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 Hilchos Tefilla 101 (page 261)
 מסעיף ג עד תחילת סימן קב

Davening in a Language Other Than Lashon Hakodesh
Benefits of Reciting the Tefillos in the Original Language
Why An Individual Should Avoid Davening in Other Languages

Davening in a language other than Lashon Hakodesh
Ideally, everyone should daven and recite berachos in Lashon Hakodesh. In doing so, a person can fulfill his obligation even if he does not understand the words (with the exception of the first beracha of Shemoneh Esrei and possibly the beracha of Modim, which must be understood).  Davening is permitted in other languages that are commonly spoken where a person is located (as long as the speaker understands what he is saying), but this should not be done on a regular basis. Someone who is incapable of davening in Lashon Hakodesh (e.g. someone newly observant) is permitted to daven in any language he knows until he learns to read Lashon Hakodesh. His tefillos in other languages can be considered tefilla b'tzibur.
( סעיף ד וס"ק יג-יד; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 24, 25, 29, 30 ו־32)
The benefits of reciting tefillos in the original language
Someone who feels he can daven with greater intensity in a language other than Lashon Hakodesh is permitted to so on an occasional basis. However, if that degree of intensity is not his objective, he should stick with Lashon Hakodesh because it offers many benefits.  It is the language in which Hashem created the world and spoke to the prophets. Additionally, the traditional tefillos were composed by the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah, a group of 120 sages which included many prophets. They paid careful attention to their choice of words and embedded many lofty concepts into the prayers. These prayers are powerful and effective, even when the supplicant does not comprehend the words.
( ס"ק יג וביה"ל ד"ה יכול)
Why an individual should avoid davening in other languages
According to some poskim, praying in other languages is permissible only when davening with a tzibur. An individual should not pray in other languages because the angels who present the tefillos to Hashem only understand Lashon Hakodesh (whereas the tefilla of a tzibur is received directly by Hashem without the involvement of angels). Other poskim allow individuals to recite the standard prayers in other languages. A third opinion permits any language except Aramaic, which is despised by the angels. Tefillos written in Aramaic (e.g. Yikum Purkon) should not be recited without a minyan, but may be recited by an individual when the tzibur is reciting a different section of the prayers.
( סעיף ד וס"ק טו, יח ו־יט; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 36-37)

  • Berachos or tefillos that are only said occasionally should be recited from a siddur unless one reviews them first. It is adequate to review them in one's mind before reciting them by heart. 
  • When reciting the first beracha of Shemoneh Esrei, one is required to understand the meaning of the words. Someone who davened without proper intent should not repeat Shemoneh Esrei.
  • The words of Shemoneh Esrei must be pronounced audibly, but not loud enough for someone nearby to hear. Someone who davens out loud demonstrates that he believes Hashem is incapable of listening to silent prayers.

  • Sitting in front of people davening

  • Standing in front of people davening

  • May a person remain seated if someone starts Shemoneh Esrei behind him?



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.