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Gazing at the Heavens

Before one starts to pray he should turn his eyes towards the windows (Mishnah Berurah 95,4). Looking towards the vast expanses of the universe and the blue of the sky will remind him “Who created all of this.” If during the course of his prayers his mind wanders, he should look again through the windows and try to regain his concentration (Mishnah Berurah 90,8).

In order to fulfill this directive the halachah stipulates that “There should be windows in the place where a person prays as the verse tells us, ‘The windows in his [Daniel’s] attic faced Yerushalayim’” (Berachos 34b according to Rashi). The practical halachah requires some windows in a beis kenesses to face Yerushalayim (Shulchan Aruch 90,4).

The Zohar writes, “A shul should have windows in order to enable the ascent of everyone’s tefillos. For this reason, it's impossible to pray properly in a shul which does not have windows … Just as the beis kenesses in the heavens has twelve windows, so too the beis hakenesses in this world should have twelve windows” (Zohar, Pekudei 251a). The Shulchan Aruch cites this Zohar as the halachah, and writes that a shul should have twelve windows (Shulchan Aruch 90,4).

Text Copyright © 2014 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



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