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What should one do if he notices that his kippah fell off during the Amidah?

How does this depend on whether he is between brachot, in the middle of the body of a bracha, or saying the bracha itself?

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The classical case cited in halachic sources is a siddur falling (see e.g., Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 18:9)

R Eliezer Melamed writes (Peninei Halacha Hilchot Tefila 17:15) that one is permitted to interrupt his Amidah to fix a problem only if it will bother him so much that he cannot concentrate, and it should be done between the brachot.

If during the Amidah, a problem occurs that if not fixed immediately will cause him damage, he is not permitted to interrupt his prayer (Mishnah Berurah 104:2; Kaf HaChaim 6). However, if the matter bothers him so much that he cannot concentrate, he is permitted to attend to the problem.

If a siddur falls to the floor and the person reciting the Amidah cannot concentrate until it is picked up, he must first finish the berachah that he is saying, and then he may go pick it up.

However, unlike with a siddur, there is an obligation to cover once head when praying (SA OC 91:3, MT Tefila 5:5). Regarding someone who prays without a kippa by mistake and notices afterward, many halachic decisors rule he doesn't have to repeat his prayer (although some rule strictly, see here).

Based on the above, I discussed various scenarios with R Binyamin Tabady and he ruled that

  • if someone's kippa falls during prayer and it disturbs his concentration, he is allowed to move to pick it up
  • if he is not disturbed ad wears a talit or long-sleeved shirt, and he can use those to cover himself without being disturbed, he is allowed to do so
  • if he cannot cover his head, he is obliged to move to pick up his kippa and cover his head.

Of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

And if you want more on the topic, see R Ari Wasserman's ultimate encyclopedia of all kippa-related questions: Otzar Ha-Kipah: Kipos, Kovim Ve-Atifas Ha-Rosh as well as his shiur on the topic at YUTorah (also mentioned by ezra in his answer on this page).

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    The Rambam says that when praying one must cover his head. וְלֹא יַעֲמֹד בִּתְפִלָּה בַּאֲפוּנְדָתוֹ, וְלֹא בְּרֹאשׁ מְגֻלֶּה, So if the Kippa falls off and there is no other covering, how can he continue even if it does not bpther his concentration?
    – Chatzkel
    Dec 27 '21 at 17:51
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    I agree this is an issue but R Wasserman quotes R S Z Auerbach as saying you can pick up your kippa - not that you have to. I didn't want to write more than what is explicitly allowed - although again someone who is disturbed has a heter to go pick up his kippa
    – mbloch
    Dec 27 '21 at 18:44
  • Maybe R S Z was talking about when one is wearing a tallis?
    – Chatzkel
    Dec 27 '21 at 18:46
  • Thank you for your answer. I had the same question as Chatzkel, as I'm not sure that praying without a kippah would be enough of a disturbance for me to interrupt. Kitzur S"A Yalkut Yosef, siman 2, seif 21: "אסור להתפלל תפלת שמונה עשרה בגילוי הראש. ומכל מקום אם נפלה הכיפה שעל ראשו באמצע התפלה ולא הרגיש בדבר עד לאחר שסיים תפלתו, בדיעבד תפלתו תפלה, ואינו צריך לחזור ולהתפלל שנית" The fact that this paragraph is talking about the asur to pray without a head covering and mentions that you are yotze b'diavad if you don't notice it fall off seems to imply that you should go pick it up.
    – treenuts15
    Dec 28 '21 at 20:45
  • @Chatzkel your comments stayed with me and I improved my answer accordingly. Thanks for the push. I waited to publish until I was able to discuss it with a posek
    – mbloch
    Dec 29 '21 at 18:41
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If one's yarmulke fell off during the amidah it is muttar for him to pick it up and even to walk a few steps to do so. If someone is mapkid to wear two coverings if his hat blew off he is allowed to pick it up again between brachos if it causes him to lose kavanah. This is similar to the case of a siddur dropped during the amidah as brought forth in the other answer here. I learned all this from Rabbi Ari Wasserman in his 5 min shiur here

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