SECTION 101 The Requirement to Concentrate during All the Blessings; the License to Pray in Any Language. (1-5)

סימן קא שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְכַוֵּן בְּכָל הַבְּרָכוֹת וְשֶׁיָכוֹל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן וּבוֹ ה' סְעִיפִים:

1 When reciting Shemoneh Esreh must concentrate during all the blessings.1 If he cannot concentrate in all of them, he should concentrate at least throughout the first blessing.2 One should always appraise himself:3 If he will be able to concentrate during Avos, he should pray; if he cannot, he should not pray until his mind becomes settled and he will be able to concentrate at least during [that first blessing]. If one did not concentrate during that blessing, he must repeat [Shemoneh Esreh] even if he concentrated while reciting all the other blessings.

In the present age we do not repeat Shemoneh Esreh because concentration was lacking, since it is likely that one will again fail to concentrate when repeating it. If so, why should he repeat it? With regard to the recitation of the Shema, by contrast, since the fundamental mitzvah to concentrate applies only to the recitation of its first verse,4 one should repeat it [if one failed to concentrate], because it is easy to concentrate [for that short amount of time]. The same [ruling applies] with regard to the verse in Pesukei deZimrah5 that begins poseiach es yadecha,6 as stated in sec. 51[:8] and sec. 63[:5].

One should habituate himself to concentrate at least during the concluding phrase7 of each blessing.8 [These concluding phrases] comprise 113 words, as does the prayer of Chanah.9 And the word lev (“heart”) is mentioned 113 times in the five Chumashim, teaching that [during prayer] one’s heart should be devoutly focused.

א הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל צָרִיךְ שֶׁיְּכַוֵּן בְּכָל הַבְּרָכוֹת.א,1 וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן בְּכֻלָּן – לְפָחוֹת יְכַוֵּן בְּ"אָבוֹת".2 וּלְעוֹלָם יָמֹד אָדָם אֶת עַצְמוֹ,ב,3 אִם יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן לִבּוֹג בְּ"אָבוֹת"ד – יִתְפַּלֵּל, וְאִם לָאו – אַל יִתְפַּלֵּל עַד שֶׁתִּתְיַשֵּׁב דַּעְתּוֹה וְיוּכַל לְכַוֵּן בְּ"אָבוֹת" לְפָחוֹת. וְאִם לֹא כִּוֵּן בְּ"אָבוֹת" אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכִּיוֵן בְּכָל הַשְּׁאָרו – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְהִתְפַּלֵּל.ז

וְעַכְשָׁו אֵין חוֹזְרִין בִּשְׁבִיל חֶסְרוֹן כַּוָּנָה,ח שֶׁאַף בַּחֲזָרָה קָרוֹב הוּא שֶׁלֹּא יְכַוֵּן,ט אִם כֵּן לָמָּה יַחֲזֹר. אֲבָל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַעי שֶׁעִקַּר מִצְוַת כַּוָּנָתָהּ אֵינָהּ אֶלָּא פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹןיא,4 – חוֹזְרִין, שֶׁבְּקַל יוּכַל לְכַוֵּן. וְכֵן פָּסוּק6 "פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת יָדֶךָ" שֶׁבִּפְסוּקֵי דְּזִמְרָה,5 כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן נ"איב (וס"א) [וס"גיג].

וְיַרְגִּיל אָדָם אֶת עַצְמוֹ שֶׁיְּכַוֵּן לְפָחוֹת בַּחֲתִימַת7 כָּל בְּרָכָה,יד,8 שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן קי"ג תֵּבוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בִּתְפִלַּת חַנָּה,טו,9 וְקי"ג פְּעָמִים לֵב בְּה' חֻמְשֵׁי תּוֹרָה, לוֹמַר שֶׁצָּרִיךְ כַּוָּנַת הַלֵּב:

2 One should not pray in his heart alone. Rather, he should articulate the words with his lips10 and whisper them audibly.11 He should not, however, make his voice heard12 (by someone13 standing more than four cubits away), as it is written,14 “Only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard.” A person who projects his voice during She­moneh Esreh is one of those whose faith is meager15 — as if the Holy One, blessed be He, would not hear a whispered prayer. (The Sages ordained that Shemoneh Esreh should be uttered in an absolute whisper, i.e., it should be heard by one’s own ears alone, so as not to embarrass transgressors16 who confess their sins when praying.)

ב לֹא יִתְפַּלֵּל בְּלִבּוֹ לְבַד, אֶלָּא מְחַתֵּךְ הַדְּבָרִים בִּשְׂפָתָיוטז,10 וּמַשְׁמִיעַ לְאָזְנָיויז בְּלַחַשׁ.11 וְלֹא יַשְׁמִיעַ קוֹלוֹיח,12 (לְאַחֵריט,13 הָעוֹמֵד אֶצְלוֹ חוּץ לְד' אַמּוֹתָיו), שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:כ,14 "רַק שְׂפָתֶיהָ נָעוֹת וְקוֹלָהּ לֹא יִשָּׁמֵעַ". וְכָל הַמַּשְׁמִיעַ קוֹלוֹ בִּתְפִלָּתוֹ – הֲרֵי זֶה מִקְּטַנֵּי אֲמָנָה,כא,15 כְּאִלּוּ אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלַּת לַחַשׁ (וַחֲכָמִים תִּקְּנוּ תְּפִלָּה בְּלַחַשׁ לְגַמְרֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְׁמִיעַ אֶלָּא לְאָזְנָיו בִּלְבַד, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְבַיֵּשׁ עוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָהכב,16 שֶׁהֵם מִתְוַדִּים עַל עֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם בַּתְּפִלָּה):

3 If one cannot concentrate when praying in a whisper15 or he cannot concentrate as well as he can when he prays aloud, he is permitted to raise his voice so that he will concentrate effectively, provided he is praying alone. [When praying] with a congregation, by contrast, it is forbidden to raise one’s voice, because it disturbs them. Instead, if one cannot concentrate while praying in a whisper, he should go and pray aloud at home. Moreover, even when he can concentrate as effectively while praying in a whisper as while praying aloud, if he prays aloud when at home so that the members of his household will learn the customary order of prayer from him, this is permitted.

This is why people customarily pray aloud on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, so that they will teach each other [the text of the prayers], because people are not familiar with them. Also, [praying aloud] heightens one’s devout concentration, and [that is appropriate because] these are days of teshuvah. We are not concerned that people will disturb and confuse each other, because they have Siddurim and Machzorim. Nevertheless, it is preferable to pray in a whisper if one can concentrate [while praying in that manner]. One should at least be careful not to raise his voice unduly, for whoever [does so in prayer] is [likened to] the false prophets,15 of whom it is written,17 “And they called out loudly.”

Nevertheless, a sheliach tzibbur who raises his voice to arouse concentration and to make himself heard well by the congregation is acting desirably, for the function of a sheliach tzibbur was basically instituted so that his prayers be voiced aloud. By contrast, those who raise their voices [in prayer] in order to demonstrate their vocal ability are not acting appropriately.18

ג וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן בְּלַחַשׁ,כג,15 אוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן כָּל כָּךְ ֹכְּמוֹ בְּקוֹל רָםכד – מֻתָּר לְהַגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלוֹ כְּדֵי לְכַוֵּן יָפֶה. וְהוּא שֶׁמִּתְפַּלֵּל בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ,כה אֲבָל בְּצִבּוּר אָסוּר לְהַגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמַּטְרִיד הַצִּבּוּר. אֶלָּא אִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן בְּלַחַשׁ – יֵלֵךְ וְיִתְפַּלֵּל בְּבֵיתוֹ בְּקוֹל.כו וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן בְּלַחַשׁ כְּמוֹ בְּקוֹל, אִם מַשְׁמִיעַ קוֹלוֹ כְּשֶׁמִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּבֵיתוֹכז כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּלְמְדוּ מִמֶּנּוּ בְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ נֻסַּח הַתְּפִלָּה – מֻתָּר.

וְלָכֵן נוֹהֲגִין שֶׁבְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם כִּפּוּר מַגְבִּיהִין קוֹלָם, כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּלַמְּדוּ זֶה אֶת זֶה,כח מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין רְגִילִין בִּתְפִלּוֹת אֵלּוּ. וְעוֹד כְּדֵי לְעוֹרֵר הַכַּוָּנָה בְּיוֹתֵר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵם יְמֵי תְּשׁוּבָה,כט וְאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁים שֶׁיַּטְרִידוּ וְיַטְעוּ זֶה אֶת זֶה כֵּיוָן שֶׁסִּדּוּרִים וּמַחֲזוֹרִים בְּיָדָם.ל וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵּן יוֹתֵר טוֹב לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּלַחַשׁ אִם יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן.לא וְעַל כָּל פָּנִים יִזָּהֲרוּ שֶׁלֹּא לְהַגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלָם יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי,לב שֶׁכָּל הַמַּגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלוֹ הַרְבֵּהלג – הֲרֵי זֶה מִנְּבִיאֵי הַשֶּׁקֶר,15 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בָּהֶם:לד,17 "וַיִּקְרְאוּ בְּקוֹל גָּדוֹל".

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר הַמַּגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלוֹ כְּדֵי לְעוֹרֵר הַכַּוָּנָה וּלְהַשְׁמִיעַ יָפֶה לַבְּרִיּוֹת – יָפֶה הוּא עוֹשֶׂה,לה שֶׁעִקַּר תְּפִלַּת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר נִתַּקְּנָה בְּקוֹל רָם, אֲבָל אוֹתָם שֶׁעוֹשִׂים כֵּן לְהַרְאוֹת קוֹלָם – עוֹשִׂים שֶׁלֹּא כַּהֹגֶן:18

4 If one recited Shemoneh Esreh in a whisper that is inaudible even to himself, he has fulfilled his obligation.11 If, however, he recited that prayer in his heart alone without articulating the words, he has not fulfilled his obligation, for “thought is not equivalent to speech.”19

ד הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּלַחַשׁ וְלֹא הִשְׁמִיעַ לְאָזְנָיו – יָצָא.לו,11 אֲבָל אִם הִתְפַּלֵּל בְּלִבּוֹ וְלֹא הוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיו – לֹא יָצָא,לז שֶׁהִרְהוּר אֵינוֹ כְּדִבּוּר:לח,19

5 One may pray in any language he desires20 when he prays as part of a congregation. When, however, one prays individually, he should pray only in the Holy Tongue,21 for the ministering angels do not comprehend the other languages and a person praying individually needs an angel as an intercessor for his prayer to be accepted. By contrast, congregational prayer needs no intercessor, as it is written,22 “The mighty, [G‑d] will not spurn.”

Some authorities have justified the practice of women who are accustomed to reciting Shemoneh Esreh in the vernacular [even though] they, like men, are obligated to recite it, as stated in sec 106[:2]. [They argue that] an individual was restricted [by the Sages] from praying in languages other [than the Holy Tongue] only when he petitions [G‑d] for his needs, e.g., he [recites a special] prayer for a sick person or [to remedy] another [source of] anguish he has at home. By contrast, [they argue,] prayers that were instituted for congregational worship may be recited in any language even by a person praying individually. Others have pointed out a different redeeming factor. They argue that a person praying individually was not restricted [by the Sages] from praying in other languages, apart from Aramaic, for [that language] is despised by the ministering angels,23 and they ignore him.24 They do, however, recognize and comprehend other languages and even the thoughts in a person’s heart.25

The above arguments sought to present redeeming factors in the conduct of women who, though obligated to pray, say their prayers in the vernacular and do not learn [to] pray in the Holy Tongue with [an understanding of] what the words mean. Nevertheless, [what of] an unlettered person26 who can recite the prayers in the Holy Tongue but does not understand it? Rather than praying in the Holy Tongue without mental focus, it is preferable that he pray in a language that he understands, even when praying individually, so that he can concentrate on what he is saying — for prayer without devout intent is of no value.27

ה יָכוֹל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן שֶׁיִּרְצֶהלט,20 כְּשֶׁמִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּצִבּוּר. אֲבָל בְּיָחִיד לֹא יִתְפַּלֵּל אֶלָּא בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ,מ,21 לְפִי שֶׁאֵין מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מַכִּירִין בִּשְׁאָר לְשׁוֹנוֹת, וְהַיָּחִיד צָרִיךְ לְמַלְאָךְ מֵלִיץ לְקַבֵּל תְּפִלָּתוֹ. אֲבָל צִבּוּר אֵין צָרִיךְ לְמֵלִיץ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:מא,22 "הֵן אֵל כַּבִּיר לֹא יִמְאָס".מב

וְהַנָּשִׁים שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּלַעַ"ז תְּפִלַּת י"ח שֶׁהֵן חַיָּבוֹת בָּהֶן כָּאֲנָשִׁיםמג כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן (ק"י) [ק"ומד] – יֵשׁ שֶׁלִּמְּדוּ עֲלֵיהֶן זְכוּת לוֹמַר, שֶׁלֹּא מָנְעוּ לַיָּחִיד לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בִּשְׁאָר לְשׁוֹנוֹת אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁשּׁוֹאֵל צְרָכָיו, כְּגוֹן שֶׁמִּתְפַּלֵּל עַל הַחוֹלֶה אוֹ עַל שׁוּם צַעַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּבֵיתוֹ, אֲבָל תְּפִלָּה הַקָּבוּעַ לְצִבּוּר – אֲפִלּוּ יָחִיד יָכוֹל לְאָמְרָהּ בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן. וְיֵשׁ שֶׁלִּמְּדוּ עֲלֵיהֶן זְכוּת אַחֵרמה לוֹמַר, שֶׁלֹּא מָנְעוּ לְהַיָּחִיד מִלְּהִתְפַּלֵּל בִּשְׁאָר לְשׁוֹנוֹת אֶלָּא מִלָּשׁוֹן אֲרַמִּי בִּלְבַד, שֶׁהוּא מְגֻנֶּה בְּעֵינֵי מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת23 וְאֵינָם נִזְקָקִין לוֹ,24 אֲבָל מַכִּירִין וְיוֹדְעִים בְּכָל הַלְּשׁוֹנוֹת, אֲפִלּוּ מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם.מו,25

וְכָל זֶה לְלַמֵּד זְכוּת עַל הַנָּשִׁים שֶׁחַיָּבוֹת בִּתְפִלָּה, לָמָּה מִתְפַּלְלוֹת בְּלַעַ"ז וְאֵינָן לוֹמְדוֹת אֶת הַתְּפִלָּה בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ עִם פֵּרוּשׁ הַמִּלּוֹת, אֲבָל עַם הָאָרֶץ26 שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵבִין בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוּכַל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ – מוּטָב שֶׁיִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּלָשׁוֹן שֶׁמֵּבִיןמז אֲפִלּוּ בְּיָחִיד כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּכַוֵּן לִבּוֹ מִמַּה שֶּׁיִּתְפַּלֵּל בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ בְּלֹא כַּוָּנַת הַלֵּב, שֶׁתְּפִלָּה בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָה – אֵינָהּ כְּלוּם:מח,27