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Targeted Prayer

Margie Pensak

Have you ever started davening, your lips moving to the familiar tefillos, only to realize just a few minutes in that your mind was elsewhere (like up to fifth item of your Shabbos shopping list)? Unfortunately, this scenario is familiar to many of us. But there’s hope. Here are some tried-and-true ways to improve your kavanah.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

For years, Brooklynite Dina Sara Levine struggled to focus during davening. “I tried many different approaches to improve my davening, including warm-up brain exercises, various brain function improvement techniques, and trying to ‘force’ myself to focus more,” she remembers. Despite her efforts, nothing helped. Then she came up with an idea: She would launch a davening “campaign.” As she relays, “It was my way of taking my struggle to the ‘Boss’ for help. I knew that when we ask Hashem for something physical, the answer might be ‘not now,’ but when we ask to come closer to Him, we are always helped. “My strategy for the campaign was to talk to Hashem and tell Him that if I receive the prayed-for item, ability, or quality, it will help me better fulfill ‘ivdu es Hashem b’simchah’ (serve Hashem with joy) and bring Him nachas from me,” she continues. “Such a tefillah could be about a commitment to any relevant improvement, be it having more ahavas Yisrael, or doing a specific mitzvah with more focus. In my case, I chose serving Hashem with joy. And one day, I suddenly realized that I had become a really happy person — happy for no external reason!” Little did Mrs. Levine know where this campaign would eventually take her. “One day, I was reviewing the introduction of a sefer on the halachos of brachos when my attention was drawn to the statement that it’s a halachah to focus on the meanings of Hashem’s names when we say a brachah — specifically that Hashem is Master of all; always was, always is, and always will be, and that for Elokim we are to think that Hashem is all-powerful, all-capable, and Almighty.

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