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Hilchos Kriyas Shema 60-61 (page 187)
מסימן ס אמצע סעיף ד וכן הלכה עד סימן סא סעיף ב

Intent for Mitzvos D'oraisa and D'rabonon
Does Preparation for a Mitzva Count as Intention?
The Kavana of the First Pasuk of Shema

Intent for mitzvos d'rabonon
There is a machlokes among the poskim as to whether the halacha follows the opinion which requires intent for mitzvos. The Mechaber decides in favor of those who require intent. Accordingly, someone who performed a mitzva without the proper intention must repeat it. (The beracha, however, is not repeated because there are those who hold that the obligation has been fulfilled.) The poskim further discuss whether mitzvos d'rabonon require intention, and the halacha follows the opinion that they do.
( סימן ס, סעיף ד, ס"ק י, וביה"ל ד"ה וכן; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 17)

Does preparation of the mitzva count as intention?
Before doing any mitzva, it is proper to explicitly intend that action to be a mitzva. A mitzva can be fulfilled without conscious intent if the actions leading up to it or the manner in which it was done demonstrate that the activity was intended as a mitzva. For example, someone who recites kriyas Shema with its preceding berachos has demonstrated with his actions that he intended to fulfill his obligation. In general, reciting the proper beracha prior to a mitzva demonstrates the intention to fulfill the mitzva.
( סימן ס, ס"ק י וביה"ל ד"ה וכן; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 22)

The kavana of the first pasuk of Shema
The first pasuk of Shema requires an added level of kavana in that the person must also be focused on the meaning of what he is saying. According to some Acharonim, this means he must focus on accepting the yoke of Hashem; knowledge of the translation is not important. Other poskim hold that the essential kavana is the meaning of the words. A third opinion holds that both the meaning of the words and acceptance of the yoke of Heaven are required.
( סימן ס, סעיף ה וס"ק יא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 21)

  • Someone who performed a mitzva action with the mistaken assumption that the mitzva wasn't valid (e.g. he held an esrog but thought that it was pasul or that it was the wrong time for the mitzva) has not fulfilled his obligation.
  • Someone who does something inadvertently-i.e. he does not even intend to perform the action -- is not yotzei.  An example of this would be someone who blew into a shofar without intending to make a shofar sound.
  • If for some reason someone recited Shema without the berachos and then davened Shemoneh Esrei, he should repeat Shema with the berachos afterwards.

  • Why the chazan repeats the words Hashem E-lokeichem emes out loud

  • How an individual can reach 248 words

  • Listening to Hashem E-lokeichem emes in the middle of kriyas Shema


PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.