For the past year I have been using a little known book called Sefer Nekudot HaKesef by Rabbi Yechezkel Bing. It is a step by step introduction to the Kavvanot. I had seen the book laying around on book shelves for years but I’ve never had more than a passing interest in it. I had always figured that the method for learning Kavvanot that had been around until now was still the best, namely intense study with the Shaar Hakavvanot, Shemen Sasson and Petach Enayim. All that changed when someone gave me a set of Nekudot HaKesef.
I was offered a set(a full five volumes) for ten shekel if I would agree to learn from them. I agreed and initially started to learn through volume three(Erev Shabbat) with my Chavruta. In very short order I was quite impressed. First with the scholarship involved, it really is an immense work. Secondly with how exhaustively it deals with the various Kavvanot. For a single sefer(even a large multivolume set) it does a quite splendid job of reviewing most of the pertinent sources and presenting them in a logical and understandable way.
It should be noted that the sefer does not seek to be an iyun sefer. You are not going to find within it a heavy dose of pilpul(dialectic). Rather it presents the Kavvanot according to a single overall shita, namely that of Yeshivat Shaar HaShamayim. Not surprising considering that the author(now a Rosh Yeshiva in his own right) was a Talmid Muvhak of the late Rosh Yeshiva of Shaar HaShamayim. In that respect there are some places that deviate from typical minhag Beit El(I have found five to date) and even from the opinions of the Sadeh(four to date). However if one studies it with Shaarei Rachamim, Peot HaSadeh or Petach Enayim they will be readily evident, and in truth they are rather minor. More impressively I have learned through three volumes and have only found two(minor) mistakes.
I was even more impressed when I heard from a friend of mine who learns there that Yeshivat HaChaim VeHaShalom(Rabbi Attiah’s Yeshiva) has begun using them for their beginner course in Kavvanot. In my opinion they really are written on that level. Personally, having been to University, I look at them as more or less University text books on the Kavvanot. That would be both their level of scholarship and their usefulness. They lay out each Kavvana with it’s various sources and boil it down to how it appears in the siddur, while also giving a healthy dose of background information as to reasons behind the kavvana.
Overall I would say that is an incredibly good sefer to have and to use and it is very close to being in the category of a must have.