“A person should not wear gloves while praying, for this is a sign of haughtiness” (Mishnah Berurah 91,12). Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach explains that wearing gloves for tefillah is considered to be a sign of arrogance, only if they are worn purely for aesthetic reasons. If one is unable to concentrate on his tefillos as a result of the cold, he is permitted to keep on his gloves (Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as cited in Halichos Shlomo 2). In the same vein, any winter clothing that enhances one’s tefillos is permitted. Therefore, the halachah permits wearing heavy coats, sweaters and any garment that one requires in order to maintain concentration in his prayers. It is certainly better to wear heavy clothing and pray with a minyan in the cold than to pray alone in one’s heated home (ibid. 2,18; Responsa Be’er Moshe 4,39).
There is one winter garment that the Chiddushei Harim and Sefas Emes said one should try to avoid wearing during prayer. They understood that just as one is obligated to make a separation between one’s heart and the lower part of the body (see Dressed to Serve the King I), a person should be careful not to erect a barrier between one’s mind and heart. When one wears a scarf he separates his heart from his mind, and for this reason they advised that one take off his scarf for Shemoneh Esrei (Likutei Imrei Emes p. 108).
In the Beis Hamikdash
Wearing a money belt or pouch around one’s waist is a sign that one is currently focused on his financial affairs. Such a garment shows a lack of dignity, and one would not appear in front of a distinguished person with it on. The Shulchan Aruch writes that a person should not wear a money belt during prayer (Shulchan Aruch 91,5).
Similarly, when entering the Beis Hamikdash it was forbidden to wear a money belt. In fact, there are many halachos that draw an analogy between entering the Temple and our tefillah today. Based on this, some authorities suggest that while a person is involved with prayer, he has the status of a person standing in the Beis Hamikdash (Einayim L’mishpat, Berachos 63,2). We can extrapolate from this halachah to present-day situations. A person would not visit an important individual with a cell phone strapped on his belt. Therefore, contemporary authorities write that one should not pray in this manner (heard from Rav Azriel Auerbach, shlita).
Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org