Festival Prayers: Ata Vichartanu Kavanot: Shavuot Shacharit
“You have chosen us from all the peoples; You loved us and found favor in us; You exalted us above all the tongues and You sanctified us with Your commandments. You drew us close, our King, to Your service and proclaimed Your great and Holy Name upon us.”
Kavanot Shavuot Shacharit:
You have chosen us from all the peoples;
Based on (Ra’avan), “Only your forefathers did God cherish to love them, and He chose their offspring after them, you, from among all the peoples, as this day (Devarim 10:15).” When you look at the achievements of the Patriarchs and how they achieved becoming people who lived with constant awe of God, and realize how much more you must work to match their accomplishments; God will cherish you as He did them. He chose you because you can become as great as were they. (Rabbi Avraham Zerach Aryeh Yehudah of Berzon; Imrei Yehudah: and Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch if Liska; Ach Peri Tevuah)
Kavanah: “We believe that You chose us because we are capable of achieving as much as the Patriarchs. We will strive to live up to that choice.”
You loved us and found favor in us;
Based on (Abudirham), “”Go, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a glad heart, for the Lord has already approved your deeds – Ratza haElokim (Kohelet 9:7).” The Midrash Tehillim (85:1) explains that all our deeds merit Ratzon when we observe the laws of Charity and Shemmitah and Yovail. This teaches us that we can transform our property into a constant state of Ratzon by using all we have for good purposes to serve God. (Sefat Emet; Pesach 5660)
Kavanah: “We have expressed our experience of Your love for us by using all we own to serve You so that we may achieve a state of constant Ratzon”
You exalted us above all the tongues
Based on (Abudirham), “Thus said God, Master of Legions: In those days it will happen that ten men, of all the different languages of the nations, will take hold, they will take hold of the corner of the garment of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that the Lord is with you!’ (Zechariah 8:23).”
The garment described is a Tallit that when it wraps us, represents the Ohr Makif, the Divine Illumination that Envelops Us, and communicates with greater clarity than any language; it reflects a Universal Truth that can penetrate all hearts and minds, so that all will see that the Lord is with us. (Sefat Emet; Balak 5641)
Kavanah: “May we merit to reflect Your Illumination with such clarity to everyone in the world.” [This can also be used as a Kavanah for the Seventh Paragraph of Hallel: “All you nations; Praise God! Sing compliments, all you peoples! For His kindness overpowers us, and God’s Truth is forever. Hallelukah!”]
You sanctified us with Your commandments.
Based on (Rabbeinu Yehudah ben Yakar), “For I am God your Lord, you are to sanctify yourselves and you shall become holy (Vayikra 11:44).” The Midrash asks, “With what shall we sanctify ourselves? With the Mitzvot. “All its holy ones were in Your hands (Devarim 33:3),” even what You did not instruct them, but they applied using their own thought and perception.
Kavanah: “We accept to approach each Mitzvah as an opportunity to achieve holiness so that we will be able to apply our sanctified thoughts to the Mitzvot and apply them everywhere in our lives.”
You drew us close, our King, to Your service
Based on (Rabbeinu Yehudah ben Yakar), “And because all of them were licentious people, Scripture describes them in detail in order to publicize their disgrace. However, as for the Children of Israel, the Holy One, Blessed is He, drew them close and called them, “Chevel nachalah,” Heritage, lot and portion, as it is stated, ‘For God’s portion is His people; Jacob, the lot of His heritage (Devarim 32:9),’ and it is written, ‘You shall be My special treasure of all the peoples (Shemot 19:5),” and it is written, ‘I had planted you from a choice vine, entirely of faithful seed (Jeremiah 2:21).” [Midrash Tanchumah, Vayeishev 1) When we maintain our sanctity we merit that God will bring us close to His service and treasure us as His heritage, lot and portion.
Kavanah: “May we take full advantage of “You sanctified us with Your commandments,” so that we will merit experiencing closeness to You as we Serve You.”
Proclaimed Your great and Holy Name upon us.
Based on (Abudirham), “There is none like You, O God! You are great and Your Name is great in might (Jeremiah 10:6).” “But you are in our midst, O God, and Your Name is proclaimed upon us; do not abandon us (Ibid 14:9).” Even in Your Might, the Divine Attribute of Judgment, we find Gadol, the Divine Attribute of Chesed, proven by the fact that Your Great Name is “proclaimed upon us,” empowering us to request, “Do not abandon us!” (Chozeh David: Jeremiah)
Kavanah: “We acknowledge that there is none like You, known by the Name of Might, that is called upon us as a Chesed, as we experienced at Sinai. We ask that You maintain that Name on us so that we may request that You never abandon us.”