Chapter 8: Prayer attire

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Chapter 8: Prayer attire[1]

  1. Attire that is befitting for the presence of a king:

One who stands to pray Shemoneh Esrei needs to view himself as if he is standing before a king and making his requests before him. Accordingly, one must be dressed accordingly in a form of dress that shows his respect and fear of the king.

  1. Bare chested:[2]

It is forbidden for one to Daven shirtless, with one’s chest showing.

Bedieved: Nonetheless, Bedieved, if one already prayed bare chested, the prayer remains valid.

Time of need: In a time of need that one does not have any shirt or covering available with which to cover his chest and stomach, then he may pray bare-chested.

  1. Wearing a belt-Gartel during Davening:[3]

Wears a belt throughout the day: One who is accustomed to wear a belt throughout the day is required to also wear a belt [called a Gartel] during prayer. One is, however, not required to wear a belt when he recites blessings.

Does not wear a belt throughout the day: One who is not accustomed to wearing a belt throughout the day, is not required to wear a belt during Davening so long as his clothing creates a separation between his heart and below the waist. Nonetheless, the above is only for the letter of the law however there is an act of piety to wear a belt for prayer even if he is not accustomed to wearing one throughout the day.[4] If, however, there is no separation between his heart and below his waist, such as one who is wearing a loose robe with no underclothing, then he is required to wear a belt for Davening and the saying of blessings.

Gartel wearing:[5] It is based upon the above law that it is the custom amongst Chassidim to Daven wearing a Gartel around their waist, as although it is not worn throughout the day, and hence not technically required from the letter of the law, it at the very least contains a Midas Chassidus. Most of Jewry however is not accustomed to wear a Gartel for prayer, and various justifications have been written behind their position.

  1. Davening barefoot:[6]

Not acceptable attire within community:  If it is not the common practice in one’s country for him to appear barefoot before the leaders, [as is the case in western society], then one may not pray barefooted.

Acceptable attire within community: However, in those countries in which it is common to appear barefooted in front of leaders, such as in many Arab countries, then it is allowed to pray barefooted.

  1. May one wear slippers for Davening?[7]

One may be lenient to wear slippers during Davening, if they are clean and respectable to receive guests in them. Nonetheless, it is best to wear proper shoes for Davening, and if the slippers are not acceptable to be worn before respectable people, then from the letter of the law, they may not be worn for Shemoneh Esrei.

  1. Wearing gloves:[8]

One may not wear gloves while Davening [Shemoneh Esrei] as is done by travelers. [If, however, one is cold some Poskim rule he may wear gloves to protect him from the cold. Other Poskim, however rule it is forbidden to wear gloves even in such a case, and so is implied from Admur. Practically, if one cannot concentrate on his prayers due to the cold, then he may wear it.]

  1. May one Daven with his hands in his pocket?[9]

One is required to stand [before G-d] during the prayer [of Shemoneh Esrei] like a servant stands before his master, in a way of awe, fear, and trepidation.  Likewise, one is not to place his hands on his loins, as this is a form of arrogance. [Some understand from this Halacha that it comes to negate the placing of one’s hands in his pockets during Shemoneh Esrei, as it is not a dignified manner in which a servant stands before his master, and likewise often entails placing one’s hands by his loins. Accordingly, even placing the hands in the pockets of a short winter jacket would be negated. Nonetheless, if one’s hands are cold and it disturbs the person’s concentration, then he may enter his hands into his pockets for the sake of being able to concentrate on his prayer.] 

During other parts of Davening: The above restriction against placing the hands in the pockets only applies during the actual prayer of Shemoneh Esrei, and not during other parts of Davening.

8. Wearing a Yarmulke:[10]

It is forbidden for one to utter any of G-d’s names without a head covering.

Furthermore, some Poskim rule that it is forbidden to enter into a Synagogue without a head covering. Accordingly, it is forbidden for one to pray without a Yarmulke, and this applied even in previous times when wearing a head covering was not customary at all times. See our correspondence Sefer “Awaking like a Jew” Chapter 6 Halacha 5 for the full details of this subject.


[1] See Admur 91:1-5; Kaf Hachaim ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Tefila Kehilchasa 7:25-42; Ishei Yisrael 10

[2] Admur 91:1-2; Ketzos Hashulchan 12:5

[3] Admur 91:2; Ketzos Hashulchan 12:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 91:1; Shulchan Menachem 1:61

[4] M”B 91:5 in name of Magen Giborim; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid;

[5] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 91:1

[6] See Admur 91:5; Ketzos Hashulchan 12:5

[7] See Mishnas Yosef 4:4; Leket Hakemach Hachadash 91:9; Shevet Hakehasi 3:41; Orchos Chaim [Spinka] 91:3; Ishei Yisrael 10:6; Piskeiy Teshuvos 91:4

[8] Admur 91:5; M”A 91:5; Olas Tamid 91:3; Elya Raba 91:6; Bach 91; Kaf Hachaim 91:22; M”B 91:11; Ketzos Hashulchan 12:5

[9] Admur 95:4

[10] See Admur Basra 2:6; 91:3; 206:7; M”B 2:11; Piskeiy Teshuvos 2:9

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