The gemara (Chulin 31) quotes a dispute between Rav and R’ Yochanan whether tevila requires kavanah [intent] or not. For example, if one fell into a mikvah by accident, or went to a mikvah for a nice swim on a hot day - is the act of dunking alone sufficient to make one tahor, or is that act meaningless unless one has specific intention to fulfill a halachic requirement? The Bais Yosef (Y.D. 198:48) rules leniently and says kavanah is not required, while the Rama l’chatchila is strict and requires kavanah. Two interesting conceptual points worth noting here – I’ll start with the easier one first.
There is a dispute many places whether mitzvos tzerichos kavanah – does the performance of a mitzvah act alone suffice to fulfill a commandment, or is intent a necessary condition of fulfilling commandments? For example, if one ate matzah on the night of Pesach because one was hungry, does this suffice to fulfill the commandment of eating matzah, or must one have specific intent at the time of eating that one is engaged in a mitzvah act? At first glance one might draw a parallel between this case and our case of dunking in a mikvah without proper intent. Radba”z (cited by the Badei haShulchan in his Iyunim), however, writes, “Know that this dispute [regarding tevilah] is not relevant to the issue of mitzvos tzerichos kavanah which is debated by Tanaim and Amoraim in many places, as tevilah and shechita are different because…” Sorry, no giveaways yet - How would you fill in the blank?