04. Attire Fit for Prayer

Although le-khatĥila one must wear respectable clothing for prayer, when it is difficult to change one’s clothes, it is permissible to pray in everyday clothing, as long as they are not undignified. Therefore, a woman who is engaged in household chores and is caring for her children, and does not have time to dress for prayer, may pray in her regular clothes or a nice robe that she wears around the house. As long as she is not embarrassed to open the door to her house in these clothes, they are not considered disgraceful.

One should not pray in pajamas (MB 91:11). However, one who is ill may pray in pajamas, because it is accepted that one who is not feeling well wears pajamas, even when important people come to visit her.

One should not stand in prayer wearing a raincoat, boots, and gloves, because that is not the way to stand before important people (MB 91:12). Yet, when it is very cold, it is permissible to pray in a raincoat and gloves, because this is not an affront to the honor of prayer. Moreover, in a place where everyone regularly wears boots, one may wear them while praying.

Similarly, girls who are on a field trip are permitted to pray as they are, as long as the clothes conform to the laws of tzni’ut. Although these clothes would not be considered respectable attire at home, and perhaps may even be considered slightly disgraceful, on a trip they are acceptable, and even if an important person would appear before them they would not feel a need to change their clothes. Therefore, as long as the clothes are modest, they may be worn for prayer for the duration of the field trip. 1

  1.   Regarding men, a question sometimes arises: Which is preferable, respectable clothing or praying in a minyan? See Peninei Halakha: Prayer 5:4-5, which states that if the clothing is merely “not respectable” it is preferable to pray in them with a minyan; however, if they are truly disgraceful, it is best to change them and pray individually. Additionally, see earlier in this chapter, n. 3, which mentions that since for men the limitations of modesty are less strict, there are gray areas. For example, a man who is going on a hike may wear shorts. However, if it is not accepted for him to wear shorts before and after the hike, he must wear long pants for prayer. Concerning women, who are bound by rules of tzni’ut, these laws are not applicable, because the modest clothing that they wear all day is valid for prayer. 

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman