KAWWANAH (plural, kawwanot):
Aside from the general idea of devotion conveyed by this Hebrew word (see Devotion), the term is used in the plural form by cabalists to denote ideas suggested by certain letters and words. In some prayer-books these are contained in marginal notes; in others they are inserted in the body of the text. They are generally traced to Rabbi Isaac Luria (16th cent.); and the title of such prayer-books contains the phrase = "thoughts according to the view of R. Isaac Luria of blessed memory" (e.g., "Seder 'Abodah u-Moreh Derek," Stawita, 1821; and "Seder Tefillah mi-Kol ha-Shanah ke-Minhag Ḳehillot Sefaradim," Vienna, 1819).
With regard to certain religious acts prescribed by the Law, kawwanah (i.e., the intention to carry out a divine precept) is required; and the question arises whether, for example, one who has accidentally heard the sounding of the shofar on the first day of Tishri without thinking of the divine command (Num. xxix. 1) may be considered as having satisfied the Law (being "yoẓe"). The Talmudical authorities are divided on the question (R. H. iii. 7-8; Ber. 13). All agree, however, that kawwanah in the performance of a "miẓwah" is desirable; wherefore it became a general custom before saying the blessing to make a distinct declaration, "I am ready and prepared to perform the divine command of . . ." Regarding intention as a decisive factor in violations of the Law, see Ignorance of the Law; Intention.