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 BESHALACH AND TU BESHVAT:

View Complete List

Reaching Out
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Song of Truth
Shlomo Katz - 5761

A Table in the Wilderness
Shlomo Katz - 5758

> A Wise Person Takes Bones
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

I Am a Soul
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

The Reason the Jews were not led through the Land of the Plishtim
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

ArtScroll

A Request
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5768

Freight and Handling
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Abundant Appreciation
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Wise Water
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Spiritual and Physical
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

As the Season Turns
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Seamless Song
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

What He Really Wants
Shlomo Katz - 5775

A Stiff-Necked People
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Thanks for the Suffering
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5756



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