Halacha for Monday 20 Tevet 5781 January 4 2021

Question: May one recite the Amida prayer in front of a curtain (covering the Aron Kodesh) which is adorned with various designs?

Answer: The Rambam writes in one of his responses (Freiman edition, Chapter 20): “It is incorrect to pray in front of garments with designs on them, even if the designs are not protruding. We usually close our eyes when it happens that we must pray in front of a wall or garment adorned with designs.” We see clearly from the words of the Rambam that it is incorrect to pray in front of clothing or a curtain adorned with designs. The underlying reason for this prohibition is because these images can cause one’s concentration to be disturbed while praying. The Tur, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 90, Section 23), and Rabbeinu Yosef Haim in his Sefer Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Yitro) all rule likewise.

In the Sefer Ohr Le’Tzion (Volume 2, page 64), Hagaon Harav Ben-Zion Abba Shaul zt”l is quoted as saying that there is a distinction regarding this Halacha: If the designs are on a garment that is usually not in front of the person when he prays, for instance, if one happens to pray in a place where there is a colorful garment adorned with designs hanging which one is unaccustomed to, then one should abstain from praying in front of such a garment. However, if one is praying in front of a curtain covering the Aron Kodesh which one is always accustomed to having in front of him, we need not worry so much about a lack of concentration and he may in fact pray in front of such a curtain.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l in his Responsa Yabia Omer (Volume 9, page 236) disagrees with the Ohr Le’Tzion on this point as it makes more sense to say that a curtain adorned with designs will always cause one’s concentration to be disturbed and we cannot make a distinction between a curtain and a garment which just happens to be in front of a person by chance, as the Poskim did not mention this distinction at all.

Besides for this, the Zohar, in addition to other works of the Mekubalim (such as the Sefer Charedim by Rabbeinu Elazar Ezkari), states that one who is not careful to shut his eyes during the Amida prayer is acting disrespectfully towards the holy presence of Hashem which faces one who prays. The following are the words of the holy Zohar about this matter: “One who opens one’s eyes during [the Amida] prayer, when his soul departs his body, the Angel of Death hurries to him and he will not merit seeing the presence of Hashem upon passing away, for he would always disregard the presence of Hashem by looking at it while praying. About him does the verse state, ‘For those who honor me,’ whoever honors Hashem’s presence, ‘I shall honor,’ Hashem shall honor him by allowing him to merit seeing His presence upon passing away, as another verse states, ‘For man cannot see me and live,’ one cannot see Hashem while he is alive, but after he has passed away, he can see. The verse continues, ‘And those who disregard Me,’ whoever disregards the presence of Hashem during prayer by allowing his eyes to roam around and look at what is in front of him, ‘Shall be treated with disdain,’ he shall also be treated disrespect fully when he passes on.” Bearing all of this in mind, one should not be lenient about this matter at all and every person should be very careful to either close his eyes while praying, even if one is in a place where there is nothing in front of him that would disrupt his concentration or focus one’s eyes on the Siddur in front of him, for this is also considered having one’s eyes closed.

Summary: One should be careful to either close one’s eyes or focus on one’s Siddur during the Amida prayer and one should not be looking forward or from side to side while praying.

Ask the Rabbi


הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Question: May one eat bread without washing one’s hands if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and instead holds it with a napkin and like?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (107b) states: “The Sages permitted a cloth (i.e. they permitted eating bread without first washing one’s hands by wrapping one’s hands in a cloth) for those eating Terumah (meaning that during the time when the Bet Hamikdash still stood, befo......

Read Halacha

Salt on the Table

Question: Is there a halachic necessity to have salt placed on the table before reciting the Hamotzi blessing and is it necessary to observe this custom on weekdays as well? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 40a) states: “Rava bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav Chiya: One may not recite the Hamo......

Read Halacha

Eating without First Washing One’s Hands

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one may not be lenient and nullify the edict of washing one’s hands prior to eating bread; even if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and merely holds it with gloves or a napkin, one may still not defy this edict. If one......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal

The Enactment of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal There is a rabbinic enactment to wash one’s hands before sitting down to eat a bread meal. The Mishnah in Masechet Eduyot (Chapter 5) relates that Rabbi Eliezer ben Chanoch was excommunicated for having raised doubts about the necess......

Read Halacha


The “Asher Yatzar” Blessing vs. Birkat Hamazon

Question: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed if one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing on food and before he does so, he uses the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing first and......

Read Halacha

Question: If one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing after eating any food (for instance, by eating a Kezayit, approximately twenty-seven grams, of fruit) and before reciting the after-blessing, one used the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, which blessing must one recite first: Should one first recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing or the after-blessing on the food one ate?

Answer: This question has already been discussed by the Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, one of the foremost Acharonim who lived approximately five-hundred years ago in Eastern Poland and authored the Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo and others) in his responsa (Chapter 97) and writes that if one becomes obli......

Read Halacha

A Power Outage on Shabbat

Question: Last Shabbat, there was a power outage and for six hours, we had no electricity. Later on in the day when the problem was repaired, the Plata (electric hotplate) turned back on. Is it permissible to eat the foods that were warmed on the hotplate? Answer: Regarding the aforementioned mat......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Place One Has Eaten

Question: Is one obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically where one has eaten bread or may one recite this blessing elsewhere? Answer: One who eats a bread meal must recite Birkat Hamazon in the place where one has eaten and one may not go to a different place and recite the blessing there......

Read Halacha