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Based on the verse “Lo tochlu al hadam,” in Vayikra, we learn that one should not eat before praying in the morning.

There is also the concept of Oneg Shabbat. Which basically means that you should be enjoying Shabbat and not be experiencing voluntary pain.

With that being the case, is there a difference between eating breakfast before a weekday Shachrit or a Shachrit of Shabbat? The Shabbat Schachrit in most places ends around 11 am and a person might get quite hungry by this time.

I am aware of custom to eat a snack followed by kiddush between Shachrit and Mussaf, but my question deals with specifically eating prior to Shachrit.

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    "in most placed ends around 11 am" This really depends when you start, no? If you start Shacharit after you would usually have breakfast during the week then of course you'll be hungry by the end of it. You'll be hungry by the beginning of it! – Double AA Feb 8 '15 at 15:41
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    @DoubleAA, exactly, that's why I am asking about eating prior to shacharit and not between shacharit and mussaf. – Ani Yodea Feb 8 '15 at 15:56
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    I guess all shuls in my neighborhood daven absurdly late... – Ani Yodea Feb 8 '15 at 16:09
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    I believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe has a heter for eating before davening on Shabbos – Daniel Feb 8 '15 at 17:16
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    Oneg shabbos doesn't mean you can't allow yourself to be a little hungery. Same with simchas yom tov. The point is to eat before chatzos. – user6591 Feb 8 '15 at 19:15
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It is permitted to eat a small snack before shacharit if one has difficulty concentrating; either on Shabbat or the weekdays(see Shulchan Aruch OC 89:3-4 and Magen Avraham ibid.). This is in accordance with the rulings of the Ben Ish Chai, R' Mordechai Eliyahu ztz"l, the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztz"l, and others.

A small snack includes a few cookies(less than a k'beitza), water/coffee/tea with milk &/or sugar(Yabia Omer 4:11), cigarettes(on weekdays only, if needed; Ben Ish Chai), dried fruits, or a small amount of meat(if needed). According to my understanding, a small amount of any food should be permitted if a person needs it.

The obligation of kiddush on shabbat only kicks in after one prays mussaf or wishes to eat bread(see Yabia Omer ibid.).

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    Would be helpful to provide sources, e.g., R Mordechai Eliyahu and "others". The Chabad custom is well known but might not apply to those who don't follow Chabad in other respects – mbloch Sep 5 '18 at 5:08
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    @mbloch I don't have the sefer with me, but R' Eliyahu ztz"l wrote it in a compilation of shu"ts during his time as Rishon L'tzion. He learned according to the Ben Ish Chai(his father, R' Salman ztz"l, was his student) and paskened like him(I vividly remember the conclusion). Since it is a clear psak in the Shulchan Aruch, you can rely on it. However, a full breakfast, no one permits; not even Chabad(except for the really sick). Remember, this heter is only if one cannot concentrate enough for tefila and allows a small amount of food. – chacham Nisan Sep 5 '18 at 18:05
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I researched that recently as I was getting really hungry (despite starting tfila at 8am) and didn't find a heter. The Shmirah Shabat Kehilchata doesn't allow it nor do the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch or R Zeev Greenwald in Shaarei Halachah

Chabad says "better eating to daven than davening to eat" (see here for background) but it doesn't seem to be normative halacha unless one cannot concentrate before eating.

Would love to hear of sources allowing it, in the spirit of kavana is really important to tfila, and food is really important to kavana!

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    Yes chabad has that kullah, but I don't think you can follow it if you're not chabad. I asked multiple rabbis this question and they were all strongly against eating before davening. One suggested I put a lot of sugar in my coffee. – Ani Yodea Dec 3 '15 at 3:03
  • Yes I arrived at the very same outcome on no way to eat before davening – mbloch Dec 3 '15 at 3:04
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    You could eat before dawn and then daven with the sunrise. :-) – Danny Schoemann Jan 3 '16 at 9:51

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