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Chapter 12:1-3
Preparing Oneself to Pray

1. [Amos 4:12]states: "Prepare to meet your G-d, O Israel" - i.e., a person should prepare himself to stand in the presence of G-d, blessed be He. He should wear becoming clothes when he goes to pray, as if he were presenting himself before an honorable official.* Even if one prays alone in his house, he should dress himself in the proper manner.

* {The Shulchan Oruch HoRav 91:5 writes that it is improper to pray while barefoot or while wearing only sandals. The Misnoh Beruroh 91:12 adds that it is improper to pray in boots if it is not customary to stand in the presence of great people while wearing them. Similarly, that text rules against praying while wearing gloves and advises wearing a second hat in addition to the yarmulke during prayer.}

In places where it is customary to wear a belt, it is forbidden to pray until one puts on a belt.

2. Giving charity before prayer is desirable, as [Psalms 17:15] states: "I will see your face with righteousness." Also, before each prayer service one should resolve to fulfill the mitzvoh to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), having the intention to love every single Jew as oneself.

If, heaven forbid, there is a division of hearts among Jews on the physical plane, then there is also no unity in the spiritual realms. In contrast, the unity on this physical plane causes a oneness and clinging of the souls in the spiritual realms. Also, this unifies their prayers. The greater communal quality of these prayers makes them more desirable before G-d, blessed be His name.

3. [Ecclesiastes 4:17] states: "Guard your feet when you walk to the house of G-d." [Brochos 23a] explains that the term "your feet" [was used euphemistically and] refers to one's excretory organs, which are located near the feet.

Therefore, before prayer a person should check to see whether he must urinate or defecate. If he feels even a slight need to relieve himself, he is forbidden to pray. He is even forbidden to recite words of Torah as long as his body is detestable, until he cleans his system.*

* {There is no opinion which prevents a person who feels a need to relieve himself, but can contain himself for an hour and twelve minutes, from studying Torah. Some opinions are lenient and also allow such a person to recite the Shema and other portions of the prayer service (Mishnoh Beuroh 92:7)}

Should he have prayed despite the fact that he felt a need, his prayer is acceptable after the fact, provided he feels that he would have able to contain himself for the time it takes to walk a parsoh (one hour an twelve minutes). If not, despite the fact that he has already prayed, his prayer is considered an abomination and he must pray again. *

* {Most authorities (Mogen Avrohom, Shulchon Oruch HoRav, Chayei Odom) maintain that this applies only if one feels he must defecate. If he needs only to urinate, he is not required to pray again. However, other opinions are most stringent.}

Others maintain that a person who can contain himself for the time it takes to takes to walk a porsoh is granted permission to pray. One may rely on this opinion if waiting to relieve oneself will cause one to miss the time for the morning prayers. (See also Chapter 18, Law 16.)

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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.

 

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