Kavana During Brachot
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Thinking about the words
- When reciting brachot a person must think about the meaning of the words one is reciting. A blessing should not be thrown from one's mouth and one should make blessings peacefully and calmly. One should think about Hashem's kindness in having provided us with the food or Mitzva which we are about to perform. One who recites blessings out of mere habit arouses Hashem's anger against His people.
- One should not be doing anything else while reciting a beracha or a prayer even if he feels it will not interfere with his kavana.  For example one shouldn't set the table, play with a kid, or dry one's hands while reciting a bracha.
- It is technically permitted to recite a bracha besides Birkat Hamazon or Al Hamichya while walking, however, it is preferable not to so that one can have proper intent when reciting the bracha.
Having Kavana for Hashem's name
- Additionally, when reciting Hashem's four letter name "A-donai," one should think about the fact that Hashem is master over the entire world and that Hashem exists throughout time. These two intentions are easy to think about because they correspond to the way Hashem's name is pronounced ("Adon" means "Master" the yud suffix implies "my," thus the meaning of this word's pronunciation is "My Master") and the way Hashem's name is written (with the letters of the words "haya"- "He was," "hove" - "He is," and "yihiye" - "He will be").
- Although one should think about how Hashem's name was pronounced in the Temple (as it is spelled), one is forbidden to pronounce Hashem's name this way and one who does so loses his portion in the world to come.
- When reciting the name "E-lohim" one should think about the fact that Hashem is strong, all-capable, and omnipotent.
- When reciting Hashem's name not in the context of a beracha or the first pasuk of the shema, it is not necessary to have these kavanot. 
- Regarding preparing oneself to make a bracha properly, see the Before_the_Bracha page.
- Shulchan Aruch 5:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu 6:1
- Mishna Brurah 5:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu 6:1
- Halacha Brurah 5:2. The Yerushalmi (Brachot 2:2) writes that it is forbidden to do any work while one is saying birkat hamazon. Ramban (Milchamot Brachot 9a) quotes it. Shulchan Aruch 191:3 codifies it as halacha. Taz 191:1 expands this to all brachot and mitzvot since it is considered like one is treating the bracha or mitzvah insignificantly. Even though the Mishna Brurah 63:19 asks on the Taz from the Shulchan Aruch 63:7 in 191 he seems to accept the Taz completely. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 6:1, Kaf Hachaim 191:5, Vezot Habracha (ch. 1 p. 11), Halacha Brurah 5:2 codify the Taz. The Pri Megadim M"Z 191:1 explains that the Taz holds that even though it is permitted to do work during birchot kriyat shema that it is because it is like learning unlike every other mitzvah which is forbidden to do work while doing the mitzvah.
- Vezot Habracha p. 11
- The Rif (Brachot 9b) clearly distinguishes between walking while saying kriyat shema which takes away one's intent and working while saying shema which degrades the shema. Therefore he writes that only the first pasuk needs intent but it is nonetheless it is forbidden to work for the whole first paragraph. Therefore, even after the Taz 191:1 expanded the prohibition to do any work during any bracha, it is nonetheless permitted to walk during a bracha. That is the conclusion of the Vezot Habracha (ch. 1 p. 11) from the Mishna Brurah. Nonetheless, he cites the Halichot Shlomo 22:5 who writes that it is preferable not to say brachot while walking.
- Shulchan Aruch 5:1 The Gra however, as quoted in Mishna Brurah 5:3, holds that one need not think about Hashem's existence throughout time when reciting Hashem's name because one need only concern himself with the pronunciation of the word he is reading--not the way it is written. However, even the Shulchan Aruch agrees that one need not think about Hashem's existence throughout time when Hashem's name is spelled "A-donai" (Mishna Brurah 5:3).
- Mishna Brurah 5:2
- Shulchan Aruch 5:1
- Or Litzion 2:1:18