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Hilchos Tefila 89 (page 239)
מסעיף ג עד סעיף ה

Eating before Davening
Drinking before Davening
Traveling before Davening

Eating before davening
It is generally forbidden to eat before davening. It is degrading to Heaven to attend to one's own needs before addressing Hashem. It is also inappropriate for a person to involve himself in his bodily needs before davening to Hashem about them. The famished and infirm may eat before davening, as can those who are eating for health or taking medications (including vitamins).  One who eats before davening should recite the first paragraph of Shema beforehand. The contemporary poskim discuss whether or not he should intend to fulfill his obligation with this recitation. If he must eat a complete meal, he should don his tefillin and recite the entire Shema first, because it is forbidden to eat before performing those mitzvos.
( סעיף ג-ד, ס"ק כא, כב, כד ו־כה, וביה"ל ד"ה ולא וד"ה וכן; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 30, 32 ו־33)
Drinking before davening
Technically it is forbidden to drink before davening, but there are many exceptions. It is permissible to drink water or coffee/tea, but according to the early poskim, only without milk or sugar. Later poskim permitted using milk and sugar, since it is difficult for us to tolerate these drinks without them. Some permit light drinks, but strong drinks like wine or beer are forbidden. Drinking, even when permitted, should not be done socially, since -- among other reasons -- it is easy to get distracted and miss the time for davening.  It is permissible to drink on Shabbos and Yom Tov, since the obligation to recite kiddush doesn't begin until after Shacharis.
( סעיף ג וס"ק כב-כג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 29 ו־31; וראה שם רפט, 8, לענין אשה בשבת וביו"ט)
Traveling before davening
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. According to some poskim, the first reason (tending to one's own needs before Hashem) only applies to Shacharis, but not Mincha or Ma'ariv. Therefore, this opinion holds that it is permissible to take a short trip or travel before Mincha or Ma'ariv if he knows he will be able to daven with a clear head later. Likewise, if he is not ready to daven at the time he sets out (i.e. if it is early afternoon and he plans to daven Mincha close to sunset), he may travel without davening. In a time of need (e.g. a long wait until the next bus, the ability to avoid heavy traffic if one leaves right away, etc.), it is permissible to set out before davening Shacharis.
( סעיף ג וס"ק יט-כ; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 25-27)

  • Once the time for Shacharis has arrived, it is forbidden to go out of one's way to greet people, even parents or teachers. It is forbidden to go to a person's house or place in shul and greet him with shalom or 'good morning.'
  • Basic halacha permits greeting people that one meets in passing with the word Shalom. It is customary, however, to alter common greetings to less common ones as a reminder that one has not davened yet and should not get involved with other matters.
  • Shacharis may be recited until a third of the day has passed. According to most poskim, someone who has not davened before that time -- whether by choice, mistake or ones - has until noon to daven.  There are poskim who do not permit davening this late, however.

  • Studying Torah before davening

  • The opinion of the Zohar about eating in the middle of the night

  • Showering before davening


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.