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 Hilchos Tefilla 90 (page 247)
 מסימן צ סעיף כג עד תחילת סימן צא

Davening Facing a Mural
Davening Near One's Father or Rebbe
If Tzoah Appeared During Davening

Davening facing a mural
A person should not daven facing a mirror, even with closed eyes. Bowing in this situation could create the impression that one is bowing to his own image. Likewise, it is proper to avoid facing any reflective glass. One should not face murals when davening because they are likely to detract from one's kavanah. As such, it is not proper to have paintings one the front wall of a shul. If a person finds himself facing a painting when davening, he should close his eyes. S iddurim, too, should not have pictures that could distract people who are using them. There is an opinion that people should not face pictures, etc., even when reciting parts of davening other than Shemoneh Esrei.
( סעיף כג וס"ק ע-עא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 77, 81 ו־82)
Davening near one's father or rebbe
A person should not recite Shemoneh Esrei within four amos of the gadol hador, of his rebbe, or of his father. It is considered a disgrace to them if their junior stands with his back to them, and it is arrogant on the part of a junior to stand next to them. Davening behind them is forbidden for one of three reasons:  1) It is arrogant for a person to present himself as second to his rebbe, father, etc.  2) It might seem like he is bowing to them during davening if he bows behind them.  3) If the rebbe/father finishes first, he will be prevented from taking three steps back, since this would cause him to enter into the space of the student/child. (The student/child should stand more than four amos behind him in order to allow him to take his three steps after completing Shemoneh Esrei.) Primarily, this rule applies when davening away from shul; in shul, the custom is to be lenient and daven near the rebbe/parent. Nevertheless, it is proper not to choose a seat less than four amos behind (and according to some, in front) of one's rebbe/parent, etc.
( סעיף כד, ס"ק עג-פ, וביה"ל ד"ה ואף; (וראה פסקי הרי"ד ברכות כז, ב))
If tzoah appeared during davening
It is forbidden to recite kriyas Shema or divrei kedusha in the presence of waste matter. (Depending on the case, this issur can be mid'oraisa or mid'rabonon.)  If waste was discovered while davening Shemoneh Esrei, it should be removed or covered in a manner which permits continued tefilla. If that is not possible, a person should move to a place where it is permissible for him to continue davening. If the waste is forbidden mid'oraisa and affects other people as well, they should be notified. If no other option is available, it is permissible to talk in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei to alert them to the problem. If the waste is forbidden mid'rabonon, it is not permissible to speak in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei to let them know.
( סעיף כו-כז וס"ק פד; וראה ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 90)

  • One should have a set place -- a makom kavua -- for davening. One reason for this is that tefilla is like a korban and every korban had a set place where it was offered.
  • One should not daven within four tefachim of the shul doorway.  Someone whose official seat is near the doorway is permitted to daven there if the door is closed.
  • Ideally, there should not be anything blocking a person from the wall in front of him when he davens. Fixed items of furniture (e.g. bookcase, table, stand) are not considered problematic separations between a person and the wall.

  • Wearing a belt for davening

  • Proper attire for davening

  • Bareheadedness



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.