In fact, there are two kinds of set statements that can be said before doing Mitzvot.
- A declaration to help us focus, pay attention
- A formal Blessing to sanctify our action.
There are traditional statements about kavana, focus and intention, before many Commandments: saying Hallel, taking the Palm bundle, entering the Booth on Tabernacles, counting the Omer, etc.
Some rabbis plead against saying things to extra focus on Commandments that are done through speech, like counting the Omer, making Kiddush or Havdalah, or saying the Blessings after a bread meal. If we say a declaration on the automatic pilot, what we’ll have gained? Just do it.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested adding a declaration before our morning prayers, because of the times we’re in. That we take upon ourselves the very important Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
These statements don’t have the form of a formal Blessing. Therefore it’s not so pressing to know if we can say them. While a redundant formal Blessing may be a violation on one of the Ten Commandments, not to use G^d’s Name in vain.
We make a Blessing before eating, before saying Hallel (Ashkenazics even before Half Hallel), before taking up the Palm bundle, before entering the booth to eat a regular meal, before eating Matzot and bitter herbs on Passover Night, before putting on Phylacteries, even before putting on a Prayer shawl (there is no obligation to wear four-sided clothing but if we do, we should attach fringes to them and then make a Blessing), before listening to the Shofar, before learning and before reading Torah, before counting the Omer, before checking for chameitz, etc.
But, we do not make a blessing before giving charity, before returning a loan, before having proper sexual relations, before saying our daily prayers, before returning a lost object, before honoring our parents, before teaching our (grand)child, etc.
Why? Many learned detailed ideas have been suggested. I’m certainly not the first to wonder about this. One reason I heard often is that one doesn’t know if the poor would accept your gift (he might suddenly die), if the relations will lead to a child (but enjoying sex is a Commandment in itself), if our prayers will be heard and answered (they will be heard but answered by: Not yet), if the child will understand any of the learning, etc. I find that to reason this way sometimes sounds a bit farfetched (but it’s better than nothing). Let me suggest something else. Maybe I’m not the first to say so.
One reason I can think of is that these Commandments happen in vis-à-vis another. Don’t let the other (in prayer: the Other) wait because you want to sanctify. Proper interaction with others is consecration enough already.
This even more so when the interaction with the other is commanded and urgent: to save a life, stop a would-be murderer. But before you properly slaughter an animal, you do make a blessing because the animal will only profit, from you being calm and having a few seconds more to live.
Also a newborn baby won’t mind if it takes a few seconds more before he’ll encounter the knife of the circumciser.
How about the Blessing on getting married? Well, maybe that comes to teach the groom to go slow on his wife. And though the bride is not like an animal about to be slaughtered, she just profits from a few more seconds as a free girl. (Besides, most brides are too busy crying/praying to notice.)
But when you make Kiddush Friday night or Havadalah Saturday night, others wait for you to finish the Blessing. Not really. You say it for them.
We acknowledge specifically being Divinely commanded before doing a Commandment but not at the expense of someone (someOne) else.