SECTION 93 The Requirement to Pause before Praying. (1-4)

סימן צג קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְפַּלֵּל צָרִיךְ לִשְׁהוֹת וּבוֹ ד' סְעִיפִים:

1 Before one prays, he must pause for a time1 in the place where he is praying, in order to direct his heart toward the Omnipresent, for it is written,2 “Happy are those who dwell3 in Your house,” and [only] afterwards [is it written], “they will praise You forever.” [Similarly, one must pause] for a time after praying, so that his prayer will not appear as a burden from which he is hastening to be released. This is implied by the verse,4 “Indeed, the righteous will give thanks to Your name,” and after that [it is written], “the upright will dwell in Your presence.”5

The pious men of the early generations would pause [before and after prayer] for literally an hour, i.e., one 24th of a day.6 For other people7 a short time suffices, as long as it takes to walk the width of two entrances, i.e., eight handbreadths, as stated in sec. 90[:19].

Some people follow the custom of praying from a [prayer] book8 to increase their concentration.9 [With regard to such matters,] everything depends on what one feels within himself.

א הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּשְׁהֶהא בַּמָּקוֹם שֶׁמִּתְפַּלֵּלב שָׁעָה אַחַת קֹדֶם תְּפִלָּתוֹ,1 כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּכַוֵּן לִבּוֹ לַמָּקוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:ג,2 "אַשְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵי3 בֵיתֶךָ" וְאַחַר כָּךְ "יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה", וְשָׁעָה אַחַת אַחַר תְּפִלָּתוֹ, שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא נִרְאֵית עָלָיו כְּמַשְׂאוֹי שֶׁמְּמַהֵר לָצֵאת מִמֶּנָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:ד,4 "אַךְ צַדִּיקִים יוֹדוּ לִשְׁמֶךָ" וְאַחַר כָּךְ "יֵשְׁבוּ יְשָׁרִים אֶת פָּנֶיךָ".5 וַחֲסִידִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִיםה הָיוּ שׁוֹהִין שָׁעָה מַמָּשׁ מִשָּׁעוֹת בֵּינוֹנִית, שֶׁהֵן כ"ד בְּמֵעֵת לְעֵת,ו,6 וְלִשְׁאָר עַם7 דַּי בְּשָׁעָה מוּעֶטֶתז כְּדֵי הִלּוּךְ ב' פְּתָחִים שֶׁהֵם ח' טְפָחִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן צ'.ח

יֵשׁ נוֹהֲגִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל מִתּוֹךְ הַסֵּפֶר,ט,8 כְּדֵי לְכַוֵּן מְאֹד.9 וְהַכֹּל לְפִי מַה שֶּׁהוּא מַרְגִּישׁ בְּנַפְשׁוֹ:י

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2 “One should embark on the recitation of Shemoneh Esreh10 only out of earnestness,”11 which is the submissiveness12 that stems from the fear of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written,13 “Serve G‑d with fear.” Implied is that prayer, which serves us as a substitute for the service [in the Beis HaMikdash],14 should be undertaken in fear.

One should not begin [to pray] out of jocularity, frivolity, or idle chatter,15 nor out of anger, but only out of the joy that is associated with a mitzvah, as from the comforting words of the Torah. For example, [Shemoneh Esreh should be] preceded by [the narrative of] the redemption from Egypt,16 or by the psalm beginning Tehillah LeDavid17 in which it is written,18 “He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him.... G‑d watches over all those who love Him.”

ב אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל10 אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ כֹּבֶד רֹאשׁ,יא,11 שֶׁהִיא הַכְנָעָהיב,12 מֵאֵימַת הַקב"ה,יג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:יד,13 "עִבְדוּ אֶת ה' בְּיִרְאָה", דְּהַיְנוּ הַתְּפִלָּה, שֶׁהִיא לָנוּ בִּמְקוֹם עֲבוֹדָהטו,14 – עֲשׂוּ אוֹתָהּ בְּיִרְאָה.טז

וְלֹא יַעֲמֹדיז לֹא מִתּוֹךְ שְׂחוֹק וְקַלּוּת רֹאשׁ וּדְבָרִים בְּטֵלִים,15 וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ כַּעַס, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂמְחָה שֶׁל מִצְוָה, כְּגוֹן דִּבְרֵי תַּנְחוּמִים שֶׁל תּוֹרָה,יח כְּגוֹן סָמוּךְ לִגְאֻלַּת מִצְרַיִם,16 אוֹ סָמוּךְ לִ"תְהִלָּה לְדָוִד"17 שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ:יט,18 "רְצוֹן יְרֵאָיו יַעֲשֶׂה ... שׁוֹמֵר ה' אֶת כָּל אֹהֲבָיו":

3 One should not begin [to pray] while in the midst of a judicial hearing, nor in the midst of a halachic query,15 lest he19 be preoccupied with it while praying and he be unable to focus his attention. Rather, [he should begin to pray] while in the midst [of the study] of defined Torah Law,20 concerning which there is no debate, [so that] he will not be preoccupied with it during his prayers. [Such study] is also considered as “joy associated with a mitzvah,” as it is written,21 “The precepts of G‑d are just, bringing joy to the heart.”

Nevertheless, if one was occupied in a halachic discussion and the congregation began praying, he should pray with them.22 This applies in particular in the present age, when we do not concentrate so fully in prayer.23 [The Sages] cautioned against becoming involved in halachic debate before praying only as an initial preference.

ג אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל מִתּוֹךְ דִּין וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ הֲלָכָה,כ,15 שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא לִבּוֹ19 טָרוּד בָּהּ בִּתְפִלָּתוֹ וְלֹא יוּכַל לְכַוֵּן יָפֶה, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ הֲלָכָה פְּסוּקָה,20 שֶׁאֵין לְפַלְפֵּל בָּהּ כְּלוּם וְלֹא יִטָּרֵד בָּהּ בַּתְּפִלָּה, וְהִיא נִקְרֵאת גַּם כֵּן שִׂמְחָה שֶׁל מִצְוָה,כא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:כב,21 "פִּקּוּדֵי ה' יְשָׁרִים מְשַׂמְּחֵי לֵב".כג

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם עָסַק בְּפִלְפּוּל הֲלָכָה וְהִתְחִילוּ צִבּוּר לְהִתְפַּלֵּל – יִתְפַּלֵּל עִמָּהֶם,כד,22 וּבִפְרָט עַכְשָׁו שֶׁאֵין מְכַוְּנִים כָּל כָּךְ בַּתְּפִלָּה.כה,23 וְלֹא הִזְהִירוּ אֶלָּא לְכַתְּחִלָּה, שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲסֹק בְּפִלְפּוּל קֹדֶם הַתְּפִלָּה:

4 [The Sages taught]24 that a person who is occupied with communal needs is considered as one occupied in Torah study. Some commentaries interpret this as referring to [the above directive concerning whether one should] begin to pray when in the midst of such a matter, for [dealing with communal needs] also makes one happy,25 provided it is a matter that is, like defined Torah law, not distracting.

Other commentaries interpret this teaching as referring [to the leniency granted for such individuals to continue their activities] without interrupting them in order to pray, just as one who is occupied with Torah study [to the extent that] his study is his [continuous] occupation26 is not required to interrupt it for prayer.27 It was explained above in sec. 70[:4] that one who is occupied with [pressing] communal needs should not interrupt himself even to recite the Shema. Certainly, this applies with regard to prayer.28

[Such a person] need not recite the Afternoon Service twice to compensate for the [omitted] Morning Service.29 Since at the time that he [would have been] obligated he was halachically exempt, he need not compensate for it at all.

ד הָעוֹסֵק בְּצָרְכֵי צִבּוּר – הֲרֵי זֶה כְּעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה.כו,24

יֵשׁ מְפָרְשִׁיםכז לְעִנְיַן לַעֲמֹד מִתּוֹכוֹ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל, שֶׁגַּם זוֹ שִׂמְחָה הִיא לוֹ25 שֶׁעוֹסֵק בְּצָרְכֵי צִבּוּר, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיְּהֵא דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ טִרְדָּה, דּוֹמֶה לַהֲלָכָה פְּסוּקָה.כח

וְיֵשׁ מְפָרְשִׁיםכט לְעִנְיָן שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ לִפְסֹק וּלְהִתְפַּלֵּל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה וְתוֹרָתוֹ אֻמָּנוּתוֹ26 – אֵין צָרִיךְ לִפְסֹק לִתְפִלָּה.ל,27 וּכְבָר נִתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ע'לא שֶׁהָעוֹסֵק בְּצָרְכֵי צִבּוּר אֲפִלּוּ לִקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵק, וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן לִתְפִלָּה.28

וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל מִנְחָה שְׁתַּיִםלב בִּשְׁבִיל תַּשְׁלוּמֵי שַׁחֲרִית,לג,29 שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁבִּשְׁעַת חוֹבָתוֹ הָיָה פָּטוּר מִמֶּנָּה מִן הַדִּין – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְתַשְׁלוּמִין כְּלָל: