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Hilchos Tefila 89 (page 240)
מסעיף ה עד סעיף ח

Studying Torah before Davening
Eating in the Middle of the Night
Showering before Davening

Studying Torah before davening
According to some poskim, once the horizon lights up it is forbidden for someone who typically davens alone to commence learning Torah at home or in a shul that will not have a minyan. It is possible that he will get involved in his studies and neglect davening. Other poskim hold that this rule goes into effect only close to sunrise, the prime time for davening. A person in this situation is permitted to start learning if he appoints someone to remind him about davening. It is permissible to learn before davening Ma'ariv.
( סעיף ו וס"ק ל, לב ו־לד; ביאורים ומוספים ומוספים דרשו, 39 ו־41)
Eating in the middle of the night
It is forbidden to start a meal (i.e. bread or cake larger than an egg or intoxicating drinks) from a half an hour before dawn until one dons tefillin, recites Shema and davens Shemoneh Esrei. A meal started earlier than that may be continued until alos. It is likely that a meal which started during the forbidden time must be stopped before alos. According to the Zohar, once a person has slept at night he should not eat unless he needs the energy for davening or learning.
( סעיף ה, ס"ק כז-כט, וביה"ל ד"ה צריך וד"ה ויש; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 35, 36 ו־38)
Showering before davening
After alos, it is forbidden to enter a bathhouse to bathe until one has davened. Many contemporary poskim include modern showers in the prohibition. According to some, showering is permitted only in preparation for tevila in a mikva. Other poskim do not link showering with the mikva, but they forbid the use of soap. A third opinion permits bathing only in the case of someone who would find it difficult to daven without bathing first, while a fourth opinion permits only washing the face, hands and feet (though other parts of the body may be washed - even with soap -in cases when doing so is necessary).
( סעיף ז וס"ק לו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 42)

  • It is generally forbidden to eat before davening. The famished and infirm may eat before davening, as can those who are eating for health or taking medications (including vitamins).
  • It is forbidden to drink before davening. It is permissible to drink water or coffee /tea, but according to the early poskim, one should not add milk or sugar. Later poskim permitted using milk and sugar, since it is difficult for us to tolerate these drinks without them.
  • Traveling before davening Shacharis, Mincha or Ma'ariv is forbidden because it is wrong to get involved in one's own needs before davening. Travel also has the potential to overwhelm people and cause them to neglect davening.

  • Davening early versus davening in transit while seated

  • The earliest times for the parts of davening

  • Standing on a raised area


PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.