I want to davven- but my mind goes elsewhere. Any advice for girls/women like me with ADD? Can I talk to Hashem straight? although I know the meaning of the words and am fluent in reading I cant really relate to them enough to stop me travelling all over the place while saying them... please help

  • Recall that users of this site don't know you and can't offer you personal advice. Everything you learn in the answers below is general and should be taken to discussions with your own rabbi and/or doctor, whose advice you should take.
    – msh210
    Dec 18, 2016 at 14:46
  • you can read and learn Tefila with cavana out of the time of Tefila, it is also a great thing.
    – kouty
    Dec 18, 2016 at 15:39
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    – mevaqesh
    Dec 18, 2016 at 17:18
  • I would strongly encourage rabbibical dvice on this, preferably from someone who knows you well. The rabbi may also need medical advice to put the pieces together. Aside from this, there may be two sides to this issue. You may be an "ones" who is exempt from tefillah, in general. If not, you can probably fall under the opinion that mitzvot lo tzrichot kavanah which is one opinion regarding tefillah in general. There is a stricter ruling regarding parts of Shema.
    – DanF
    Dec 18, 2016 at 20:24
  • Any reason you limit your question to girls/women, and not anyone with ADD?
    – Scimonster
    Dec 18, 2016 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


This is a very challenging question. As others have mentioned you should ask your Posek to guide you. However, I would like to share some thoughts for you to consider.

First of all it is important to identify what is actually considered the prayer that you would have to focus on to fulfill your minimum requirements of prayer. In terms of your basic prayer obligation the Shmoneh Esreh is the central obligation. The Pesukei Dezimrah are preliminaries that help put you in the proper framework to pray. The Shema is a separate daily Torah obligation to recite those verses. So without utilizing any of the other blessings in Shachrit, the morning service, to fulfill ones obligation, the Shmoneh Esreh is going to be the main way you fulfill your obligation. I can give you more detail if necessary, but my main point is to try to limit what you actually would need to focus on to fulfill the basic obligation.

According to the Rambam in the laws of Prayer Chapter 4, Law 1(as understood by Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, see below) one need only have intent that they are standing before God in prayer for the blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh to fulfill the minimum obligation of Prayer with the exception of the first blessing. With regard to the first blessing of the Shmoneh Esreh one must have concentration of Peirush Hamilim, the concentration on the meaning of the words.

So if you could practice really focusing your attention on the first blessing to focus on the meaning of the words, you would be in good shape. The rest of the prayer, you would just need to try and be aware that you are standing before God. If you find your mind wandering for a moment, just pull back and consider that you are standing before God. By the way, this is a challenge that I believe all people goes through, regardless of ADD or not. It just may be an even bigger challenge for you to address.

Some times ADD can be a result of ones mind moving so fast that the persons mind is thinking about many things and moves faster than what their body or lips can do. Learning to slow things down in your head can help.

My response to you above is not to solve your challenge, however, I am attempting to at least minimize the challenge to a more manageable piece that you may be able to strive for.

Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik’s Essay on Chapter 4, Halacha 1 Translation by Jonathan Eskreis-Winkler
It appears correct to say that there are two types of kavannah in t’fillah. The first type is a kavannah of the words’ explanation, and its basis is from the law of kavannah. The second type is a kavannah that he should be m’kavven that he stands in t’fillah before G-d. As it is explained in his (Maimonides’) words in the fourth chapter: “What is kavannah? That he should direct his heart from all thoughts and see himself as if stands before the shechinah (presence of G-d).” And it seems that this kavannah is not from an aspect of the actual principle of kavannah, but rather it is just the definitive act of t’fillah, and if his heart (mind) is not free, and if he does not see himself as if he is standing before G-d

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