Torah.org 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 Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Learning How To Walk
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Jealousy or Love?
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

I Too Was Struck
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

ArtScroll

Bris Milah: Mark of Distinction
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

No Second Thoughts
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Defying Natural Order
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

> Uniquely Human
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

Use Them or Lose Them
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Worthy of the Brocha!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Cloudy Vision
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Participating in G-ds Master Plan
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

You Shall Live by Them
Shlomo Katz - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Why The Land of Israel?
- 5768

The Wandering Jew
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Spiritual Lamarckism
Rabbi Dovid Begoun - 5766

That Fire Within
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information