12

I was a major sufferer of the problem you describe, and to be honest, I have not completely cured myself of this; however, there are a few things that I have done recently that have made a huge difference in my level of focus during davening. I think it is important to remember, though, that there is no quick fix to this challenge. As you mentioned in a ...


11

Sources that support Shukeling: Mishna Berura (95:7), Magen Giborim, Zohar (Pinhas), Baal HaTurim, Kuzari, Rama (Orach Chaim 48), Keneset HaGedola (Siman 95), Menorat HaMaor (3:3:12), Sefer Hasidim (Siman 57), Peri Hadash (Siman 95). Sources that don't support/against Shukeling: Teshuvot HaRama' (Siman 113), Hida, Rabbi Yisrael Seruk, Derech Haim (115b), ...


11

According to this collection of notes on the siddur arranged by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi -- http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=30450&st=&pgnum=122 -- the source is Pri Eitz Hayyim, Sha'ar Olam Ha-Assiyah, end of perek alef, which was then mentioned by the Magen Avraham, beginning of siman mem vav. Pri Eitz Hayyim is a book by Rabbi ...


10

The goal is concentration and that takes awareness and work. Some people naturally read slower but for many, it isn't a matter of reading as it is of focusing. The prayer isn't a race but a chance to connect with the divine -- it shouldn't be the goal to get through it as quick as possible -- that should be the opposite of the desired experience. It isn't ...


9

A few ideas that help me: Be the shaliach tzibbur. Your mind requires more focus and this spills over into kavana. Although many say it is praiseworthy to stand during chazaras hashatz and krias hatorah, I find that sitting helps me follow along better. Do not try to do this if you took my previous advice of being the shaliach tzibbur! I have a gemara ...


9

The source is Rabbeinu Yona Brachos 32a, in the name of the Geoinim. This is brought in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 51:7 The Mishna Brurah there (:16) says it means to say from that posuk until the end of the chapter. Shulchan Aruch HaRav (51:8) implies that saying the single verse is enough. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (14:2) implies that the single verse is ...


9

Someone recently sent me a screenshot of a sefer. I have paraphrased it: Someone had apparently asked הרה״ג רבי יצחק זילברשטיין שליט״א if he is allowed to use the "spinner" during Shemona Esrei since it is hard for him to concentrate, and according to the researchers he will be more successful at concentrating during the Tefilah. רבי יצחק זילברשטיין ...


8

This is a great question that touches on an area that is so fundamental. Before mentioning any specific technique that has worked for me, I'd like to share a perspective that has significantly boosted my Tefilla. People use the expression "the elephant in the room." In Tefilla, I felt that for a long time I had been missing the "God in the room." ...


8

From dinonline.org It is permitted to repeat words of davening for added intent in prayer. However, there is a virtue of having full intent the first time, and not repeating words. One can certainly say the word, and then reflect on its meaning, without saying it again. Sources: The Mishnah (Berachos 33b) writes that one who says “modim, modim” ...


8

According to My Rav Say Elokai Neshama, Bircat HaTorah, and Bircat HaShachar Say Baruch She'Amar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach If you can put on tallit and tefillin, and say just the above passages, in the time that it takes the rest of the minyan to say all of Psukei D'Zimra, then it's better to do so, in order to pray with a minyan. This is assuming that ...


8

Kiddushin 40a מחשבה טובה מצרפה למעשה שנאמר אז נדברו יראי ה' איש אל רעהו ויקשב ה' וישמע ויכתב ספר זכרון לפניו ליראי ה' ולחושבי שמו מאי ולחושבי שמו אמר רב אסי אפילו חשב אדם לעשות מצוה ונאנס ולא עשאה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עשאה Good intention is combined with deed, for it is said: Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with another: and the Lord hearkened, ...


7

I experienced a significant improvement in my focus on davening when I discovered that it is halachically preferable to omit much of davening in order to better focus on a smaller part. The Mishna Brurah (1:12; see also Aruch HaShulchan 51:9) writes : "...if a person assesses that saying more will impinge on his concentration, and he [therefore] shortens ...


7

It is not permitted to daven in front of any picture or mirror, much less a picture of Avodah Zarah. Article on this. A quote from this article: Bowing to any picture can raise the specter of avoda zara. Many poskim forbid images of animals in a shul (see above) particularly on the wall toward which people bow. It is also forbidden to daven facing a ...


7

The Rivevos Ephraim 6:410:1 brings the psak of Rav Eliyashiv that one may hold a child during bentching. In Chelek 8:572:1 he was asked to explain the psak of Rav Elyashiv how its ok since there are achronim who hold by pisukei dizimrah one cannot hold anything so certainly by a doraisa one would have to avoid such a thing. Rav Ephraim Greenblatt(Rivevos ...


6

http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/142/Q1/ Each person should do whatever would make him concentrate better. Both Shuckling and standing still, are legitimate ways of prayer.


6

While saying this paragraph [Ana Bechoach], one should look at - or envisage - the Sheimos (Divine Names) formed by the acronyms of its words, but one should not pronounce them. http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/sefer-haminhagim/28.htm#t206


6

I once heard someone ask Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam Zatzal of Bobov - what Kavanos one should have when he puts on his Tallis? He responded the main Kavana one should have is that he is not hitting the person beside him with the Tzitzis when he is wrapping himself in the Talis. Based on this I would say the Kavana one should have is not to hurt anyone nearby, ...


6

As mentioned in the comments, the Mishnah is just talking about one who reads the megillah. Someone who is falling asleep while listening will not be able to hear every word. The Shulchan Aruch is clear on this: קראה מתנמנם, הואיל ולא נרדם בשינה, יצא. אבל אם שמעה מתנמנם, לא יצא.‏ This still doesn't answer the question of how much focus you need to be ...


6

(Assuming that finding a slower Minyan is not an option, and that you are using the Ashkenazi/Chassidich version.) Take a 2-pronged approach: Prepare Don't plan on saying it all Prepare the shortest chapter of that day; very often it's the Pizmun - the one towards the end recited by the congregation and Chazzan. Spend a few minutes before Selichot (or ...


6

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)....


6

The word sechvi can mean a rooster or the heart. Just as God gave the rooster an understanding of the difference between day and night, we thank Him that He gave our heart the understanding that it is time to wake up and serve Him (based on Artscroll which cites the Rosh). The Chidushei HaRim (from here) explains it as a daily reminder that, just as HaShem ...


5

The meaning (translation, if you think in a language other than Hebrew) of the words.


5

I recently read an interview with a daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef ZT"L and during the interview she mentioned that her father Rav Ovadia always held a grandchild on his lap during bentching.


4

I read the following piece of advice in a pamphlet somewhere, and I tried it and it worked for me. Concentrate on the meaning of Hashem's name whenever it comes up. You can pick whichever meaning you want for it to work, although Halacha has an opinion about which one is the main one. There are two reasons why I think it works. One is that Hashem's name ...


4

I recently tried enunciating the letter ע more while davening. This makes you go slower, at least until you get so used to it. Then, once you're going slower and paying more attention to the words, you end up having better kavanah.


4

Culled from On the Mainline and OU. The explanation you provide for shokeling is that of R’ Schwab who writes: R’ Schwab on Prayer (page 167): There are two ways in which a person can relate to Hakodosh Baruch Hu. One is through ahava (love), in which a person feels very close to Him, and the other is through yirah (awe), in which one is awestruck by ...


4

The Rama (OC 553:2) writes that one should not לטייל = "take pleasure strolls" even on Erev Tisha b"Av that falls on Shabbat; how much more so must one avoid extraneous activity on Tisha b'Av itself! The Biur Halacha there quoting the Ma'amar Mordechai drives this point home: ואי לאו דמיסתפינא מחברייא הו"א דאפילו ביום ט"ב עצמו היה ...


4

The Ben Yehoyada interprets the whole thing as a metaphor: The heart is like metal. If the heart is full of fear, which comes from the element of fire*, a "hammer" is able to affect it (it's well-known that hammers are used in welding). So this doesn't literally mean to hit him with a hammer. This "hammer" is really something that "moves the ashes" of a ...


4

Apart from the sources in paquda's answer, the Chayei Adam (1:6) also says that you should accept upon yourself to love every Jew in order to be included as part of the group of all of Israel.


4

The custom to sharpen one's knife on Erev Shabbos comes from the Kolbo (Siman 31) and Sefer Chayei Olam from Rabbeynu Yona (Siman 309) and is quoted by the Beis Yosef (OC 250 "V'yashkim") and Rama (250:1). The Rama explains that it is considered honoring Shabbos to prepare for the meal, and the Mishna Berura (S"K 5 based on Rokeach) adds that if the knife is ...


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