Kavvanah & Intention

The role of Kavvanah in Jewish liturgy.

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A somewhat different type of mystical "intentions" is found in the very popular manual of devotion called Yesod Ve-Shoresh Ha-Avodah (The Foun­dation and Root of Divine Worship) by Alexan­der Süsskind of Grodno (d. 1793). Alexander's "intentions" are directed to the deeper meaning of the prayers in which the liturgy is used, in Alexander's words, "to enflame the heart in the service of God." For instance, in his comment on the quotation in the Prayer Book of Psalm 30:3, Alexander gives this intention:

For example, when a man has suffered some pain or has been sick. God save us, or when, God forbid, such has happened to a member of his family and, with God's help he has been healed, then when he recites the verse: "I cried unto Thee, and Thou didst heal me," he should give thanks and offer praise, with full concentration, to the Creator, blessed be He, who has sent him or his family healing from that pain or illness. God save us.

This type of "intention" is found at the foot of each page in some of the older prayer books.

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Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.