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Thought for the Day: Preparing For Davening

As I am sure you remember, there is a particular isha chashuva who occasionally asks me questions that give one (ie, this one, ie, me) pause.  She has been less actively asking questions (to me, anyway) as she more actively directs her energies to other areas of avodas HaShem, but I am still zoche to field her questions from time to time.  Recently (she may think it's not so recent... but, I needed time..), she asked:
In terms of getting ready in the morning- showering, brushing teeth, doing hair (if a girl), etc... Is there a preference to do them before or after davening? Is it preferable to get yourself physically ready first, so as to be properly presentable before our Creator, or is it more important to address HaKadosh Baruch Hu ASAP in the morning?
The crux of the answer lies in the beautiful phrasing of the question.  We want to address the Creator of the world.  On the one hand, making Him wait (so to speak) seems at least rude and at worst reckless.  On the other hand, so does presenting ourselves to Him as in a way we wouldn't be caught dead doing with another human being.  The approach we take must be balanced and it depends on which interaction we discussing.

On first waking we address HaShem with "modeh ani...".  Obviously we are not looking our best (which is why that statement does not include the sheim HaShem), but we don't want to let a moment go by without at least acknowledging our Creator.  As far as morning brachos, the Shulchan Aruch actually recommends saying them as events unfold; "pokei'ach ivrim" as we open our eyes, "matir asurim" as we stretch our legs and arms, "roka ha'aratz al ha'mayim" as we step on the (solid) floor, etc.  The minhag is to say them all at shul, but our mode of dress seems to be a non-issue.

There there is t'fila, aka shmone esrei.  Davening in general, but shmone esrei in particular, is addressing our Creator.  One on one, no intermediary, straight communication with the Creator.  I think this was best expressed by Tuki (of Country Yossi fame):
When you're davening, you're talking to HaShem.  It's a pretty scary thing when you're talking to a king.  When you're davening you're talking to the King.
So t'fila is just different.  One does not "chahp" (grab) a mincha any more than one would grab (even) the president of the United States.  T'fila should be said dressed appropriately for the occasion.  That is, the same way you be dressed for a formal appointment with an important official with whom you meet regularly. That is, someone you know and with whom you have many impromptu meetings.  But when it is time for a formal presentation and meeting, you dress appropriately.  If you would wear curlers and fuzzy slippers to the annual budget meeting with the CEO when you are reporting on last year's accomplishments and asking for next year's budget... then I suppose you can wear fuzzy slippers and curlers for davening.  Personally, though, I would wear a jacket and tie (I'd wear a hat, but my CEO is a goy and would find it odd).  I would not leave my jacket half off and have my sleeves rolled up.

I hope that helps.  Thank you for the reminder.


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