Halacha for Thursday 18 Elul 5781 August 26 2021

Taking the Customary Three Steps Back Upon Conclusion of the Amida When there is Someone Praying Behind an Individual

In the previous Halachot we have explained that one may not stand or pass in front of one praying Amida.

Let us now discuss the law regarding one who has concluded his Amida prayer and behind him stands another congregant who has not yet concluded his Amida. If, at this point, the individual in front were to take the customary three steps back marking the conclusion of the Amida, he will thereby be entering the four Amot of another individual who is praying.

Thus, if one concludes his Amida prayer and realizes that the person behind him is still praying, one may not take three steps back; rather, one must stand in place until the individual behind him concludes his Amida prayer. The same applies to women, especially during the High Holidays when the Amida prayers are longer than usual and one woman finishes praying while another woman behind her has not yet concluded her prayer; the woman in front may not take three steps back until the woman behind her takes her customary three steps back.

As we have discussed, this prohibition applies only when one enters the four Amot (6.5 feet) and when one will be standing directly in front of the one praying. However, if one does not enter the four Amot of the one praying behind him or if one is not standing directly in front of him and is on his side, one may take his customary three steps back and recite “Osseh Shalom.”

The Law Regarding a Chazzan
If a Chazzan concludes his silent Amida prayer but cannot take three steps back because there is a congregant still praying behind him but cannot wait since doing so will mean delaying the entire congregation, the Chazzan should not take three steps back; rather, he should immediately begin the repetition of the Amida and at the conclusion of the repetition, he should recite “Osseh Shalom” in an undertone and then take three steps back. If the Chazzan decides to take three steps back at the conclusion of his silent Amida and not to wait, he indeed has on whom to rely.

Summary: If one concludes one Amida prayer and there is another individual still praying behind him, one may not take three steps back until the person behind him concludes his prayer, for one cannot stand directly in front of one praying within four Amot. If the individual still praying is not directly behind him or if he is more than four Amot away (and even after taking three steps back, one will not enter his four Amot), one may take three steps back immediately.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Eat in the Sukkah

Since there is not so much time left to discuss the laws of Sukkot, let us now spend the next few Halachot discussing some pertinent Halachot for the upcoming Sukkot holiday. A Meal of an Established Character Throughout the entire Sukkot holiday, both during the night and day, it is prohibited ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Selichot Alone, Without a Minyan

Question: If one is unable to recite Selichot with a Minyan (quorum of at least ten Jewish men) for whatever reason or if a woman wishes to recite Selichot and she cannot do so with a Minyan, may one recite the Selichot texts alone or should one abstain from doing so? Answer: If one wishes to rec......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Eating a Kezayit of Bread in the Sukkah on the First Night of Sukkot and One who is Uncomfortable in the Sukkah

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one may not eat an established meal outside of the Sukkah anytime during the Sukkot holiday. One must be aware that the reward for the Mitzvah of Sukkah is that it protects one during turbulent times (see Zohar, Parashat Tetzaveh). The Mitzvah of......

Read Halacha

The Custom of “Tashlich”

Following Mincha services of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to go to a seashore, river, well, or pit in order to recite the order of “Tashlich.” If there is no river, lake, or pond in close proximity of one’s vicinity, it is likewise perfectly acceptable to recite ......

Read Halacha

The Proper Behavior for the Days of Rosh Hashanah-The Custom of Maran zt”l

It is customary to eat red meat and sweet foods on the days of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse in Nechemia states, “Go eat fatty foods and drink sweet beverages and sent gifts of food to those who do not have, for the day is sanctified to our Lord.” One may not fast at all on Rosh Hashana......

Read Halacha

Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

It is a positive Torah commandment to hear the Shofar blasts on the day of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse states, “It shall be a day of [Shofar] blasts for you.” One may not speak between the various sets of Shofar blasts and certainly not during the blasts themselves. The Poskim disagree r......

Read Halacha