In Rabbi Donin's book, To Pray As A Jew, he says that reading a prayer book to find out what it says, or to relish its beauty of poetry, does not qualify as prayer. He says that to transform reading into prayer, there must be at least a sense of standing in the presence of G-d and the intent to fulfill one of His commandments. He called this "intent" kavanah.

Rabbi Donin states in his book that there are ascending levels of kavanah, each one a greater challenge to the worshiper. I want to know what those different levels are.

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    Shira, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! I hope you get great answers, and that you also look around and find other material of interest, perhaps starting with some of our 45 other kavana-concentration questions. I took the liberty of editing out the salutation at the end of your post, consistent with our standard Q&A style.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 28, 2015 at 14:37
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    I see from the blog linked in your profile that studying this book is part of a quest to increase your knowledge of Judaism. I wish you all the success in the world in your quest, and I encourage you to continue bringing questions that come up as you learn to Mi Yodeya!
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 28, 2015 at 14:53

2 Answers 2


Rabbi Adin Steinsalz in his Sefer Hasidur V'Hatefila - page 38 says there are three levels in Kavana.

1 - Is to understand the meaning of the words one is saying (Orach Chaim 98:1).

2 - To identify with the words being said.

3 - Understanding the hidden meaning על דרך תורת הסוד והנסתר (literally, in the way of the instruction of the secret and the hidden).


Reb Chaim Soloveitchik in his Chiddushim to the Rambam, Hilchos Tefillah 4:16, writes that there are two types of Kavana. The primary kavana is to be aware that you are standing before G-d. The second is to understand the meaning of the words.

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