Proper Dress For Tefilla


לזכות נעמי שרה בת מרת הענא מרים וכל ב”ב 

The Rambam writes [Tefillah 5-5]:

תקון המלבושים כיצד מתקן מלבושיו תחלה ומציין עצמו ומהדר שנאמר השתחוו לה’ בהדרת קדש. ולא יעמוד בתפלה באפונדתו ולא בראש מגולה ולא ברגלים מגולות אם דרך אנשי המקום שלא יעמדו בפני הגדולים אלא בבתי הרגלים. ובכל מקום לא יאחוז תפילין בידו וספר תורה בזרועו ויתפלל מפני שלבו טרוד בהן. ולא יאחוז כלים ומעות בידו אבל מתפלל הוא ולולב בידו בימות החג מפני שהוא מצות היום. היה משוי על ראשו והגיע זמן תפלה אם היה פחות מארבעה קבין מפשילו לאחוריו ומתפלל בו היה ארבעה קבין מניחו על גבי קרקע ואחר כך יתפלל. דרך כל החכמים ותלמידיהם שלא יתפללו אלא כשהן עטופים:

Proper clothing: What is implied?

One should adjust his clothing and make himself neat and presentable before [praying], as [implied by Psalms 29:2]: “They bow to God in resplendent holiness.”

One should not pray wearing [only] his undershirt, bareheaded, or barefoot – if it is the custom of the people of that place to stand before their most respected people with shoes.

In all places, one should not hold tefillin in his hand or a Sefer Torah in his arms during the Amidah, since he will worry about them. [Similarly,] one should not hold utensils or money in his hand. However, he may pray while holding his lulav on Sukkot, since it is the commandment of the day.

If one is carrying a burden of less than four kabbim on his head when the time for the Amidah arrives, he should throw it over his shoulder and pray. If it is larger than four kabbim, he should place it on the ground and then pray.

It is customary for all Sages and their students to pray only when wrapped.



1] The Rambam is talking about proper clothing for davening. Why does he throw in the laws about what he is allowed to hold and not allowed to hold?

2] Why does he push off the law about the Sages and their students davening while “wrapped” [ostensibly in a tallis] until the end of the halacha. He should have written it earlier after talking about how one must make himself neat and presentable before davening and before talking about holding the various items during davening?

3] What is the Rambam’s source to distinguish between regular people and Torah scholars?

4] How does “מצות היום” explain that one may daven while holding the arba minim? If he will be worried about dropping them then it should be forbidden to daven with them in hand. If not – then what is the problem even if it weren’t מצות היום?

5] One Gadol is quoted as saying that the Rambam’s עיטוף today would be a hat and jacket. Where does he get that from?  [ועי’ רש”י שבת י. ד”ה ודיינין, ודוק] Why did עיטוף change?

6] In Hilchos Tzitzis [3-11] the Rambam says that it is a גנאי גדול – great disgrace, for scholars to daven without עיטוף. Where does he get THAT from? And why does he say here only that it is the “דרך” but not that it is a גנאי גדול not to do so?

I have seen various discussions but none have satisfied me…..