Dear Rabbi Simon,
I have a question that is quite pertinent these days. I understand that the Talmud and codes say we should not start praying if we’re feeling lightheaded etc. What is the situation when you’re not well? I know while I was sick with COVID-19, I would drag myself up and put tephilin on and did my davening. But without doubt my focus was not the same and I certainly was not doing all the prayers. It’s probably safe to say the first day or two I was just working my way through the important prayers so I could lie back down.
Is this the right thing to do or is it better to just stay in bed and miss the davening on those sorts of sick days?
Thank you for your question.
It is true that one should pray in a state of calmness, awareness and concentration, rather than distraction, discomfort, distress etc. (See Shulhan Arukh OH 93.) However, this does not necessarily mean that one should not (bother) to pray at all if the preferred and correct format of prayer is unavailable to him or her. Of course, if one cannot concentrate altogether, or if attempting to pray may exacerbate one’s illness, he may be absolved of the duty to pray or perhaps one should say the condensed form of tefillah reserved for emergency situations. So, it is a judgement call according to the circumstances.
I hope this is helpful.
Rabbi Rashi Simon