In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition to sit in close proximity to one praying Amida. We have also written that sitting in front or on the sides of one praying is an absolute prohibition along with the reasons behind this.
“Entering One’s Boundaries”
If one was seated and another individual stands and begins praying the Amida prayer nearby, the one praying is considered to have “entered the boundaries” of the individual sitting there before him. In such an instance, the seated individual is not obligated to get up and move somewhere else.
This means that although it is forbidden to sit within four Amot of one praying, this applies only when the one praying has begun his prayer before another individual sits down next to him. However, if one was seated before the other began praying, the individual praying cannot obligate his seated fellow to move away.
This is based on the words of the Gemara (Berachot 31b) where our Sages teach us that one “may not sit” near one praying; however, the Gemara does not say that one “may not be seated” there. This implies that the prohibition applies when one enters the four Amot of the individual praying and sits down there; however, if the individual praying “enters the boundaries” of the one sitting, he need not get up. The Rosh and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 102) rule likewise.
The Opinion of Rabbeinu Yitzchak Abohav
Rabbeinu Yitzchak Abohav writes that although, according to the letter of the law, one need not get up if one was seated before the individual praying “entered his boundaries,” nevertheless, it is preferable for one to act stringently and get up as a measure of piety, for merely being seated next to one praying is a disgrace, for it seems like one’s friend is praying and he is not. Additionally, it is likewise disgraceful for the one praying since he caused the seated individual to be in such a situation. It is therefore proper, as a measure of piety, to get up, even if the one praying “entered one’s boundaries.”
Summary: Although it is forbidden to sit near one praying Amida, nevertheless, if one was seated first and only then did another enter one’s four Amot and begin praying, one is not obligated to get up and move. One who acts stringently and gets up even in such a situation is especially praiseworthy.