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9

Sources that support Shukeling: Mishna Berura (95:7), Magen Giborim, Zohar (Pinhas), Baal HaTurim, Kuzari, Rama (Orach Chaim 48), Keneset HaGedola (Siman 95), Menorat HaMaor (3:3:12), Sefer Hasidim (Siman 57), Peri Hadash (Siman 95). Sources that don't support/against Shukeling: Teshuvot HaRama' (Siman 113), Hida, Rabbi Yisrael Seruk, Derech Haim (115b), ...


9

The goal is concentration and that takes awareness and work. Some people naturally read slower but for many, it isn't a matter of reading as it is of focusing. The prayer isn't a race but a chance to connect with the divine -- it shouldn't be the goal to get through it as quick as possible -- that should be the opposite of the desired experience. It isn't ...


9

According to this collection of notes on the siddur arranged by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi -- http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=30450&st=&pgnum=122 -- the source is Pri Eitz Hayyim, Sha'ar Olam Ha-Assiyah, end of perek alef, which was then mentioned by the Magen Avraham, beginning of siman mem vav. Pri Eitz Hayyim is a book by Rabbi ...


8

http://www.chabadyavne.com/contents.asp?fid=82&av=2327 The Piskei Teshuvos 61:5 mentions from the Arizal that the hand has to actually cover the eyes. However the Kloizenberger Rebbe Zatzal held that you may just cover the glasses with your hand. In Chabad they lift the glasses and place the hand on the eyes.


8

A few ideas that help me: Be the shaliach tzibbur. Your mind requires more focus and this spills over into kavana. Although many say it is praiseworthy to stand during chazaras hashatz and krias hatorah, I find that sitting helps me follow along better. Do not try to do this if you took my previous advice of being the shaliach tzibbur! I have a gemara ...


7

It is not permitted to daven in front of any picture or mirror, much less a picture of Avodah Zarah. Article on this. A quote from this article: Bowing to any picture can raise the specter of avoda zara. Many poskim forbid images of animals in a shul (see above) particularly on the wall toward which people bow. It is also forbidden to daven facing a ...


6

In genenral, Sha'ar Hakavanos says that the set of blowings before sh'mone esre is an appropriate time to verbally admit one's sins and that the Ariza"l would do so while crying. This fits with the many mentions it makes of the relationship between sleep, awakening, and the shofar. Our lack of cognizance of our own actions and their ramifications is like ...


6

We learn from Chana not to raise our voices for tefillah. (One reason given is that we imply that Hashem canot hear us otherwise.) See, for example, Aruch haShulchan 101:2. Shema is not tefillah, it is a declaration.


6

Personally speaking I find several things helpful in inspiring oneself before tefilla: Poetry often works, if one concentrates on its simultaneous meaning and eloquence. My favorites are Adon Olam by Ibn Gabirol (found at the beginning of almost any siddur), and Odeh La'El by R' Shemayahu (found in some siddurim in the "Seudah Shlishit" section). To each ...


6

Mishnah Berurah (98:1) cites Eliyah Rabbah, who in turn cites Kitzur Shaloh, that "a segulah for removing extraneous thoughts is, before praying, to pass one's right hand three times across his forehead, and each time, say the verse לב טהור ברא לי אלקים ורוח נכון חדש בקרבי (Ps. 51:12)." However, kavanah involves more than just removing distracting thoughts; ...


5

While saying this paragraph [Ana Bechoach], one should look at - or envisage - the Sheimos (Divine Names) formed by the acronyms of its words, but one should not pronounce them. http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/sefer-haminhagim/28.htm#t206


5

I rarely lacked concentration when reading something in English. When I have, it has easily come back by reading the same passage over again. The only thing I can think of, is that you actually understand and make sure you translate each word you say into your mind. When I have done that during davening, I have also never lacked conentration. The hard part ...


5

My rabbi told me a very nice suggestion which seems to help me every time I practice it and it's very simple: Follow along with your finger. If you have your finger below every word that you say, it will make you have to look at the page that you're reading from causing you to slow down and think about the words that you are saying. Even if you don't ...


5

From dinonline.org It is permitted to repeat words of davening for added intent in prayer. However, there is a virtue of having full intent the first time, and not repeating words. One can certainly say the word, and then reflect on its meaning, without saying it again. Sources: The Mishnah (Berachos 33b) writes that one who says “modim, modim” ...


4

I remember hearing a story about the six day war when the Kosel was recaptured by the Israeli army and some people went for the first time in years. There was a soldier there crying. His friend who was with him asked him why is he crying. He answered "Ani Boche Al Ze Sheaini Yodea Al Ma Livkot" I am crying since I do not know why to cry.


4

The question I believe can be broken rephrased into the following 2 questions. How does one understand the prayers rather than just know what they mean? How much understanding is needed when saying the prayers? The answer to the first question is really very simple. One has to study the tefilot outside of shul and prayer. Learn the history of the ...


4

Two things have proven effective for me over the years in this regard: Davening near/behind people who are more into it than me. This is inspirational not for competitive reasons but because it provides constant reminders that if I fall behind in my concentration I am missing out - for, as the other individual demonstrates, there is something to be missed. ...


4

Perhaps pictures pertaining to the particulars of each b'racha could help! Someone has compiled a chart of such pictures here, but I imagine one could compile one's own. I have never tried this, but multiple modalities often produce multiple (and therefore stronger) associations to concepts, which could improve concentration.


4

Take a minute to clear your mind and try to fee the presence of Hashem all around you. Daven to Hashem to help you daven with Kavanah Every time you catch your mind straying, ask for Hashem's help again Keep reminding yourself that Hashem and all the Heavenly hosts are counting on you. Keep your fingers on the place. Learn the meaning of what you are saying ...


4

Following the exact question "How do you improve your concentration when davening?" I would suggest that the main effort at improvement of kavanah should be done before davening. Learning be'ur t'fillah and eventually learning seforim that teach the inner dimensions of the words we use in t'fillah is important. Spending time before davening to gather ...


4

I don't believe it says anywhere that you have to put your hand over your eyes. "(They) are accustomed to pace their hands over their face when reading the 1st pasuk so that one won't stare at anything else that will deter him from concentrating." (SA OC 61:5) It isn't clear from the Shulchan Aruch whether it is 1 hand or both. Although the source for ...


4

The Ben Yehoyada interprets the whole thing as a metaphor: The heart is like metal. If the heart is full of fear, which comes from the element of fire*, a "hammer" is able to affect it (it's well-known that hammers are used in welding). So this doesn't literally mean to hit him with a hammer. This "hammer" is really something that "moves the ashes" of a ...


4

Apart from the sources in paquda's answer, the Chayei Adam (1:6) also says that you should accept upon yourself to love every Jew in order to be included as part of the group of all of Israel.


4

As mentioned in the comments, the Mishnah is just talking about one who reads the megillah. Someone who is falling asleep while listening will not be able to hear every word. The Shulchan Aruch is clear on this: קראה מתנמנם, הואיל ולא נרדם בשינה, יצא. אבל אם שמעה מתנמנם, לא יצא.‏ This still doesn't answer the question of how much focus you need to ...


3

Nowadays, I do think the general rule mentioned in the question still applies. Especially in America, we learn tefillah by rote, because we memorize all the words of tefillah before we speak Hebrew fluently. We therefore have years of practice with lack of havana, and so certainly no kavana. And the length of all of davening decreases the likelihood of true ...


3

The book: A call to the Infinite is full of many quotes that one might want to read,say before davening to inspire them to daven. Also, the book Kuzari, is said by R. Kook to be the essence of learning true Emunah in Hashem. (Completely unrelated to the "Kuzari proof") The book likely has many passages that one can read regarding the special connection ...


3

Sometimes, (when I'm feeling particularly not into it,) I pause before I begin every beracha of amida and ask myself: Do I want to say this beracha? Why do I want to say this beracha? Helps me a lot, and I hope it can help others too.


3

Without checking sources: Psukei DeZimra (the psalms and passages from Baruch SheAmar to Yishtabach, before Shema) should be recited slowly, as though one were counting money. Try to pronounce each word separately (in a low whisper), with a pause after each verse. Don't stretch the words out, but savor them (like good wine). The same applies to Shema, and to ...


3

The Rama (OC 553:2) writes that one should not לטייל = "take pleasure strolls" even on Erev Tisha b"Av that falls on Shabbat; how much more so must one avoid extraneous activity on Tisha b'Av itself! The Biur Halacha there quoting the Ma'amar Mordechai drives this point home: ואי לאו דמיסתפינא מחברייא הו"א דאפילו ביום ט"ב עצמו היה לנו להקל דבעוה"ר ...


2

Shema is said aloud in unison and you do not disturb others when you do it, however if everyone was saying their part of Shemona Esrei out loud there would be no way to concetrate. In addition at Shemona Esrei we request personal requests, which is different by everyone and would be quiet confusing (and maybe a bit uncomfortable) if said out loud.



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