Avoiding Davening After Drinking Intoxicating Beverages

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  1. When one is not in a state in which one is able to befittingly speak before a king one is forbidden to daven Shmoneh Esrei,[1] recite Birkat Kohanim,[2] or recite the Shema and its accompanying blessings.[3] If one prays in such a condition one's prayer is considered an abomination and one must repeat Shmoneh Esrei and Shema[4] (all 3 paragraphs) when one is again sober.[5]
  2. One who is truly unfit to speak before a king must delay davening even if this means that they will miss the time to daven altogether. In such a scenario, one may pray a make up tefilla (tashlumin).[6] Nonetheless, one must not be overly stringent about this considering the fact that, today, our kavana during davening is not so great even when we are not drunk.[7]
  3. If one is concerned that the time for Shema will pass before one becomes sober one should recite the Shema (including all three paragraphs). Nonetheless, if one becomes sober before the time for Shema ends, one should repeat Shema (all three paragraphs).[8]
  4. Even if one is accustomed to drinking and is therefore not affected by drinking, nonetheless, if one drinks a reviit of wine, or the intoxicating equivalent of another beverage, ideally one should not daven then. When one drinks this minimal amount of wine or its intoxicating equivalent from another beverage, a walk of 1 mil and a tiny bit of sleep will suffice to wear off the alcohol's effect.[9]
  5. Ideally, one should avoid reciting any brachot when one is drunk to the extent that one would be incapable of speaking in front of a king.[10] Strictly speaking however, one may recite all brachot[11] (including Birkat Hamazon)[12] as long as one is not drunk to the level of Lot's drunkeness.[13]
  6. Once one is drunk to the extent that one can no longer speak in front of a king he also cannot be counted for a minyan (although for a zimmun it is possible that this is permitted).[14]
  7. One need not perfrom any test in order to determine if one is sober enough to daven; rather, each individual is trusted to make this determination independently.[15]


  1. Shulchan Aruch 99:1
  2. Shulchan Aruch 38:128. Mishna Brurah 38:137 explains that Birkat Kohanim is comparable to the service performed in the Mikdash. One who would perform the service in the Mikdash in such a state would be chayav. Mishna Brurah 128:141 writes that all the rules that apply to davening Shmoneh Esrei when intoxicated apply to Birkat Kohanim as well. There he also cites the Magen Avraham who argues that when intoxicated by intoxicating beverages other than wine one may be lenient and recite Birkat Kohanim (unlike by Shmoneh Esrei where this would be forbidden). Nonetheless, the Mishna Brurah there cites achronim who argue on the Magen Avraham who hold that even regarding other intoxicating beverages the same rules for Shmoneh Esrei also apply to Birkat Kohanim.
  3. Rama 99:1 and Mishna Brurah 99:7
  4. Mishna Brurah 99:8
  5. Shulchan Aruch 99:1 Mishna Brurah 99:5 writes that if one davens Shmoneh Esrei when drunk, then it is as if one has worshiped idols. Contrastingly, if one avoids davening then one will be saved from all distress.
  6. Sulchan Aruch 99:1
  7. Mishna Brurah 99:3 quoting the Yam Shel Shlomo
  8. Mishna Brurah 99:8 quotes the Levush and Likutei Ha'Ramban who are lenient regarding reciting Shema when drunk. Nonetheless, the Gra explains the Yerushalmi as forbidding one from reciting Shema in such a scenario. The Mishna Brurah therefore concludes in accordance with what the Magen Avraham states regarding Birkat Hamazon (quoted in Mishna Brurah 185:6 as "Achronim") that one must still recite Shema or Birkat Hamazon if one finds himself already drunk, but ideally, one should avoid this situation.
  9. Shulchan Aruch 99:2 Mishna Brurah 99:17 quotes the Yam Shel Shlomo that on Yom Tov it is permitted to daven even if one drank a little because it is impossible to wait. The Mishna Brurah writes that this applies all the more so today when even when we are not drinking our kavana is not so great.
  10. Mishna Brurah 99:11 quoting the Gra
  11. Rama 99:1
  12. Misna Brurah 99:9
  13. M.B. 99:11 quoting the Mishbitzot Zahav
  14. Mishna Brurah 99:10
  15. Shulchan Aruch 99:3