Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you don’t mind if I pose a question regarding davening apparel. I daven at home regularly and I was curious as to what the halakhic etiquette is in terms of attire and footwear. The way I approach this, which is not based on anything specific, is that when I pray I make sure I am wearing respectful clothes, and when downstairs wearing shoes (shoes are not allowed upstairs 😊). My guiding principle is that if I wouldn’t dress down to meet the King at Buckingham Palace, how could I possibly dress down when speaking with the King of Kings, albeit at home? So my question is can one pray at home whilst only wearing socks and what is the etiquette on wearing shorts and or a T-shirt? Would the latter be weather dependent? Is practicality a factor?
Thank you in advance.
All the best,
Thank you for your practical question.
You are certainly correct that when praying one is metaphorically having an audience with the King of Kings, and s/he should dress accordingly. Completely casual wear such as socks (no shoes), tee shirt and shorts does not show the respect which prayer deserves.
To clarify, while strictly speaking one who does not have access to shoes or suitable clothing other than shorts and tee shirt is allowed to pray as is, it is proper to wear long trousers, a conventional shirt and slippers (for upstairs!), sandals, or similar (even if not proper shoes). So yes, weather and practicality are legitimate considerations, but so are the accepted conventions of respectful attire.
I hope this is helpful.
Rabbi Rashi Simon