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!

  • 2
    mekubalim in Safed at the before 400 years, at the time of SA already pray in fields
    – kouty
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 19:53
  • 1
    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
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 20:05
  • 2
    Formal prayer vs informal prayer? Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 20:26
  • 3
    Hisbodedus is NOT (in any way, shape or form) davening...
    – Mennyg
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 22:13
  • 2
    This entire section of the SA is referring to the Amida. Hisbodedus is talking privately to Gcd. I do not understand the question. Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


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
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 22:07

Rebbe Nachman's teachings are anything but 'controversial' and apply to all Jews, as the importance of hitbodedut has also been taught by Chazal and many great Tzaddikim. There is a misunderstanding in your question as to what hitbodedut actually is and where it's source comes from.

חידושי אגדות על מסכת עבודה זרה ה׳ א:ט׳

מי יתן והיה לבבם וגו' ה"ל לומר תן כו'. גם שאמרו הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים מ"מ פשיטא דביד הקב"ה להטות לב בני אדם לטובה דכמה כתובים מורים ע"ז וכמ"ש לעיל וקאמר דמשה לא רמזה כו' דכתיב ולא נתן לכם לב לדעת וכו' דהיינו שרמזה להם שיש ביד הקב"ה לתת ולהטות לבם לטובה והם כפויי טובה ולא שאלו לו על כך

Rabbeinu' Zal does not state that you should do your prayer / 'avodah' in a field, but rather that you should do 'hitbodedut' in a field or in an environment surrounded by nature. He prescribed that you should talk with Hashem in your own words - hitbodedut, in your own language and pour out your heart to Him like your best friend.

Hitbodedut originally comes from Yosef haTzadik in the Torah and many Tzaddikim including the Moshe Rabbeinu, Dovid HaMelekh and the Baal Shem Tov etc made it a daily practice:

וְדַע, שֶׁכַּמָּה וְכַמָּה צַדִּיקִים גְּדוֹלִים מְפֻרְסָמִים סִפְּרוּ, שֶׁלֹּא בָּאוּ לְמַדְרֵגָתָם, רַק עַל־יְדֵי הַנְהָגָה זוֹ." וְהַמַּשְׂכִּיל יָבִין מֵעַצְמוֹ גֹּדֶל מַעֲלַת הַנְהָגָה זוֹ, הָעוֹלָה לְמַעְלָה לְמַעְלָה, וְהוּא דָּבָר הַשָּׁוֶה לְכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִקָּטֹן " וְעַד גָּדוֹל, כִּי כֻּלָּם יְכוֹלִים לִנְהֹג הַנְהָגָה זוֹ, וְעַל־יְדֵי זֶה יָבוֹאוּ לְמַעְלָה גְּדוֹלָה. אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיֹּאחַז בָּזֶה:

Wishing you success in your learning.

  • 1
    The OP does not mention hitbodedut. He talks about 'praying' in a field. Are you suggesting he is referring to hitbodedut rather than the shimonei esrei? If so, how do you know? Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 22:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .