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A Meeting of Eyes

When people’s eyes meet, a deeper level of communication is achieved. For this reason, one of the most important aspects of body language is where we direct our eyes. When reciting Kedusha, it is customary to lift one’s head towards the heavens as if one’s eyes are connecting with Hashem (Mishna Berura 125,5).

Closing one’s eyes blocks out the physical world and all of the associated distractions. In fact, our Sages said: “Anyone who does not recite Shemoneh Esrei with his eyes closed will not merit seeing the Divine Presence when he leaves this world.” For this reason, many prefer reciting Shemoneh Esrei with their eyes closed (Mishna Berura 95,5).

At times, a person might find it helpful to say Shemoneh Esrei while looking into a siddur. In such a case, it is perfectly acceptable to pray with open eyes (Mishna Berura 95,5). Every individual must decide whether to open or close his eyes based on what he feels will promote optimal communication with Hashem (Mishna Berura 93,2).

If one chooses to keep his eyes open, he should be careful not to start looking around. Concentration can be maintained only if one is completely focused on prayer and nothing else in the room. Whether one’s eyes are opened or closed, his head should be inclined slightly towards the ground (Shulchan Aruch 95,2).


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 
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