kavanah (kah-vah-NAH)


  • n. "Attention to the meaning, spirit, and purpose of words." (Weiser)

  • n. Intent.

Example Sentences

  • "You should daven with a lot of kavannah."

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish


  • Heb כוונה kavaná, Ashkenazi Heb/Yiddish כּוונה kavóne

    • Who Uses This

      • Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
      • Organizations: People involved in a professional or volunteer capacity with Jewish nonprofit organizations


      • North America


      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
      • Frumspeak: The First Dictionary of Yeshivish, by Chaim Weiser (Northvale, 1995).

      Alternative Spellings

      kavannah, kavanna


  • Different communities have different understandings of this term. In Orthodox communities it is generally understood as concentration or intention necessary for prayer to be halachically acceptable, while more liberal communities understand it as concentration or mindfullness more broadly defined. "Intentionally" or "with intent" is בכוונה- bekavanah, bekavone, or according to grammatically correct Hebrew, bechavanah, bekhavone.

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