When it comes to Judaism I have some OCD. I was wondering if you can help me with following:
Since I learned that Mitzvos need kavana (and I know it should take quick, but) since I’m afraid not to have it, so I decided to just say the words in my mind “I want to fulfill the Mitzva “X””. But still, since I’m afraid I’m not able to concentrate and keep saying it over and over, could I just say it once and no matter if I had proper concentration or not move on?
I am sorry to hear about your condition and I’m sure that you are seeking medical help, and I’m glad to offer halachic help.
Someone who suffers from an ailment, physical or mental, must do all they can to be healed, at times even at the expense of violating a positive Mitzva. The Rebbe is of the opinion (as are mental health professionals lehavdil), that part of the treatment for OCD is to never repeat anything, and that this has priority over your obligation of Mitzvos. In simple words: to repeat any part of a Mitzva, even it’s kavana, is detrimental to your mental health and should not be done. This would be the halacha even if it would mean not fulfilling a Mitzva. But as I’ll explain soon, you did in fact fulfill your Mitzva obligation.
Regarding kavana specifically – I think the solution that you have (to verbalize your kavana) is a great one! Halacha states that if one has an initial intention to fulfill a Mitzva during its preparation, that intention is effective even hours later when he actually does the Mitzva, even though he does not have specific intention at the moment. How much more so when you are having the intention right before fulfilling the Mitzva. The effectiveness is strengthened when the intention is verbalized. For then it is effective even if someone might have opposite thoughts!
From the above it is clear that once you have kavana to fulfill the Mitzva, and especially if you verbalize it, there is nothing to be worried about. And neither the kavana nor the verbalization should be repeated.
Click here to view the Rebbe’s letter on the matter:
לעצם הענין של קדימת רפואת הנפש לקיום המצוות – ראה באריכות בשו”ת מנחת אשר ח”ב סי’ קלד, מיוסד גם על שו”ת חתם סופר או”ח סי פג.
דעת הרבי – נדפס ב- Healthy in body, mind & spirit vol. 3 – מצו”ב. ושם איירי במקרה של נט”י.
בדין כוונה מוקדמת – ראה שו”ע אדה”ז תקפט, ט. משנ”ב סי’ ס סק”י, מובא בקצוה”ש יט, טז.
בנוגע לאמירה – ראה שו”ע יו”ד רעד, א מובא בתניא פמ”א.
עירוב מחשבות – ראה בספר חדרי דעה על אתר שמוכיח כן ע”פ תוספות. וראה עוד ביאור בזה בחקרי הלכות ח”ט דף נא ע”ב.
ראה גם כאן:
See also some more informational and helpful links:
- Halacha2go.com #355: OCD in Halachah
- Rav Asher Weiss on medical Halachic issues – Book by Feldheim
- HaRav Osher Weiss, author of Minchas Osher discousing OCD in Halacha