kavanah

Alternative Spellings

kavannah, kavanna

Definitions

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

Example Sentences

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

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish

Etymology

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

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

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).

Notes

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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