How should our hands be positioned in prayer? Is there a right or wrong way?

Various biblical passages seem to indicate that raising the handpalms is an appropriate gesture for prayer. Verses like kohelet 4:5 seem to state that the folding of the hands is for fools, yet in Shabbat 10a it says that Rava in his prayer would remove his cloak and clasp his hands and pray. He said that he would do so as a slave before his master, who appears before him with extreme submission.

Does the Tenach show us a way how to pray with our hands? (Although Rabbi Heschel seemed to have prayed with his feet at least once, I’m sticking to the hands and not the gesture of other body parts).

  • "Does the Tenach show us a way how to pray with our hands?" Are you asking for a Halachic source as your tags suggest, or some Biblical verses that describe or mention how someone held their hands while praying? Jul 9 '20 at 14:46
  • וַיְהִי כְּכַלּוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה, לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֶל-יְהוָה, אֵת כָּל-הַתְּפִלָּה וְהַתְּחִנָּה, הַזֹּאת; קָם מִלִּפְנֵי מִזְבַּח יְהוָה, מִכְּרֹעַ עַל-בִּרְכָּיו, וְכַפָּיו, פְּרֻשׂוֹת הַשָּׁמָיִם
    – Double AA
    Jul 9 '20 at 15:54
  • @Salmononius2 both actually, but it would be nice if there it’s supported by verses from the Tenach
    – Levi
    Jul 9 '20 at 18:36
  • Anyone know the gemara in Shabbos about (I think it was Rav Yosi) not lowering your arms below your waist? Jul 12 '20 at 5:33

See Shulchan Aruch 95:3 who writes that one places ones hands over ones heart with the right hand being over the left hand.

מניח ידיו על לבו כפותין (פירוש כקשורין) הימנית על השמאלית ועומד כעבד לפני רבו

  • 2
    Follow up question, why have I never seen anyone do this?
    – mroll
    Jul 9 '20 at 16:54
  • See Aruch Hashulchan
    – sam
    Jul 9 '20 at 17:33
  • That’s actually a beautiful way to express oneself during certain prayers.
    – Levi
    Jul 9 '20 at 18:38
  • @mroll Right that would interest me too. Instead, in Ashkenazic cycles, praying while 'shaukel' or swaying back and forth seems to be the modus operandi
    – Ilja
    Jul 9 '20 at 22:37

The Aruch Hashulchan 91:7 writes what is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch that one should have his hands clasped, right over left ... However, he ends off saying that not all people are the same, and it may be difficult for one to daven like that, so rather he should do what helps him pray better.

Text of Aruch Hashulchan:

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