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Shulchan Aruch: Chapter 91 - One should Gird his Loins and Cover his Head during Prayer

Shulchan Aruch: Chapter 91 - One should Gird his Loins and Cover his Head during Prayer

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SECTION 91 One should Gird his Loins and Cover his Head during Prayer. (1-6)

סימן צא שֶׁיֶּאֱזֹר מָתְנָיו וִיכַסֶּה רֹאשׁוֹ בִּשְׁעַת תְּפִלָּה וּבוֹ ו' סְעִיפִים:

1 What is meant by [preparing] one’s clothing?1 Needless to say, one’s nakedness must be covered,2 and one’s heart should not see his nakedness.3 [In addition,] even if a garment is tied around one’s waist to cover his [body] from the loins downward and he makes a separation with his garment over his loins so that his heart does not see his nakedness, he is forbidden to pray until he covers his heart,4 for the reason explained in sec. 74[:7].5 If he did not cover his heart, or due to forces beyond his control he did not have [a garment] with which to cover himself, since he covered his nakedness [while] praying, he has fulfilled his obligation.6

א בְּגָדָיו כֵּיצַד?א,1 אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁתְּהֵא עֶרְוָתוֹ מְכֻסָּהב,2 וְלֹא יְהֵא לִבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה,ג,3 אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ אִם הָיְתָה טַלִּית חֲגוּרָה לוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו לְכַסּוֹתוֹ מִמָּתְנָיו וּלְמַטָּה,ד וְחוֹצֵץ בְּטַלִּיתוֹ עַל מָתְנָיוה שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא לִבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה – אָסוּר לְהִתְפַּלֵּל עַד שֶׁיְּכַסֶּה לִבּוֹ,4 מִטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר סִימָן ע"ד.ו,5 וְאִם לֹא כִּסָּה אֶת לִבּוֹ, אוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱנַס וְאֵין לוֹ בַּמֶּה שֶׁיִּתְכַּסֶּה,ז הוֹאִיל וְכִסָּה עֶרְוָתוֹ וְהִתְפַּלֵּל – יָצָא:6

2 One must wear a gartl7 during prayer,8 even though he is wearing a belt that prevents his heart from seeing his nakedness, because it is written,9 “Prepare to greet your G‑d, O Israel.” However, one is permitted to recite other blessings without [wearing] a gartl, since he is wearing a belt [supporting] his trousers and his heart does not see his nakedness.10 This also applies even if he is not wearing trousers, provided his clothes are lying directly on his abdomen and separating his heart from his nakedness.

A person who goes about throughout the day without wearing a belt is not required to wear one during prayer.11

ב צָרִיךְ לֶאֱזֹר אֵזוֹר7 בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּהח,8 אֲפִלּוּ אִם יֵשׁ לוֹ אַבְנֵטט שֶׁאֵין לִבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:י,9 "הִכּוֹן לִקְרַאת אֱלֹהֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל". אֲבָל בִּשְׁאָר בְּרָכוֹת מֻתָּר לְבָרֵךְ בְּלֹא חֲגוֹרָה,יא מֵאַחַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אַבְנֵט בַּמִּכְנָסַיִם וְאֵין לִבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה,יב,10 וְהוּא הַדִּין אֲפִלּוּ בְּלֹא מִכְנָסַיִם אִם בְּגָדָיו מֻנָּחִים מַמָּשׁ עַל בִּטְנוֹ וְחוֹצְצִים בֵּין לִבּוֹ לָעֶרְוָה.יג וּמִי שֶׁהוֹלֵךְ כָּל הַיּוֹם בְּלֹא חֲגוֹרָה – אֵין צָרִיךְ לֶאֱזֹר בִּשְׁעַת תְּפִלָּה:יד,11

3 It is forbidden to utter G‑d’s name12 bareheaded.13 Some authorities maintain that one should protest against anyone’s entry into a synagogue bareheaded. It is pious conduct14 not to walk [even] four cubits bareheaded, even outside a synagogue, as was explained in sec. 2.15

ג אָסוּר לְהוֹצִיא אַזְכָּרָה12 מִפִּיו בְּרֹאשׁ מְגֻלֶּה.טו,13 וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםטז שֶׁיֵּשׁ לִמְחוֹת שֶׁלֹּא לִכָּנֵס לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת בְּגִלּוּי הָרֹאשׁ. וּמִדַּת חֲסִידוּת14 הוּא שֶׁלֹּא לֵילֵךְ ד' אַמּוֹת בְּגִלּוּי הָרֹאשׁ אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת,יז כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ב':יח,15

4 Hats of woven straw are considered as a head-covering, but placing one’s hand on his own head is not.16 The rationale is that the hand and the head are [parts of] the same body and one [part of a] body is not considered as a covering for that same body. If, however, another person places his hand over one’s head, there is room for leniency (for Rashal17 rules leniently altogether), [and maintains that covering the head with one’s own hand is acceptable].

ד כּוֹבָעִים הַקְּלוּעִים מִקַּשׁ חֲשׁוּבִים כִּסּוּי, אֲבָל הַנָחַת יָדוֹ עַל רֹאשׁוֹ אֵינָהּ חֲשׁוּבָה כִּסּוּי,יט,16 לְפִי שֶׁהַיָּד וְהָרֹאשׁ גּוּף אֶחָד הֵן וְאֵין הַגּוּף יָכוֹל לְכַסּוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ. אֲבָל אִם אַחֵר מַנִּיחַ יָדוֹ עַל רֹאשׁוֹ – יֵשׁ לְהָקֵלכ (כֵּיוָן שֶׁרש"לכא,17 מֵקֵל לְגַמְרֵי):

5 A person should not stand in prayer wearing [only] his undershirt,18 nor with uncovered feet19 if the practice of the people of that locale is not to stand before distinguished persons unless they are wearing socks.20 If their practice is to stand barefoot even before [such people] as is the custom in Arab lands, it is permissible to pray barefoot.

In these countries, one should not pray in linen leggings unless socks are worn over them, for it is disgraceful to stand before men of distinction in linen leggings alone. This certainly applies when wearing slippers,21 where the heel is exposed. (If one is wearing socks, he may pray even when he is not wearing leggings, since [either] he is wearing a belt that makes a separation between his heart and his nakedness,22 or his clothes are lying directly on his abdomen, as explained in subsection 2.)

In this spirit, one should not wear gloves while praying like travelers do.23

ה לֹא יַעֲמֹד אָדָם בִּתְפִלָּה בַּאֲפוּנְדָתוֹ,כב,18 וְלֹא בְּרַגְלַיִם מְגֻלִּיםכג,19 אִם דֶּרֶךְ אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁלֹּא יַעַמְדוּ לִפְנֵי הַגְּדוֹלִים אֶלָּא בְּבָתֵּי רַגְלַיִם.כד,20 אֲבָל אִם דַּרְכָּם לַעֲמֹד יְחֵפִים בִּפְנֵי הַגְּדוֹלִים כְּמוֹ בְּאֶרֶץ הָעֲרָב – מֻתָּר לְהִתְפַּלֵּל יָחֵף.כה

וּבִמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ אֵין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּבָתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם שֶׁל פִּשְׁתָּן אִם לֹא יִלְבַּשׁ עֲלֵיהֶם אַנְפִּילָאוֹתכו (שֶׁקּוֹרִין זאקי"ןכז), שֶׁגְּנַאי הוּא לַעֲמֹד בִּפְנֵי הַגְּדוֹלִים בְּבָתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם שֶׁל פִּשְׁתָּן בִּלְבַד, וּמִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן כְּשֶׁנּוֹעֲלִין סַנְדָּל21 (שֶׁקּוֹרִין פאנטאפי"לכח) שֶׁהֶעָקֵב מְגֻלֶּה (אֲבָל בְּאַנְפִּילָאוֹת מֻתָּר לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אַף בְּלֹא בָּתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם, מֵאַחַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אֵזוֹר לְהַפְסִיק בֵּין לִבּוֹ לָעֶרְוָה,22 אוֹ שֶׁבְּגָדָיו מֻנָּחִים מַמָּשׁ עַל בִּטְנוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסָעִיף ב').

וְכֵן אֵין לִלְבֹּשׁ בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה בָּתֵּי יָדַיִם כְּדֶרֶךְ עוֹבְרֵי דְּרָכִים:כט,23

6 It is the practice of sages and their students to pray only when wrapped [in a tallis].24 It was the custom of the Sages of the early generations that when the world was at peace, they would adorn themselves with beautiful garments and pray,19 in the spirit of the charge,9 “Prepare [to greet your G‑d],” which implies that in His presence one must enhance one’s appearance. In times of [Divine] fury, they would stand before Him as a servant before his master, who casts off his cloak so that he will not appear pretentious and clutches his hands with his fingers, out of the dread and fear of his master — he clasps the fingers of one hand with the fingers of the other, like a person who cracks his knuckles in sorrow. There were Sages who would [hold their hands] in this manner even in times of peace.8 Nevertheless, it is desirable to be careful not to clasp one’s fingers at a time of peace, because doing so evokes Heavenly judgment on oneself. Instead, one should close one hand over the other, as will be explained in sec. 95[:4].

ו דֶּרֶךְ הַחֲכָמִים וְתַלְמִידֵיהֶם שֶׁלֹּא יִתְפַּלְּלוּ אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁהֵן עֲטוּפִים.ל,24 וּמִנְהַג הַחֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִיםלא כְּשֶׁהָיָה שָׁלוֹם בָּעוֹלָם הָיוּ מִתְקַשְּׁטִים בִּבְגָדִים נָאִיםלב וּמִתְפַּלְלִים,19 מִשּׁוּם9 "הִכּוֹןלג כו'", כְּלוֹמַר הִתְנָאֶה לְפָנָיו.לד וּבְעֵת הַזַּעַם הָיוּ עוֹמְדִים כְּעֶבֶד לִפְנֵי רַבּוֹ שֶׁמַּשְׁלִיךְ אַדַּרְתּוֹ מֵעָלָיו שֶׁלֹּא יֵרָאֶה כְּחָשׁוּב, וְחוֹבֵק אֶת יָדָיו בְּאֶצְבְּעוֹתָיולה מֵאֵימַת רַבּוֹ וְיִרְאָתוֹ,לו דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁחוֹבֵק אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו שֶׁל יָדָיו זֶה בְּשֶׁל זֶה כְּאָדָם שֶׁשּׁוֹבֵר אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו כְּשֶׁמִּצְטַעֵר.לז וְיֵשׁ מֵהַחֲכָמִים שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹשִׂים כֵּן אַף בְּעֵת שָׁלוֹם.לח,8

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, טוֹב לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא לְחַבֵּק אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו בְּעֵת שָׁלוֹם, כִּי בָּזֶה מוֹרִיד דִּין עַל עַצְמוֹ, אֶלָּא יָנִיחַ יָדָיו זֶה עַל זֶה כְּפוּתִין,לט כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן צ"ה:מ

The Alter Rebbe is referring to his statement in sec. 90:1 above: “A person [who is about to pray] should prepare a fit place to pray and should also prepare his clothing, his body, and his thoughts for prayer.” The present section speaks of preparing one’s clothing; later sections speak of preparing one’s body and one’s thoughts.
See sec. 74:2.
Loc. cit., subsection 1.
Berachos 24b-25a.
There the Alter Rebbe states that this is necessary, because “when reciting Shemoneh Esreh, one must perceive himself as standing before the King and speaking to Him. Hence he must stand in awe.”
Needless to say, as an initial preference he should pray fully clothed.
A sash tied around the waist.

In one of his letters (Igros Kodesh, Vol. 10, p. 393), the Rebbe explains the Lubavitch custom to wear a gartl for prayer only after marriage:

“Though I have not found an explicit explanation, one could point to a similarity with the mitzvah of wearing a tallis. Wearing a gartl is a chassidic custom (see its full treatment in Tur Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 91, and its commentaries), which is practiced in fulfillment of the injunction to ‘Prepare to greet your G‑d, O Israel.’ In this it resembles the mitzvah of wrapping oneself in a tallis, which is an instance of prisu demitzvah (lit., ‘being enveloped by a mitzvah’; Zohar, Vol. III, p. 120b), for it is a means of drawing G‑d’s sovereignty upon oneself (as is explained at the beginning of Tanya, ch. 41). It could thus be suggested that this similarity between the gartl and the tallis explains why people are accustomed to begin wearing both at the same time. This time is after marriage, as is hinted at, with regard to the tallis, in Kiddushin 29b. Other reasons too could be proposed, but this is not the place to enumerate them.”
Shabbos 10a.
Amos 4:12.
See section 46:2 and sec. 206:6.
Accordingly, the common contemporary leniency regarding a gartl may be explained by the fact that nowadays people are not accustomed to wearing a sash over the jacket. Since this means that wearing a gartl during prayer is not mandated halachically (min hadin), doing so remains minhag chassidim, a pious custom beyond the letter of the law (lifnim mishuras hadin). See also footnote 7 above.
In the original, the word translated here as “G‑d’s name” is azkarah — lit., “a mention.”
Sofrim 14:15; see also sec. 206:7 below.
In the original, middas chassidus.
See (in Vol. 1 of the present Bilingual Edition): Mahadura Kama (the first edition of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch), sec. 2:7; Mahadura Basra (its second edition), sec. 2:6. In the latter source, after mentioning the prohibition stated above, the Alter Rebbe continues:

“[This applied] even in the [Talmudic] period, when most people often went about bareheaded [...]. Today, when all [Jews] always cover their heads, it is forbidden to walk or even sit bareheaded. [Doing so is considered] immodest [...]. Certainly this applies in these countries, where the gentiles customarily go bareheaded and the holy people of Israel are careful [to cover their heads] as an expression of modesty; here, a person who walks or even sits bareheaded like a non-Jew transgresses the prohibition, ‘Do not follow their statutes.’ ”

See also sec. 46:2 and sec. 282:6 in the present work, and the Piskei Dinim of the Tzemach Tzedek, sec. 2.
This applies with regard to prayer. With regard to walking four cubits, it is acceptable (Mahadura Basra of the present work, sec. 2:6).
R. Shlomo Luria (1510-1573), one of the foremost Ashkenazic halachic authorities of his age.
This translation follows one of two interpretations of the term afundaso — “his undershirt” and “his money-belt” — offered by R. Ovadiah of Bartenura in his gloss to Berachos 9:5 (where Rambam understands it to mean an undershirt). Mishnah Berurah (91:11) cites both interpretations.
Shabbos 10a.
Mahadura Basra 2:2 implies that “in these lands” wearing socks is a dictate of modesty.
Or: sandals.
The situation described apparently assumes that instead of trousers, men customarily wore a long belted shirt that hung below the waist, as well as leggings and/or socks.
Ishei Yisrael (3:4) permits one to wear gloves — and likewise an overcoat — during prayer when it is very cold. Leket Tziyunim VeHe’aros cites views that require one to remove boots or galoshes before prayer, since they are not customarily worn in the presence of distinguished people.
This is a mark of reverence, though wearing a jacket or coat can serve as an alternative (see sec. 183:6 below). Indeed, it is customary in many circles to wear a jacket for prayer. The above source also states that while reciting the Grace after Meals, a G‑d-fearing person will make a point of wearing a hat, and not only a light head-covering, in order to practice the ituf recommended at that time. (Ituf can mean wearing either a tallis or a hat.) From our text, we see that ituf is also recommended for prayer. This is one reason for the practice of chassidim to make a point of wearing a hat for prayer, in addition to the yarmulke worn at all times.

As to the mystical dimension of this practice: The Divine soul in every Jew comprises five levels. Of these, the three “lower” levels (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshamah) are invested in him consciously; two sublime levels (Chayah, Yechidah) remain transcendent — lit., “encompassing,” which translates the Kabbalistic term makkifim. Since these two levels of the soul find physical expression in the dual head-covering mentioned above, the head-coverings themselves are popularly referred to as “two makkifim.” Wearing two head-coverings during prayer thus enhances one’s ability to access and activate all the levels of one’s soul, and to make one’s acceptance of the Yoke of Heaven more far-reaching.

See the maamarim of 5683 (1923), p. 140; Toras Menachem — Hisvaaduyos 5748 (1988), Vol. 4, p. 164; and the documented discussion in the Hiskashrus weekly journal (Tze’irei Agudas Chabad, Kfar Chabad), Issue #537.
טור. ראה לעיל ריש סי' צ. רב הונא ברכות כד, סוע"ב.
כדלעיל סי' עד ס"ב.
כדלעיל שם ס"א.
ברכות כד, סע"ב (ורש"י ד"ה היתה) וכה רע"א. טור ושו"ע ס"א.
טור. לבוש ס"א.
ס"ז וש"נ.
רמב"ם פ"ד מהל' תפלה הרי זה, הובא בטור. שו"ע שם.
שבת י, א.
טור בשם ספר התרומה סי' רטז. רבינו פרץ בהגהות סמ"ק סי' יא (אות קכד), הובא בהגהות מיימוניות פ"ה מהל' תפלה אות ח. ר"ן שבת שם (ד, א ד"ה ומהא). וראה רא"ש שבת שם סי' יט (וב"ח בדעתו). שו"ע ס"ב. טעם למנהג חב"ד להתחיל לחגור אזור לתפלה רק לאחרי הנישואין ראה אגרות קודש כ"ק אדמו"ר ח"י ע' שצג [וראה שם ע' שצד מנהג כמה מקומות בפולין. ושם ע' שצג באם כבר נהג בזה קודם הנישואין שאין לו לבטל מנהגו]. וראה פסקי הסידור סי' עח.
עמוס ד, יב. וראה לעיל מהדו"ב סי' א סוף ס"ו וש"נ.
הגהות סמ"ק שם. ר"ן שם. שו"ע ורמ"א שם. וראה לקוטי לוי"צ אג"ק ע' רז.
כדלקמן סי' רו ס"ו שצריך ליזהר מלבו רואה את הערוה בכל הברכות וש"נ. וראה גם לעיל סי' מו ס"ב.
מ"א ס"ק ב. וראה להלן ס"ה.
רבינו ירוחם נתיב ג סוף ח"ד בשם יש מי שכתב. מ"א ס"ק א. וראה פסקי הסדור ע' כא.
מסכת סופרים פי"ד הט"ו בשם יש אומרים. רבינו ירוחם נתיב טז ח"ז. עי' ב"י שכן הלכה. שו"ע ס"ג בשם י"א. לבוש ס"ג. וראה לקמן סי' רו ס"ז.
כל בו סי' יא בשם הר"פ. שו"ע שם.
תשב"ץ סי' תקמז, וכל בו שם בשם הר"מ. מ"א ס"ק ג.
ראה במהדו"ב שם ס"ו וש"נ. (ובמהדו"ק שם ס"ז כ' שמדת חסידות שלא ילך אפילו פחות מד' אמות ושלא לישב כלל בגילוי הראש. ובסי' מו ס"ב כ' שמדת צניעות וקדושה הוא שלא יהא בגילוי הראש). ובמהדו"ב שם מוסיף שעכשיו בזמן הזה לעולם אסור לילך או אפילו לישב בגילוי הראש משום צניעות עיי"ש. וראה גם לקמן סי' רפב ס"ו. פסקי דינים לצ"צ סי' ב. מ"מ וציונים כאן.
תרומת הדשן סי' י. שו"ע ס"ד. וראה לעיל סי' עד ס"ג. והיינו לגבי אמירת ברכה, אבל לגבי הליכה בגילוי ראש מועיל כדלעיל סי' ב מהדו"ב ס"ו. ולענין נפילת אפים ראה לקמן סי' קלא ס"א.
ב"י. שו"ע שם.
בתשובה סי' עב.
רמב"ם פ"ה מהל' תפלה ה"ה, הובא בטור. שו"ע ס"ה. וראה רש"י ברכות נד, א ד"ה בפונדתו: חגור חלול ונותנים בו מעות.
שבת שם י, א (ראה שם בתוס' ד"ה רמי).
רמב"ם שם. שו"ע שם.
ב"י. וראה לקמן סי' קכח סמ"ד. וראה לעיל סי' נג סכ"א. ולענין שליח ציבור ראה לעיל סי' נג סי"ז. ועי' לעיל מהדו"ב סי' ב ס"ב וש"נ.
ב"ח. מ"א ס"ק ה.
נעלי בית.
ב"ח ומ"א שם.
רמב"ם פ"ה מהל' תפלה ה"ה. שו"ע ס"ו.
רב כהנא בשבת שם י, א.
טור ורמ"א ס"ו. וראה לקמן סי' צח ס"ד.
ראה לעיל מהדו"ב סי' א סוף ס"ו וש"נ.
רש"י שבת שם ד"ה הכון.
רש"י שם ד"ה ופכר. מהר"י אבוהב הובא בב"י סי' צה. ב"ח שם. אלי' זוטא שם ס"ק ב.
עי' לקמן סי' צה ס"ד.
עי' אלי' זוטא שם וט"ז סי' צה ס"ק ג.
רבא שם (ראה ב"י סי' צה).
ט"ז שם.
סעיף ד.
Translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger and Uri Kaploun.
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