First, a little background information:

According to halakhah, there are two types of berakhoth: "long" and "short."

"Long" *berakhoth" are those that have a pethihah ("opening", i.e. "Barukh Atah HaShem Elohenu Melekh Ha-Olam...", a somewhat extended "middle" section, and then end with a hathimah ("ending", i.e. "...Barukh Atah HaShem _____________"). Another type of "long" berakhah is called samukhah le-haverta ("relying on its neighbor") and does not itself have a pethihah, but "relies" as it were on the opening of the berakhah that was said directly before it.

"Short" berakhoth consist of a pethihah only, like the berakhoth recited before eating, drinking, misswoth, etc.

[The Rambam discusses these issues in the following sections: Hilkhoth Qiryath Shema 1:8; Hilkhoth Berakhoth 1:15.]

In the halakhoth regarding the shemoneh esrei, it states that one must have kawwanah during the first berakhah of the prayer or he must return to the beginning. However, if one has proper kawwanah during the first blessing and then subsequently loses his kawwanah at any other time in the prayer, he does not have to return to the beginning and is still yosse yedhei hovatho. [See Rambam, Hilkhoth Tefillah 10:1]

The Rambam also mentions that if someone mistakenly says the incorrect berakhoth for Qiryath Shema (i.e. night ones during the day or vice-versa), they fulfill their obligation as long as the hathimah is the correct hathimah. This is true because of the principle that says, "She-kol ha-berakhoth holkhoth aharei hathimathan - For all blessings are determined by their hathimah" (See Hilkhoth Qiryath Shema 1:9[8]).

Now for my question:

If someone is beginning to pray the shemoneh esrei and says the pethihah of the first berakhah with proper kawannah and then, during the middle section has stray thoughts or loses kawwanah, but then regains his clear mind and kawwanah during the hathimah - does he need to begin again? Or does his concentration during the hathimah suffice since that is how all berakhoth are reckoned?

[NOTE: I recognize that there are shittoth (usually associated with the commentators on the Tur and Shulhan Arukh) that hold that no one is capable of proper kawwanah in our times, and so this question is essentially moot. However, I am assuming here that what the gemara and the Rambam say on this matter still applies. Thanks.]

  • Your question is still a little confusing - did they say all the words with kavanah or not? did they start normally, drift, and then catch themselves just in time to say the chatimah, but didn't go back to reread words they had said absent-mindedly? – Isaac Kotlicky Jul 16 '15 at 16:14
  • Your question is still interesting as a theoretical accd to those opinions. I don't know why you have to assume either way in that discussion. – Double AA Sep 24 '15 at 5:25

Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 185:2, English) discusses having kavana when saying brochos, and equates the first brocha of shemoneh esrei with any other brocha that has a pesichah and a chasimah.


  • One must have kavana when saying the pesichah and chasimah of the first berachah. If he did not have kavanah by any one of them, he must repeat the Shemoneh Esrei.
  • One should l'chatchila have kavanah when saying the middle part of the berachah. If, however, he did not, it is not necessary to repeat the Shemoneh Esrei.
  • The OP was specifically asking according to the opinion of Rambam (Hilkhot Tefillah 10:1). The view you reference does not seem to be in accordance with this, and accordingly, is not an answer. – mevaqesh Apr 24 '17 at 4:50
  • @mevaqesh He's asking according to the Rambam's view (as opposed to the Tur's view) that if one did not have proper kavana while saying the first beracha, he must repeat the shemoneh esreh. In any case, the Rambam doesn't discuss what qualifies as having kavanah; my answer brings a source which discusses what qualifies as having kavanah. – Ploni Apr 24 '17 at 5:01
  • "namely that one must have kavana - even b'dieved" What does it mean that kavanah is required even b'diavad, if "He does not need to repeat the shemoneh esrei"? – mevaqesh Apr 24 '17 at 5:05
  • @mevaqesh "He does not need to repeat the shemoneh esrei" was directly answering the OP's question. The question was in a case where one had kavanah when saying the pesichah, but then his mind wandered off in the middle of the berachah. The finishing part of the sentence "namely that one must have kavana - even b'dieved" is "only when saying the pesichah and chasimah". – Ploni Apr 24 '17 at 5:12
  • Do you mean that if he had kavanah in neither the petiha or the hatima that he would need to repeat the Amidah? Something else? Regardless consider clarifying things in the post itself, not the comments. – mevaqesh Apr 24 '17 at 5:15

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