Kavanah whilst Davening

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In general, when performing a mitzvah one must have intent to fulfill that mitzvah (See Having Kavana for Mitzvot). Additionally, since one is reciting brachot when davening one must also ensure to have the right kavanah when reciting each brachah see Kavana During Brachot.

There are specific additional kavanot (intentions) one should have that are unique to davening:

Proper Frame of Mind for Davening

See also: Simcha (Happiness)

  1. One should not pray while one is in the state of sadness.[1]
  2. One should not begin to daven while in a state of laughter and levity; rather, one should enter davening with a state of seriousness ("koved rosh").
  3. One should begin to pray with a sense of happiness in fulfilling the mitzva one is about to fulfill, similar to the joy one experiences when one is involved in the study and pursuit of Torah knowledge. This is why we recite Pesukei DeZimrah and Ashrei (words of Torah) before beginning Shacharit and Mincha.[2]

Bringing the Proper "Korban"

  1. Chazal emphasize that quality of intent is more important than quantity with regards to korbanot. In chazal's language, "regardless of whether one brings a large korban or a small one it is equally acceptable, as long as one's intentions are for heaven."[3] The same idea applies to Tefillah.[4]
  2. Accordingly, if one can pray a lot or a little and either way will be with kavana, clearly it is better to pray more. However if there are extenuating circumstance and it is not possible to pray a lot with kavana or one fears that if one prays more he will probably pray without kavana, he should pray less with kavana rather than more without kavana. In that situation davening less is considered before Hashem as if one prayed a lot with kavana.[5]

See also


  1. Ben Ish Chai (Parshat Miketz, 5)
  2. Tosfot 31a s.v. Rabanan
  3. Menachot 110a
  4. Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 1:4 write that it is preferable to pray a little with Kavana than to pray a lot without kavana.
  5. Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 1:4 write that it is preferable to pray a little with Kavana than to pray a lot without Kavana. Mishna Brurah 1:12 writes that clearly it is preferable to pray more with kavana than to pray less with kavanah, however, the Shulchan Aruch is talking about a case where such is not possible. Halacha Brurah 1:11 concurs.