then the food one likes more; for haetz, shivat haminim comes first (in this order: olives, dates, grapes, figs, and pomegranates) and then the food one likes more; for all other brachot precedence depends on the food one likes more. According to most this applies to Sephardim as well.
- Regarding preparing oneself to make a bracha properly, see the Before_the_Bracha page.
- Shulchan Aruch 5:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu 6:1
- Mishna Brurah 5:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu 6:1
- Halacha Brurah 5:2. The Yerushalmi (Brachot 2:2) writes that it is forbidden to do any work while one is saying birkat hamazon. Ramban (Milchamot Brachot 9a) quotes it. Shulchan Aruch 191:3 codifies it as halacha. Taz 191:1 expands this to all brachot and mitzvot since it is considered like one is treating the bracha or mitzvah insignificantly. Even though the Mishna Brurah 63:19 asks on the Taz from the Shulchan Aruch 63:7 in 191 he seems to accept the Taz completely. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 6:1, Kaf Hachaim 191:5, Vezot Habracha (ch. 1 p. 11), Halacha Brurah 5:2 codify the Taz. The Pri Megadim M"Z 191:1 explains that the Taz holds that even though it is permitted to do work during birchot kriyat shema that it is because it is like learning unlike every other mitzvah which is forbidden to do work while doing the mitzvah.
- Vezot Habracha p. 11
- The Rif (Brachot 9b) clearly distinguishes between walking while saying kriyat shema which takes away one's intent and working while saying shema which degrades the shema. Therefore he writes that only the first pasuk needs intent but it is nonetheless it is forbidden to work for the whole first paragraph. Therefore, even after the Taz 191:1 expanded the prohibition to do any work during any bracha, it is nonetheless permitted to walk during a bracha. That is the conclusion of the Vezot Habracha (ch. 1 p. 11) from the Mishna Brurah. Nonetheless, he cites the Halichot Shlomo 22:5 who writes that it is preferable not to say brachot while walking.
- Shulchan Aruch 5:1 The Gra however, as quoted in Mishna Brurah 5:3, holds that one need not think about Hashem's existence throughout time when reciting Hashem's name because one need only concern himself with the pronunciation of the word he is reading--not the way it is written. However, even the Shulchan Aruch agrees that one need not think about Hashem's existence throughout time when Hashem's name is spelled "A-donai" (Mishna Brurah 5:3).
- Mishna Brurah 5:2
- Shulchan Aruch 5:1
- Or Litzion 2:1:18
- Rama Orach Chaim 206:5, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 206:37:1, Yalkut Yosef 206:22
- Mishna Brurah 211:32, Vezot Habracha p. 66, Peninei Halacha Brachot ch. 9
- Mishna Brurah 206:22, Vezot Habracha p. 66 based on the Magen Avraham 206:7
- Yalkut Yosef 206:22 and Or Letzion 2:14:16 based on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 206:5. See however, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 206:37:1 who writes that if one didn't intend for the food of the same type or another type with the same bracha while one was still eating the first food then once one finished eating anything else would require a new bracha. Peninei Halacha Brachot ch. 9 writes that even for Ashkenazim because of safek brachot lehakel it covers everything in the house with the same bracha and is similar, such as both are fruit but not something very different.
- Mishna Brurah 206:22, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 206:37:1, Yalkut Yosef 206:22, Vezot Habracha p. 66
- Mishna Brurah 206:22, Vezot Habracha p. 67
- Vezot Habracha p. 67
- Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 206:38:1 writes that drinks and food would not exempt one another with stam daat. Mishna Brurah 206:21 agrees. Vezot Habracha p. 69 writes this for Sephardim as well. However, Yalkut Yosef 206:22 writes that because of safek brachot lehakel one would not make a bracha in this case.
- Rama 211:5, Mishna Brurah 211:32, Vezot Habracha p. 68
- Vezot Habracha p. 68
- Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 206:39:1 argues that Shulchan Aruch disagrees with the Rama and doesn't distinguish. However, Or Letzion 2:14:16 follows the Rama in this case and would even require a new bracha when the second food is more significant in terms of the order of brachot. Yalkut Yosef 206:23 agrees and writes that someone who makes a new bracha in this case didn't lose out because he has what to rely upon to make a new bracha.