a discussion came up regarding prostration during prayer, it was explained to me that although prostration is not always forbidden, that the use of 'prayer mats or rugs' is assur. It was also mentioned the the use of 'prayer rugs or mats' had a pagan origin associated "magical carpet" myths. Additionally, it was added that if the floor is stone material it should be covered to create a separation, but that specific 'prayer mats or rugs' of personal size and shape that resemble those of Christian and Muslim prayer mats were not.

I found this interesting but could not find any sources for this issue. Is there any sources that prohibit a particular type of mat or rug?

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    You were lied to. The Rambam specifically allows using a rug. chayas.com/qidah.htm
    – Aaron
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 20:41
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    @Aaron A link to a particular chapter in Rambam would be more convincing...
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 21:48
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    ה בתי כנסייות ובתי מדרשות--נוהגין בהן כבוד, מכבדין אותן, ומרבצין אותן. ונהגו כל ישראל בספרד ובמערב בשנער וארץ הצבי, להדליק עששייות בבתי כנסייות, ולהציע בקרקען מחצלות כדי לישב עליהן. ובערי אדום, יושבין שם על הכיסאות. hilkoth birkath kohanim 11 5 i use a rug for daily prayer Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 23:02
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    @Aryah jews muslims christians from the middle east all used the same middle eastern type rugs. only recently have muslims been using prayer rugs with designs of the kaaba on it and other things. i have never seen christian rugs. as can been seen by the sothebys websites, there are many personal jewish prayer rugs with many designs on them rugrag.com/post/… rugrag.com/post/… Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 0:26
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    @Aryah why would you think there should be a specific size and shape that needs to be defined. there is no reason to define the size and shape of chairs and tables people use in the synagogue nor is there a reason to define it for a prayer rug. in regards to the material, as long as it is not stone (rug made out of stone?) it is fine. why would you think otherwise? what is the purpose of a rug? to sit on it. the minhagh is already stated in the source i gave you. in middle eastern countries people sat on rugs and in europe they sat on chairs. theres nothing more to this Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 5:46

1 Answer 1


As explained in Do Jews Kneel in Prayer? One is allowed to kneel as long as one puts an interruption such as a towel or a rug on the floor. Please note that we normally do not prostrate ourselves except on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.

Shulchan Aruch Harav says that the basic halacha is for nefilas apaim (tachanun) after shmoneh esrai, but that we just put our heads on our hands instead of a full prostration.

However, the Code of Jewish Law states that if you put an intervening substance between your knees and the stone floor, then it is permitted to kneel.2 Therefore, on Yom Kippur, when we do kneel and bow down with our faces to the floor, people bring towels to kneel on, since many synagogues (especially in Israel) have stone or tile floors.

When it comes to daily prayers, however, we are concerned about transgressing this prohibition and therefore do not kneel in prayer.

Shulchan Aruch Harav 131:1

In addition, any person is forbidden to prostrate himself on a stone11 floor,4 even when he does not spread out his hands and feet entirely. This was ordained [as a safeguard] lest one prostrate oneself with his hands and feet spread out, which contravenes a Scriptural prohibition12 for which one is liable for lashes, as it is written,13 “Do not place a stone floor14 in your land to prostrate yourself upon it.” [Prostrating oneself on a stone floor] is permitted only in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash.

11. The Scriptural prohibition applies only to a stone floor. It does not apply to a wooden floor, nor to a floor (even of stone) that is covered with an intervening substance such as linoleum. (See Rambam, Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 6:7; Rama, Yoreh Deah 131:8.) Therefore, while saying Aleinu in the course of the Mussaf services of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, when it is customary to kneel and to prostrate oneself until one’s forehead touches the floor, one should first spread a handkerchief or the like on the floor if it is made of stone. (See sec. 621:12 in the volume on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur in the present Bilingual Edition; Sefer HaMinhagim: The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs, p. 120.)

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    is [sic] there any sources prohibiting the use of prayer mats or rugs? This seems to be the primary question, and it does not appear to be addressed.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 22:12
  • @mevaqesh The question seems to be answered as the sources I point to say that we do spread a towel or a rug for those times that we actually kneel (on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur) Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 22:20
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    @LN6595 The question was is a "prayer rug" forbidden or are there any sources that it is forbidden. My answer is that it does not appear to be forbidden and the sources say that it is required under circumstances that require prostration and not otherwise. As a result, it is an answer to the question. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 17:31
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    @Aryah It appears from the sources that it is not forbidden. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 17:32
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    @sabbahillel thank you for the info, since this is all there appears to be on the subject, Ill accept that as the answer, if I find anything else I'll let you know. I appreciate you. Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 5:50

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