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By Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:

SHEMONEH ESREH should be recited standing, but not on top of an object (see 90:1-3), not leaning against anything (94:8), and not carrying a load (see 97:5) or holding anything except a LULAV or a prayer book (96:1-2). If it is necessary for a person to recite it while sitting, riding, or walking (see 89:8), if possible he should stand at the beginning and end and at the places where it is necessary to bow (see below), and if possible he should repeat it afterward while standing; see 94:4-5,7,9. A sick person may recite it while lying on his side or may go over it in his mind (94:6). A person who recites it should stand with his legs together, his eyes looking downward, and his hands over his heart (see 95:1-3;91:6), and must avoid gross behavior or distractions (see 97:1-4). He must bend his knees and bow at the beginning and end of the first and next to last blessings (see 113:1-8;121:1); some say that he should take three steps forward before starting (95:1). At the end of the recitation, he must take three steps backward while bowing (see 123: 1,3-4), and should not return to his place immediately (see 123:2); but the leader does not do this at the end of the repetition (123:5).

In circumstances under which it is forbidden to recite SHEMA (see Ch.6), reciting SHEMONEH ESREH is also forbidden (90:26-27). A person should not recite it or study Torah if he needs to go to the toilet or perform other bodily functions (see 92:1-3,8-9;97:1-3;103:1-3). If possible, he should wash his hands first, or at least clean them (see 92:4-7), and should not touch dirty parts of the body (92:7). A person should recite it only fully clothed (see 74:6;91:1,5,6;98:4), wearing a belt (see 91:2), with his head covered (see 91:3-6), and facing in the direction of the Temple (see 94:1-4). He should pause for a while before beginning it (see also 105:1, as well as 100:1 on preparing for it) and after ending it (see 93:1), and should not begin it unless he is in a calm and serious mood (see 93:2-4). It is desirable to give charity before reciting it (92:10). An intoxicated person should not recite it (see 99:1). All men who are exempt from SHEMA are exempt from SHEMONEH ESREH; see 106:1. Women are required to recite it, and children should be taught to do so (106:1). Even a person who is studying Torah must stop to recite it; see 106:2.

A person who recites SHEMONEH ESREH should concentrate on the meaning of what he is saying; should be humble, as though he were petitioning a king (98:1,3,5); should not be distracted by other thoughts (98:1-2); should remember that the prayers are a replacement for the Temple service (98:4); and should recite the blessings with the proper intentions (see 101:1). The words should be recited silently, but not audibly to others if this will disturb them (see 101:2-3); they may be recited in any language (see 101:4). If a person wishes to recite SHEMONEH ESREH more than once, he must add something to it at each repetition; but this must not be done by a congregation, or on a Sabbath or holiday, or for an additional service (MUSAF), or by a person who does not have the proper intent (107:1-4;234:1). A person must not interrupt his SHEMONEH ESREH or move from his place if at all possible (see 104:1-4,8), even to respond to other prayers (104:7). On what to do if interrupted see 104:5-6; on what to do if a SHEMONEH ESREH was missed see 108:1-12 and 234:2; on cases of doubt see 107:1; on what a person does if he arrives late and cannot catch up before the repetition of SHEMONEH ESREH see 109:1-3.

A person should try to pray with a congregation or at the same time as the congregation; in or facing a synagogue (see 90:7,9,11) or house of study (see 90:18); or in a sheltered place that has windows facing Jerusalem (see 90:4-5;94:9). On the effort that a person should take to pray with a congregation see 90:16-17. A person should not pray in an unsafe place (see 90:6) or with his back to a synagogue (see 90:7), and should not pass a synagogue while services are being held there (see 90:8). When praying in a synagogue, a person should pray together with the congregation if possible (90:10,18), should behave properly (90:13), and should not leave anyone there alone (90:15). A person should hurry when going to a synagogue, but not when leaving it (90:12), and should try to arrive there early (90:14) and not start to pray immediately on arriving (90:20). If possible, a person should always pray in the same synagogue and should have a fixed place there (90:19), preferably next to a wall (see 90:21) and not next to the entrance (see 90:20). If possible, a person should not pray facing another person or a decoration (see 90:22-23), or alongside or behind his teacher (see 90:24-25), and should not be close to a person who is reciting SHEMONEH ESREH except when praying or studying Torah (see 102:1-5).

Shulchan Aruch, Copyright (c) 2000 Project Genesis, Inc.