I recently purchased a siddur for my son who has autism called siddur lakol (see below link to digital version). It uses symbols instead of words for each word.


I started using it myself and found that it really helped me with my kavono if I used it for specific parts eg 1st beracha of shemoneh esrei and morning berachos.

It helps me to such an extent that for the first beracha of shemoneh esrei with other siddurim I don't have kavono on every word around 25% of the time (at least) whereas for this siddur I always do.

Last shabbos I had the siddur in front of me for amida but forgot to use it and as a result didn't have kavono for the first beracha. I realised this in the middle of shemoneh esrei.

I learnt that we normally say you don't go back since normally there is no reason why you should have kavono the second time if you didn't the first.

Does the knowledge that I have a prop which would almost certainly guarantee my kavona I obligate me to go back to the beginning of the shemoneh Esrei?

If I am on my way to shul am and haven't got this siddur with me am I obligated to go home and get it even if it makes me 5 minutes late for shul?

  • Special dispensations for kavana are very real but can quickly get out of hand (eg. "I have better kavana if I sleep till noon") as traditional Jews quickly pointed out to the burgeoning bizarre chasidic movements. If you honestly feel it may be appropriate for you then work with a personal rabbi who knows you well and can help guide you.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 21 at 14:19
  • Dear double AA, I don't think you can compare sleeping until noon to using a different kind of siddur. Sleeping until noon has obvious down sides both halachically and practically. However using a different siddur that happens to be in an unconventional format has no negative downsides that I can think of. Can you?
    – B First
    Commented May 22 at 12:07
  • Not that, but "makes me 5 minutes late for shul" can quickly become 45 minutes late
    – Double AA
    Commented May 22 at 12:14
  • @DoubleAA I think you're missing the point. The question isn't about which methods for increasing kavana are justified, but whether there are exceptions to the rule that we don't repeat the first bracha(s) for lack of kavana.
    – shmosel
    Commented May 22 at 18:17
  • @shmosel that would literally be a special dispensation for increased kavana.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 22 at 18:25

1 Answer 1



The Ramah in Shulchan Aruch (referenced below) says one cannot go back to repeat the blessings of Avos that one didn't have kavana for. There's no distinction of the individual person is confident that he will have kavana a second time

(Even without a special siddur if one realized one didn't have kavana and now wants to go back, it stands to reason that he would try to have kavana the second time, but we still do not allow him to do so)

There are other ways to "make up" for the lost kavana without repeating the brochos, as this article details:

If in the middle of Shmoneh Esrei one realizes that he did not have kavana during Avos, is there any way that he can still fulfill his obligation of having kavana in tefilla?

The Beiur Halacha (OC 101 s.v. veha’idna) suggests that in this case one should silently wait and listen to the Shliach Tzibur’s repetition of Shmoneh Esrei until the place he reached in Shmoneh Esrei and then recite the rest on his own. Although the Shliach Tzibur in our time cannot recite Shmoneh Esrei for someone who is able to daven on his own, in this situation the Shliach Tzibur can be motzi him with the tefilla. The reason for this is as follows: The Rama (OC 101:1), in the name of the Tur, rules that we do not allow a person who has not concentrated in Avos to repeat this bracha. Thus, this person now has the status of someone who cannot daven on his own, and therefore the Shliach Tzibur can be motzi him. According to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l this psak of the Beiur Halacha has not been accepted as normative halacha (Halichos Shlomo, p. 100 in Dvar Halacha 12).

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l (Halichos Shlomo 8:9, pp. 99-100) quotes another solution in the name of the Chazon Ish. One should return to the place in Shmoneh Esrei where his mind wandered and now with concentration recite in his mind only until the place he is up to in Shmoneh Esrei. According to the Chazon Ish, “his kavana will now join with his previous words,” and this is not considered to be davening without words (ibid., p. 100 Dvar Halacha 12).

Rav Shlomo Zalman continues and states that he “should also try very hard to concentrate well in Modim because it is proper to do whatever he can to correct the situation.” The Dvar Halacha (ibid. 13) explains that although the opinion of the Rokeach that if one concentrated only in Modim one is yotzei, is not quoted in Shulchan Aruch as normative halacha, in this situation we should follow his practice. Since we do not have the option of repeating Shmoneh Esrei when kavana was lacking in Avos, we should at least fulfill tefilla b’dieved according to the Rokeach. This together with the Chazon Ish’s solution mentioned above is the best way to salvage our tefilla.

  • Actually, the Rama says והאידנא אין חוזרין בשביל חסרון כוונה שאף בחזרה קרוב הוא שלא יכוין אם כן למה יחזור which is "we don't go back" not "we cannot go back".
    – Double AA
    Commented May 21 at 14:21
  • @DoubleAA there's no difference. The psak is that we don't go back, therefore we can't go against the psak to go back against halacha, so we can't go back. The ou Rabbi who wrote the article, as well as the numerous teshuvos he referenced on the subject, which reference the Ramah, know better than anyone else on this platform Commented May 21 at 15:35
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    The OU rabbi who wrote the article did not address whether or not the psak changes if the person has a specific reason to think they will have more kavana the second time. Additionally, how do you know that nobody here has more knowledge than this OU rabbi?
    – Esther
    Commented May 21 at 20:12
  • @Esther the person asking the question is asking to see if one who realized can go back with kavana. When one goes back with an expectation to have more kavana, that is a specific reason to think he'll have more kavana, but the psak is still the psak. Commented May 21 at 21:40
  • Awtsmoos, in the case of someone going back just because he realised there is no concrete reason why he should have kavona - practically nothing has changed. Whereas in my case with the siddur I know that I have a 100% record of word for word kavono with it so there is a much stronger argument to say that the situation has now changed - (once I actually remember to use the siddur which I obviously will do). Also the Chayei Odom says in 24:2 the reason is that korov hadavor that the second time he will not have kavanna -surely in my case its not korov hadavor.
    – B First
    Commented May 22 at 12:20

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