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Shulchan Aruch, Orach HaChaim, Siman 90, Seif 5

לֹא יִתְפַּלֵּל בְּמָקוֹם פָּרוּץ כְּמוֹ בְּשָׂדֶה, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכְּשֶׁהוּא בִּמְקוֹם צְנִיעוּת חָלָה עָלָיו אֵימַת מֶלֶךְ, וְלִבּוֹ נִשְׁבָּר.

One should not pray in an open place, such as a field, for when someone is in an enclosed place, the fear of the King falls upon him and his heart breaks [in prayer].

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in many places talks of the immense value of "hisbodedus" (solitary personal prayer) in the fields at night. I know Rabbi Nachman's teachings are still very controversial, but I am confused here and consider myself a follower and believer of most of his teachings and have indeed seen myself grow through this practice of hisbodedus.

So how can it be that Rabbi Nachman seems to contradict the Shulchan Aruch? I'm sure this question is raised to Breslover Chassidim quite often frequently. You can't just say that Rabbi Nachman wasn't aware of his halacha - perhaps the Shulchan Aruch is referring to the three communal prayers only? Someone help here!

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    mekubalim in Safed at the before 400 years, at the time of SA already pray in fields – kouty Aug 31 '17 at 19:53
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    I think Rabbi Nachman actually says a "secluded forest" where no one will come in contact with you. The Shulchan Aruch brings up a case in which you are davening in an open field where people can see you. – ezra Aug 31 '17 at 20:05
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    Formal prayer vs informal prayer? – Shmuel Brin Aug 31 '17 at 20:26
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    Hisbodedus is NOT (in any way, shape or form) davening... – Mennyg Aug 31 '17 at 22:13
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    but he did say you can fold or crease my teachings anyway you want just don;t break one siman of S A ! – yonatanhakatan Oct 20 '17 at 13:41
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The source of the Shulchan Aruch's ruling is the Talmud in Berachos 34b:

אמר רב כהנא חציף עלי מאן דמצלי בבקתא

R. Kahana said: I consider a man impertinent who prays in a valley.(Soncino translation)

Tosafos there raises a question: The Torah states that Yitzchak went out to pray in the field! Tosafos's second answer is that the Talmud is only referring to a place where there are commonly people passing by.

וא"ת הכתיב ויצא יצחק לשוח בשדה י"ל דהתם מיירי בהר המוריה כדאמרי' בפסחים פרק האשה לא כיצחק שקראו שדה וכו' א"נ בקתא דהכא מיירי בבקעה במקום שרגילין שם בני אדם לעבור והולכי דרכים

Based on Tosafos's second answer "(solitary personal prayer) in the fields at night" would not seem to be a problem. Though the author of the Shulchan Aruch quotes Tosafos in the Beis Yosef, he questions the second answer by claiming that the issue from the Talmud does not appear to be about being disrupted by passersby. However, he doesn't outright reject Tosafos there, and some acharonim have defended Tosafos from the question (most notably R. David HaLevi Segal in Turei Zahav O.C. 90:2).

Thus, R. Nachman could have been relying on this explanation.

(It should also be noted that Rambam does not even codify this law in the first place.)

  • Also to be noted is Sh'A turning the בקתא of the gemara into an example of what his idea of מקום פרוץ is. The practicle difference is that the חצר בית המקדש & the plaza by the kotel should be problematic according the Shulchan Aruch. – user6591 Jun 13 '18 at 22:07

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