Mishnah Berachos 4:2-3
4:2 – One of the sages “would recite a brief prayer upon his entrance into the study hall and upon his exit” (sefaria.org), for the sake of the sanctification of his study time. He would say a prayer, before studying that he would not negatively influence others, by way of sharing a wrong understanding (G-d forbid), having the adverse impact of causing someone to err in his ways. After studying, his prayer encompassed an appreciation of having the opportunity to study, and his gratitude towards G-d for that opportunity.
Reflecting on this, I think about how much I take for granted, in regard to my ability to study with concentration, and the time allotment that I have for doing so. I have taken these studies upon myself, and though at times they feel like an arduous chore, at other times, I find an almost instantaneous reward, for having learned something of unique value.
Yet, I am too preoccupied, most of the time, to thank G-d for these opportunities. Furthermore, when I take creative license for my explanations, instead of going strictly “by the book,” I wonder if I have permitted myself too much of an interpretive rendering of my own. I should offer more thanks to G-d, and always pray for guidance in my words.
4:3 – Regarding a shortened version of the Shemonah Esrei prayer, this version may be said when one is lacking in concentration. The point is that it is better to recite less with kavannah (intentional focus) than to recite the full prayer without doing so in a meaningful way. Thus, as a side note, I would add that another way to put this would be to focus on “quality, rather than quantity.” Much consideration is given elsewhere, such as in the Mesillas Yesharim (Way of the Upright), concerning the importance of kavannah. This is something that I should always try to emphasize.