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 Hilchos Tefilla 94-95 (page 255)
 מסעיף ט עד סימן צה סעיף ד

Keeping Legs Together for Davening
Davening With Eyes Open
How to Hold the Hands When Davening

Keeping legs together for davening
When standing before Hashem to daven, a person should emulate the angels, whose thoughts pertain only to the service of their Creator. Towards this end, the physical posture of angels is adopted for tefilla.  Since angels appear to have only one leg (regarding which the phrase "their leg is a straight leg" is written in the singular), a person should stand with both of his legs together as if they are one.  If a person did not close his legs, he is yotzei b'dieved. Someone who cannot pull his legs totally together should do the best he can. Someone who has to daven while sitting or lying should do so with his legs together as well.
( סימן צה, סעיף א וס"ק א-ב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 2 ו־5)
Davening with one's eyes open
To help with focus, a person should look towards the Heavens before beginning Shemoneh Esrei and this can be done at intervals during the prayer if necessary. But for the bulk of the tefilla a person should keep his eyes down, and according to the Zohar they must be kept closed. Someone who is not careful to keep his eyes closed when davening will not merit to see the Shechina upon his demise. There is an opinion that the Zohar permits a person to keep his eyes open if he looks down the whole time. The preferred method is to keep one's eyes closed, because that prevents people from looking around. Davening from a siddur with open eyes is permissible according to all opinions.
( סימן צה, סעיף ב, ס"ק ד-ה, וביה"ל ד"ה צריך; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 11)
How to hold one's hands when davening
A person must stand respectfully when davening as if he were standing before the rulers of his time. In some places it was customary for a person to stand before his superiors with his hands folded over his chest, and according to the Arizal this is the proper posture for davening. When standing in this position, the right hand should be placed over the left one to demonstrate that the midas harachamim symbolized by the right hand should be override the midas hadin symbolized by the left hand, and the thumb should be tucked into the palm. Some people do not stand this way, but put their hands on a shdenter when davening.
( סימן צה, סעיף ג וס"ק ו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 14-15)

  • A traveler may daven while sitting on an animal (despite the poor level of focus inherent in doing so) if the pressure from tarrying would disturb his kavanah for davening.
  • Someone who will be on a plane from before nightfall until after alos and won't be able to stand up forthe Shemnoeh Esrei of ma'ariv should preferably daven ma'ariv before shekia.
  • Shemoneh Esrei, chazaras hashatz, birkas kohanim, Hallel and kriyas haTorah should be recited while standing. Leaning so heavily on something that a person would fall if the item was moved is not equivalent to standing in these cases.


  • Holding things while davening

  • Changing locations while davening

  • Keeping one's feet together for Kedusha



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.