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September 5, 2015 | 21st Elul 5775
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Keva and Kavanah


  1. I am in favor of both! I am not sure that it is even possible for there to be a "vs". In my own experience it is rare to achieve kavanah without keva although it is not uncommon to have keva with no kavanah.


  2. All that I have ever needed to prompt people to get started with discussing keva vs. kavanah and Hebrew vs. English is the format.

    A. The Language of Prayer

    It is recorded in a number of rabbinical texts* that according to Jewish law one?s obligation to pray can be fulfilled in any language. Since a very formidable obstacle to Jews who want to learn how to pray is the language of Jewish prayer, Hebrew, why is it important for us to learn how to pray certain prayers in Hebrew?

    * Mishnah Sotah Chapter 7, Paragraph 1 (compiled circa 200 of the Common Era) Babylonian Talmud Berachot 13a; Sotah 32b-33a; Shevuot 39a (compiled circa 500 CE) Mishneh Torah (Maimonides) CLaws of the Shema, 2:10 (13th century CE) Shulchan Arukh (Rabbi Joseph Karo) Orach Chayim 62:2; 101;4

    Reasons for praying in Hebrew

    Reasons for praying in English
    B. Keva and Kavanah: Fixed Liturgy vs. Spontaneous Prayer

    For many Jews the fixed aspects of Jewish prayer are very troubling. Why does Judaism treat prayer as an obligation which Jews must perform? Prayer should be more spontaneous than that. And why does Judaism establish a set liturgy? Prayer should be more individuated and flexible than that.

    Reasons for fixed prayer (keva)

    Reasons for spontaneous prayer (kavanah)
    (Rabbi) Fred


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