First Blessing 16:Thinking About God
“Elokainu vei’lokei avoteinu” Continued:
The halacha teaches that if you are not going to be able to concentrate and have kavana, awareness over the course of the Amidah, at least have concentration on the first three blessings. You see now why this is so important. We no longer follow this halacha, because halachically we assume that people do not daven with kavanah. That’s why we don’t repeat the Amidah…originally when a person would daven and forgot to have kavanah, you would repeat the Amidah. A person would say, “Oh, I lost this opportunity! I must start again.” We don’t do that anymore. In fact, we are not allowed to because we say, “So the second time you will daven with kavana?” Alternatively, a bridegroom on the first night of marriage before the consummation is not obligated to daven. He’s not going to be able to have kavana. A nice, yeshiva boy – you assume that he’s been behaving himself – he’s got other things on his mind the first night. That is the halacha. But we do daven ma’ariv on the first night, because we assume that we never daven with kavana anyway. I believe we can change it back. But it will take a great deal of work.
There was a time when I used to carry these little index cards and remember to think about God. It’s a silly thing. I need to remind myself? The top line on every one of my sermon notes says, “Remember that you are doing this as a servant of Hashem.” It is so easy to get caught up with what you are doing. That’s what the first blessing is about – to remind you to remember God when you are praying.
What are the definitions that we are addressing? One that we’ve already said is how God has this incredible perspective of being both Individual Providence and General Providence.