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July 25, 2018 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm #1565193
#Rebchaim #02 part 2 version 1 6/10/18
Objective: To explain why the lower-level ”stand in front of the king” kavana has more restrictions than the higher-level “meaning of words” kavana
One-sentence summary: The lower-level kavana is more restrictive because that’s for doing a mitzvah deoraysa but the higher-level kavana is just for the derabanan aspect of davening so we’re more meikel.
Mareh makom: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=39831&st=&pgnum=8
We have previously explained in part 1 that there are two types of kavana levels. Rambam in Chapter 4, which implies you need kavana throughout davening, is talking about a lower level kavana of standing in front of the King and knowledge that you are doing a mitzvah. This kavanah is intrinsic to all mitzvos and isn’t specific to davening. In chapter 10, the Rambam is talking about the specific davening kavanah of the meaning of words. For that, just having that kavana for the first bracha is enough.
Reb Chaim notices that in Ch. 4, which is (as per Reb Chaim) about the lower, general kavana of standing in front of the king and the kavana of doing a mitzvah and isn’t specific to davening, the Rambam mentions 3 halachos:
A. If you don’t have this kavana it’s not a tefilla
B. If you can’t focus on davening you shouldn’t daven
C. If you davened without kavana you should daven again
However, in Chapter 10, which is about the davening specific kavana of the meaning of the words, the Rambam only says point C. if you daven without kavana you should daven again. However, he doesn’t say A. it’s not a tefilla and doesn’t say B. You shouldn’t daven if you can’t focus. Why is that?
Reb Chaim answers that the lower level kavana of standing in front of the King and doing a mitzvah is common for all mitzvos and is therefore an absolute requirement prerequisite. Without this kavana, it’s not a tefilla and you shouldn’t daven if you can’t have it. However, the higher-level kavana of the meaning of the words is only for Shemona Esrei. As such, we’re not so strict on davening without it to say you shouldn’t daven at all and it’s not a tefilla if you daven without kavana. Reb Chaim says this chiluk would be true even if we didn’t have a deeper reason to make this chiluk, based on the fact that the kavanos are different types of requirements.
Reb Chaim now offers a deeper reason to make this chiluk. According to the Rambam, the chiyuv to daven is mideoraysa. As such, it is like any mitzvah in the Torah and the requirements are very strict. If you can’t focus, you can’t daven. If you daven without this kavana, it’s not a tefilla at all. However, the actual shemona esrei text itself is just miderabbanan, as well as the requirement to focus on the meaning of the words. As such, as long as you can fulfill the deoraysa requirement of kavana, you should daven even if it means repeating Shemona Esrei. In addition, it would still be called tefilla. This in contrast to lacking the lower level absolute prerequisite “standing in front of the King” kavana, without which it’s not a tefilla and you shouldn’t even bother davening if you can’t have this level of kavana.
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