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WHAT IS ONE ALLOWED TO EAT OR DRINK BEFORE SHAHARIT?

As a general rule, it is forbidden to even take a small taste of food after dawn until one prays Shaharit, as it is considered arrogant to eat before speaking to Hashem (Shulhan Aruch 89:5). If one began to eat a half-hour before dawn, he should stop eating at dawn. The Zohar maintains that one should not eat after waking up even before dawn until he prays. However, if a person is ill or feels weak, and eating a small amount will enhance his ability to pray, he may do so, but he should preferably recite birkot hashahar before eating. If one needs to take medicine which requires him to first eat a substantial amount of food, he should first recite birkot hashahar and Shema and then eat (Biur Tefillah). Children may eat before Shaharit, but from the age of 12 a child should begin training not to eat before praying (Halachah Berurah , p. 549, note 24). Women who recite birkot hashahar may eat and drink even an entire meal before praying the rest of Shaharit.

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MAY ONE DRINK COFFEE OR TEA BEFORE SHAHARIT?

One may drink water before Shaharit, but other beverages, such as beer and milk, are forbidden. It is permissible to drink tea and coffee before Shaharit. The Mishnah Berurah rules that one may not drink tea or coffee to which sugar was added, but most contemporary halachic authorities, including HaGaon Hacham Ovadia Yosef, shelita, maintain that sugar is allowed since this has become the common way of drinking tea and coffee. One should not add milk to his coffee before Shaharit unless he feels weak (Halachah Berurah). If one drinks tea or coffee before Shaharit, he should do so with the intention of drinking so he could have energy to properly pray and serve Hashem. It is improper for people congregate in a coffee room and get involved in conversation before Shaharit.

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MAY ONE TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE OR TIDY UP THE BEDS BEFORE PRAYING?

Small tasks that do not require much work, such as taking out the garbage or making the beds, may be performed before Shaharit in the morning. Stirctly speaking, it is also permissible to quickly glance at a newspaper or check one’s emails, but detailed reading or tending to numerous emails would be forbidden starting a half-hour before dawn. Even before performing small tasks, it is preferable to first recite birkot hashahar, as praying to Hashem must be one’s highest priority upon awaking in the morning.

& Jamileh bat Mazal Cohena.h.

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