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I once heard a story about the Kotzker Rebbe that went something like this:
A man came to the Rebbe with an urgent request. He had been to many other rabbonim and Rebbes, and begged them to prescribe a penance that he could do for a terrible thing he had done (not described in the story). All of them had refused, saying they could not even imagine anything they could prescribe for something like that.
Broken, he begged the Rebbe to help him. Finally, the Rebbe told him: From now and for the rest of your life, you will not say a single word of prayer that is not said with full and complete kavannah (concentration and devotion).
Does anyone have a source for this story and accurate details?

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  • I do find the story fascinating, because (aside from it's clearly way beyond what most of us could ever do) I have trouble imagining what I would do to even try to do it. Go to minyan, but skip everything except for a few carefully chosen prayers? It would take careful planning, really. Is it really an upgrade?
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:20
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    you will not say a single word of prayer that is not said with full and complete kavannah can be read as say every single word with full kavannah. Why are you assuming it implies skipping prayers?
    – shmosel
    Commented Jun 10 at 19:03
  • @shmosel Dunno. Could I sit there for literally most of the day and say every word of every prayer with kavannah? Maybe it would be for "the rest of your life" because I wouldn't last long!
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jun 10 at 21:47
  • Then it's fortunate you didn't do what that fellow did.
    – shmosel
    Commented Jun 10 at 21:57
  • @shmosel I understand. But there are things that I can't do even if I really really need to. They just wouldn't work. It doesn't matter how important it is for me to jump over a skyscraper. Whereas I think I maybe could make a blanket rule that I'm only going to say what I can say, slowly and carefully, and skip the rest.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jun 10 at 22:46

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