One of the unfortunate consequences of the Twenty-First Century’s fast- paced, high-tech lifestyle is that people find concentration increasingly difficult. Preoccupied as we are with thoughts of communicating via cell phone, fax, e-mail, text messages, and voice mail, it is often difficult to focus on a conversation with Hashem. Since total concentration on the first blessing of Shemoneh Esrei is obligatory, if a person lacks the proper intention, aren’t more than half of his one hundred blessings in vain?
Rav Shlomo Zalman’s answer to this question eases our concern. He suggests that while full attentiveness is required to fulfill the mitzvah of prayer, if one lacks this concentration the blessings are not considered in vain, and they can still be included in the count toward one hundred blessings (Halichos Shlomo 8 ). Similarly, if one must repeat Shemoneh Esrei because of an omission (e.g., Ya’aleh Veyavo), the blessings of the first Shemona Esrei are included in the tally (ibid. 8 ).
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org