July 15, 2018 6:43 pm at 6:43 pm #1557730
#Rebchaim #02 part 1 version 2 6/10/18
Objective: To explain the stirah in Rambams about kavana while davening
One-sentence summary: Reb Chaim answers a stira in Rambams about kavana while davening by saying you need intent of standing before the King throughout, but only need the meaning of the words for the first bracha of shemona esrei.
Mareh makom: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=39831&st=&pgnum=7=
Reb Chaim quotes the Rambam in hilchos tefila (4:1) that you need to have kavana (intent) when you daven. If you don’t, you need to daven over again. If your mind is preoccupied you are not allowed to daven. Reb Chaim understands that to be referring to the entire tefillah, not just the first bracha.
The problem is that later in ch.10 the Rambam says you only need kavana by the first bracha. This contradicts the implication of the first Rambam. (He will later say this second Rambam is based on brachos daf 34)
Reb Chaim answers with his classic “Two dinim”. The first Rambam is talking about a low-level kavana, basic knowledge that you’re standing in front of the King. (Rambam says this elsewhere explicitly in Ch. 4) Reb Chaim says that’s not even realtefila-specific kavana. That’s just the basic ingredient in davening and all mitzvos, without which you’re not even davening- you’re just randomly moving (“misaseik”). This basic knowledge that you’re standing in front of the King is required for all brachos, not just the first. The second Rambam is talking about the meaning of the words, a high-level davening-specific kavana. For that, the first bracha alone is enough.
He then adds an additional wrinkle- there is another kavana that isn’t the meaning of the words, namely the kavana that you’re doing a mitzvah, like you need by every mitzvah since mitzvos need kavana. So if you don’t have knowledge that you are standing in front of the King, you lack both the fundamental knowledge that transforms your action from randomly moving into tefilla and the basic kavana needed for a mitzvah. But if you have both of them, you only need the third type of kavana- the meaning of the words, for the first bracha.
V. To reiterate, the basic or low-level kavanah isn’t specific to davening. By all mitzvos, you need knowledge that you are doing something related to the mitzvah and want to do the mitzvah. Meaning of words, the high-level kavanah, is specifically related to davening. This will tie into part II.July 15, 2018 7:52 pm at 7:52 pm #1558192
How is this Teyrah affected if you daven in a language other than loshon kodesh?July 16, 2018 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm #1559325
Interesting shaila, though you can repeat words in a language you know and it still has no meaning. There are many popular phrases that have completely lost their meaning. You can say “let the cat out of the bag” or “close but no cigar” without understanding its meaning.
This is one of the most famous shtiklach of Reb Chaim, btw.
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