Is there any basis in Jewish law or practice for dressing nicer for Shabbat prayer/synagogue than one does for either Shabbat or for prayer/synagogue?

For example, I'm not generally particular about wearing a jacket when praying or when entering a synagogue, and when I'm at home on Shabbat, I tend to remove my jacket and tie. However, I am particular to wear my jacket and tie when attending synagogue on Shabbat, and when I have to pray at home on Shabbat, I also feel like I should wear my jacket and tie. Is there any basis for treating this confluence specially, or is this merely my fashion sense and habits at play?

  • your fashion sense ?? I am trying so hard to keep a straight face!
    – Jeremy
    Jul 26, 2010 at 19:18
  • As in, my general sense of what men tend to wear in the venue I attend. I'm talking more about the presence of jackets and ties than I am about what color or how many buttons are in style.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 26, 2010 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


The רמב"ם states in הלכות שבת פרק ל regarding dressing in clothing that are נקי and differentiated from your weekday clothes. He says:

ומכבוד השבת שילבש כסות נקיה, ולא יהיה מלבוש החול כמלבוש השבת, ואם אין לו להחליף ב משלשל טליתו כדי שלא יהא מלבושו כמלבוש החול, ועזרא תיקן שיהו העם מכבסים בחמישי מפני כבוד השבת.

The רמב"ם states in הלכות תפילה ונשיאת כפים פרק ה הלכה ה regarding dressing for Prayer. He says:

תקון המלבושים כיצד מתקן מלבושיו ח תחלה ומציין עצמו ומהדר שנאמר השתחוו לה' בהדרת קדש, ולא יעמוד בתפלה באפונדתו ולא בראש מגולה ולא ברגלים מגולות אם דרך אנשי המקום שלא יעמדו בפני הגדולים אלא ט בבתי הרגלים, ובכל מקום לא יאחוז תפילין בידו וספר תורה בזרועו ויתפלל מפני שלבו טרוד בהן, ולא יאחוז כלים ומעות בידו, אבל מתפלל הוא ולולב בידו בימות החג מפני שהוא מצות היום, היה משוי על ראשו והגיע זמן תפלה אם היה פחות מארבעה קבין מפשילו לאחוריו ומתפלל בו, היה ארבעה קבין מניחו על גבי קרקע ואחר כך יתפלל, דרך כל החכמים ותלמידיהם שלא יתפללו אלא כשהן עטופים.

Regarding שבת the essential criteria appears to be differentiating your clothes from the weekday. They shouldn't be your average clothes. It is one of the ways in which the identity of the day of שבת is reinforced. Perhaps it is a קיום in the קדושת היום of distinguishing the day and treating it as a special day. This probably could be taken further.

Regarding prayer the idea seems to be different. Perhaps the wearing of nicer clothes is in response to the fact that one is עומד לפני ה, standing before Hashem. What does it mean to stand before Hashem? Aren't we always standing before Hashem. Standing before Hashem I believe means to focus on the reality of the existence of Hashem. In prayer we are turning to God, we (hopefully) focus on the reality of God's existence. There are different laws that help us focus on this. One such law is to dress as if one is standing before a "King". We act as if we are actually in the presence of the King of all Kings, this means to dress appropriately.

So, given these two different ideas, perhaps the question is not necessarily if you need to wear a suit and tie, as much as, how will your prayer and Shabbat be enhanced by the clothes you wear?


Without touching the example, we do see an idea of double kavod by rosh chodesh/shabbos during sefirah where we don't haircut for each individually, but we do for both together.

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