Kavanot of Kavanot


The word “Kavanot” is Hebrew for intentions. Each chant contained on this CD can be thought of as a meditation, where the focus of the meditation is a specific intention, or kavannah. As you chant along with this CD, it is my hope that you can allow your soul to deeply experience these intentions.

1. Sim shalom tovah uv’racha…

Grant peace, goodness, blessing and lovingkindness to your people.

This beautiful prayer, central to our Shabbat liturgy, is a plea for wholeness within ourselves and throughout the universe.

2. Rayshit Chochma Yirat Adonai

The beginning of wisdom is Awe.

This phrase is found in the morning liturgy as the blessing for washing the hands. When I awaken, I am in a barely alert state, finding my way into the bathroom. I splash water on my hands and face, and instantly become aware of God through the element of water. This affords me my first opportunity of the day to appreciate the world outside of Me. As I chant this phrase, I am seeking the ability to see the smallest things in creation with wonder, to notice God in all things and in all people.

3. Ki taylaych b’mo aysh lo tikaveh

When you walk through fire, you will not be burned. (Isaiah 43:2)

This simple phrase from Isaiah is a reminder that we are going to encounter very challenging times in our lives. When we use our power to walk courageously through these times, we can emerge stronger and more whole than before.

4. L’cha amar libi bakshu fanai

To You my heart says, “Seek my face.”

This chant is our expression to God that we are ready and willing to be seen, to be known as our authentic self.

It was written as a preparation for Rosh Hashanah. As we enter the High Holy Days, we must be willing to strip away that which separates us from our true selves, and stand naked before the universe, with all of our blemishes, and with all of our damage. It is only when we can live our lives with this type of honesty, that we can take a step toward lasting change.

5. Vay’hi erev, vay’hi boker, yom echad

And there was evening, and there was morning, Day One. (Genesis 1:5)

I use this chant with 2 different intentions, depending on what is needed:

1. It is important to recognize that darkness often comes before we experience the light in our life, and that both are natural and necessary parts of creation. Rather than labeling the darkness as “bad” and seeking to blot it out, I ask the question, “What is there for me to learn from his time?”

2. Sometimes when troubles fill my heart, and all I can see is darkness before me, a simple reminder that this day will end, and a new one will begin, is somehow gratifying and uplifting. This “one day at a time” philosophy can be a powerful way to get through a difficult time. Each day brings a new creation, and, almost always a new outlook on the world.

6. Karov Adonai

God is near to all who call her in truth.

This chant can be used in a time where we are feeling isolated and alone. We set the intention that we can experience the love and closeness of God. The key is for us to recognize the need and to call out to see God at those times. The first step must be taken by us. When we are able to take this step, then God is there for us.

7. Ahavah Rabah Ahavtanu Yah

With a great love, You have loved us, Yah.

This blessing appears in our liturgy as one of the prayers leading up to the Shema, the ultimate expression of Oneness so central to Jewish prayer. As we sing these words, we open ourselves up to a vast and expansive love that fills the universe.

8. Laymor la’asurim tsayu, la-asher bachoshech “Higalu”

To the prisoners “Go Free”, to those in darkness, “Reveal yourself.” This chant is an encouragement to walk away from that which holds us prisoner in our lives. But simply unlocking the shackles is only the first step. We have to step through the darkness to embrace and live our whole truth.

9. Modeh Anee l’fanecha

I offer thanks before you, Creator, spirit, life of the worlds. You have lovingly restored my soul in me. How awesome is your faith in me.

This prayer is a pure expression of gratitude. The first sentence presents an amazing intimacy with God, “I offer thanks before you,” using the word l’fanecha, which also means “before your face.” What would it feel like to stand face to face with God; to be able to express our gratitude in this most intimate of ways? And, in the final sentence, we acknowledge the miracle that God has faith in us.

10. This is my servant whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom I delight

The kavanah of this chant is to see our uniqueness, and to see the uniqueness of all beings.

As I chant this phrase, I focus on those attributes that make me unique, and open to the wonderful image of God delighting in me for being the person that only I can be.

11. Mah Yafu Dodayich

How sweet is your love.

As we chant these words, we experience Creator as lover, paying attention to the gentle, nurturing energy that is available to us in every moment. By opening up to receiving love, we open ourselves to returning love to the universe.

12. B’yado afkid ruchee

Into Your hands I entrust my soul.

What would it mean to truly entrust our soul into God’s hands, to give up our need to control our lives, and accept life on its terms? The medicine of this chant is the ability to relax into our lives and love where we are in this moment.

13. Y’varechecha

This chant provides a meditative setting for the priestly blessing, which is a staple of the Jewish prayer service. Through this prayer, we are given an opportunity to bless those around us, using the words that God taught us in the Hebrew bible.

Y’varechecha Adonai v’yishm’recha
May the holy one bless you and keep you.

Ya’eir Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka.
May God’s holy face shine light upon you.

Yisa Adonai panav eilecha, v’yaseim l’cha shalom.
May Creator’s face be lifted toward you,
And may you know true shalom.

David P. Goldstein

David P. Goldstein

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