17 Jan DRINKING WINE AND DAVENING
Wine plays an
important role in many
aspects of our lives. It
is used for Kiddush
and Havdalah, on
Purim, the four cups
of wine at the Seder,
and many other
occasions. It must
be used carefully,
however, as intoxicating beverages can
disqualify someone from being able to
daven, say Krias Shema, and recite other
brachos. How much wine would disallow
him from doing so? How long must he
wait until he sobers up? These and many
other issues relating to this very important
topic will be discussed below.
The Gemara says that one who is drunk and
davens (Shemoneh Esrei) is considered as
if he worships avodah zarah. The Gemara
also mentions that one who is careful not
to daven when he is drunk is saved from
pain and suffering.
The reason for this restriction is that he
will not be able to concentrate properly.
It is a disgrace to start davening when
One knows that he cannot concentrate.
Therefore, one who does so has davened
a tefillah which is an abomination.
There are different levels of inebriation
that are addressed by these halachos. To
make it simpler, we will divide it into a
If one drank less than a revi’is, or more
than a revi’is of wine or other intoxicating
beverages during a meal, and has a clear
mind, he may daven l’chatchilah and of
course say brachos, etc.
One who drank more than a revi’is of
wine or other intoxicating beverages, or
he drank during a meal and his mind is not
clear. However, he can speak clearly. The
He may not daven or recite Krias Shema
and birchos Krias Shema
until he sobers up.
Other parts of davening
are permitted, such
as Baruch She’amar,
Yishtabach etc. Even if
one is used to drinking a
lot and drinking a revi’is
(or more) does nothing
to him, he still may not
One who drank the
above amount can still
daven if waiting will
cause him to miss the
proper time for davening
However, if one drank a revi’is and knows
that his mind is clear then he would be
able to daven.
If one drinks to the point that he cannot
talk properly in front of a king or walk
straight, he is forbidden to daven (or say
Krias Shema and its brachos) even if the
time frame for davening will pass. There
are those who maintain that he may not be
counted toward a minyan, while others
are lenient with this. If he did daven
then his tefillah is an abomination.
One is allowed to say birchas hamazon
while he is drunk. It is preferable that
someone in this stage not say other
brachos as well, but if he did recite
them he was yotzei.
The Rema adds that if one is slightly
drunk, and although he cannot talk
straight does know that he can say
the words in a siddur, he may daven.
However, the overwhelming custom is
not to permit this.
One who drinks so much that he has no
idea what he is doing may not daven,
nor recite brachos. If he did daven or
recite a brachah it was not valid.
The entire discussion in this article
applies to intoxicating beverages.
However, one may drink as much grape
juice as he wishes and there would be
no issue of davening afterwards.
Kiddush on Shabbos
One who makes Kiddush on Shabbos
or Yom Tov with wine and drinks the
shiur of revi’is may still daven Mussaf,
since his mind is clear and he eats a
mezonos. Another option would be to
drink less than a revi’is or make Kiddush
on grape juice.
How to Calculate When Wine Wears
The Shulchan Aruch says that if one drank
a revi’is, then walking a mil (about 18
minutes) and sleep make the wine wear
off. However, if one drank more, then
sleeping a little and walking do not help
unless he walks three mil (54 minutes) on
foot, as opposed to riding in a car. Others
say that this calculation is difficult to
put into practice. Therefore, one should
simply evaluate as to whether the alcohol
still affects him. If one is drunk, this
may be hard, and he will need a friend to
evaluate for him.
Yom Tov and Purim
One of the most common times to drink
wine is on Yom Tov and Purim. The
poskim discuss this and say that Yom Tov
and Purim are times when it is a mitzvah
to be happy and drink. On these days,
some opine that one does not have to wait
until the wine wears off in order to daven.
(This is referring to a situation where he
drank but can speak before a king.