Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Open Eyes

Although looking up to the heavens or down towards the ground inspires one at the start of prayer, 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 (Mishnah Berurah 95,5).

If one chooses to keep his eyes open, he should be careful and refrain from looking around. Pictures, signs, other people and a myriad of other things happening around a person can be the ruin of one’s entire tefillah. Concentration can be maintained only by focusing exclusively on prayer. Notwithstanding the benefits of closed eyes, at times a person may find it helpful to say Shemoneh Esrei while looking into a siddur. In his sefer Shem Olam the Chofetz Chaim writes that the first condition to concentrating during prayer is to pray from a siddur (addendum at the end of the book). The Arizal would pray from a siddur in order to increase his concentration in his tefillos (Mishnah Berurah 93,2).

“When you appear before the King with a sefer, this will cause him to revoke his evil thoughts” (Megillas Esther 9,25). The Vilna Gaon writes that the sefer referred to in this verse hints to the use of a siddur for prayer. Tefillah from a siddur helps to dispel improper thoughts that might enter one’s mind during tefillah (Even Sheleimah 9[2], Ma’aseh Rav 43). Halachic authorities write that seeing the letters of a siddur has a sublime effect on one’s prayers (Kaf Hachaim 96,9). Every individual must decide whether to open or close his eyes based on what he feels will promote optimal communication with Hashem (Mishnah Berurah 93,2).

Text Copyright © 2014 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



View Complete List

Mitzvah Lamp
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

The World of Learning
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Freeing the Spirit
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Real Story
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

How Yosef Got His Job
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

An Iota of Jealousy
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

> A Little Background Information
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Passive Action, Part 1
PLUS A Quick Review of the Laws of Chanukah

Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Rabbi Frand on Parshas VaYeishev
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Waning or Waxing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Analyzing The Imagery of A Familiar Chanukah Poem
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

The Dream Team
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759


The Hasmoneans Take a Stand: A History of Chanukah, Part II
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5774

The Key To Something More
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Nice Guys Finish Second
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

A Celebration of Spiritual Victory
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information