SECTION 96 One should Eliminate All Distractions so that One may Concentrate. (1-3)

סימן צו שֶׁיִּמְנַע כָּל הַטְּרָדוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּכַוֵּן וּבוֹ ג' סְעִיפִים:

1 While reciting Shemoneh Esreh, one should not hold [any of the following] in his hand:1 tefillin, any of the Holy Scriptures,2 a full bowl, a knife, coins, or a loaf of bread, because his thoughts will be occupied with them, lest they fall. This will distract him and divert his concentration. According to the letter of the law, it is permitted to hold other objects that will not be spoiled nor will they harm him if they fall. The optimum manner of performing the mitzvah, however, is not to hold anything [while reciting Shemoneh Esreh], but instead to clasp one’s hands, as described in sec. 95:4.

It is permitted [during Sukkos] to hold a lulav, even though it may become invalid if it falls. Nevertheless, since holding it is a mitzvah, one is not distracted by it.3

א כְּשֶׁהוּא מִתְפַּלֵּל לֹא יֶאֱחֹז בְּיָדוֹ1 תְּפִלִּין,א וְלֹא סֵפֶר מִכִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ,ב,2 וְלֹא קְעָרָה מְלֵאָה, וְלֹא סַכִּין, וְלֹא מָעוֹת,ג וְלֹא כִּכָּר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלִּבּוֹ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁלֹּא יִפֹּל וְיִטָּרֵד וְתִתְבַּטֵּל כַּוָּנָתוֹ. אֲבָל שְׁאָר דְּבָרִים שֶׁאִם יִפְּלוּ לֹא יֻפְסְדוּ וְלֹא יַזִּיקוּ לוֹ – מֻתָּר לֶאֱחֹזד מִן הַדִּין. אֶלָּא שֶׁמִּצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר שֶׁלֹּא לֶאֱחֹז כְּלוּם, אֶלָּא יִהְיוּ יָדָיו כְּפוּתִין כְּעוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר סִימָן צ"ה סָעִיף ד'.

וְלוּלָב בִּזְמַנּוֹ מֻתָּר לֶאֱחֹז,ה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאִם יִפֹּל אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּפָּסֵל, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁהָאֲחִיזָה הִיא מִצְוָהו – אֵינוֹ נִטְרָד בִּשְׁבִילוֹ:3

Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch (Kehot Publication Society)

The new layout – with the original text and the facing translation – provides a unique user-friendly approach to studying the Alter Rebbe’s work. An inclusive commentary provides insightful explanations and guidelines for actual practice.

2 It is permitted to hold a Siddur while reciting Shemoneh Esreh.4 Since one is holding it for the purpose of prayer, he is not distracted by it. Nevertheless, if it was not in his hand before he began reciting Shemoneh Esreh, he should not seek it out while praying, because that would constitute an interruption.5 If, however, [the Siddur] was ready in a designated place, one may take it even in the midst of She­moneh Esreh, provided he takes it in order to pray from it.

Whoever prays from a Siddur should make a point of first marking all the places [in the Siddur] from which he must pray during that prayer service,6 instead of searching for them in the midst of his prayers, for this would cause an interruption and prevent him from concentrating properly.

ב מֻתָּר לֶאֱחֹז סִדּוּר בְּיָדוֹ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמִּתְפַּלֵּל,ז,4 שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁאוֹחֲזוֹ לְצֹרֶךְ הַתְּפִלָּהח – אֵינוֹ נִטְרָד בִּשְׁבִילוֹ. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם לֹא הָיָה בְּיָדוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁהִתְחִילט – לֹא יְחֲזֵ(ו)ר אַחֲרָיו בַּתְּפִלָּה לִטְּלוֹ, מִשּׁוּם הֶפְסֵק.5 אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה בְּמָקוֹם מְיֻחָד שֶׁהוּא מוּכָן אָז מֻתָּר לִטְּלוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בְּתוֹךְ הַתְּפִלָּה, וְהוּא שֶׁנּוֹטְלוֹ כְּדֵי לְהִתְפַּלֵּל מִתּוֹכוֹ.

וְכָל הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל מִתּוֹךְ הַסִּדּוּר – יִזָּהֵר שֶׁיִּרְשֹׁם תְּחִלָּה כָּל הַמְּקוֹמוֹת שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּאוֹתָהּ תְּפִלָּה,י,6 וְלֹא יְחַפֵּשׂ אַחֲרֵיהֶם בְּתוֹךְ הַתְּפִלָּה, כִּי יַפְסִיק עַל יְדֵי זֶה וְלֹא יוּכַל לְכַוֵּן יָפֶה:

3 If a holy text fell to the floor in front of a person [in the midst of Shemoneh Esreh] and he cannot concentrate satisfactorily because of this, he is permitted to pick it up after he has completed the blessing that he is reciting at the time.

ג נָפַל סֵפֶר לְפָנָיו עַל הָאָרֶץ וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן יָפֶה מִפְּנֵי זֶהיא – מֻתָּר לְהַגְבִּיהּוֹ כְּשֶׁיְּסַיֵּם אוֹתָהּ בְּרָכָה שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד בָּהּ: