Halacha for Wednesday 23 Sivan 5779 June 26 2019

The Laws of Bowing During the Amida Prayer-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have discussed the basic laws of bowing during the Amida prayer, i.e. at the beginning and end of the “Magen Avraham” and “Modim” blessings. We have likewise explained the proper way to bow. Let us now discuss whether or not the custom that many have to bend their knees while bowing is correct or if one should merely bow by bending one’s back and nodding one’s head.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 113) writes: “When one bows, one should bow forward once quickly and when one straightens up, one should do so slowly by straightening one’s head first and then one’s body.” It seems according to this that when one bows, one should bow one’s body and head together and when straightening up, one should straighten one’s head first. Nevertheless, according to many Poskim including the saintly Ari z”l, one should not bow all at once; rather, while reciting the word “Baruch,” one should bow one’s body and while reciting the word “Ata,” one should bend one’s head. When straightening up, one should first straighten one’s body and only then one’s head. Some customarily behave in accordance with the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch while others follow the opinion of the Ari z”l.

The reasons behind this matter are lengthy and we cannot elaborate on them in the context of this Halacha.

According to all opinions though, when reciting Hashem’s name, one must be standing erect, as the verse states, “Hashem straightens the bent.” The Rishonim explain this to mean that before one recites the name of Hashem, one must already be standing erect as opposed to straightening up while reciting Hashem’s name.

Based on the above, it is clear that bending one’s knees while bowing is indeed unnecessary and bowing one’s body and bending one’s head are sufficient. Nevertheless, according to the Ashkenazi custom, while reciting the word “Baruch,” one should bend one’s knees and while reciting the word “Ata,” one should bow one’s body until one’s vertebrae protrude from one’s back (as we have explained in the previous Halacha). The custom of most Sephardic and Middle Eastern communities is not to bend one’s knees at all and one will bow his body until one’s vertebrae protrude already while reciting the word “Baruch.”

Upon reaching the “Modim” blessing, one should bow one’s body while reciting the words “Modim Anachnu Lach,” bend one’s head while reciting the words “She’ata Hu,” and straighten up before reciting the word “Hashem.”

Summary: When one reaches the blessings during which one must bow, one should bow one’s body and head together quickly while reciting the word “Baruch” (according to the Ari z”l, one should bow one’s body while reciting the word “Baruch” and bend one’s head while reciting the word “Ata”). According to the Ashkenazi custom, one should bend one’s knees slightly while reciting the word “Baruch,” bow one’s body and head while reciting the word “Ata” and then straighten one’s head and then body before reciting Hashem’s name. According to opinion of the Ari z”l, however, one should first straighten one’s body and only then one’s head according to both the Sephardic and Ashkenazi customs.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

A Negligent COVID-19 Patient

Question: If one becomes ill with the Coronavirus due to one’s own negligence to the extent that one becomes bedridden, must this individual recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing upon recovering? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that one who becomes ill to the po......

Read Halacha

The “Ha’Gomel” Blessing for One Who Has Recovered from the Coronavirus

Question: If one was sick with the Coronavirus but was not in any life-threatening danger and the illness merely caused one to be bedridden, must one recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing? Answer: In the previous Halacha we explained that there are four types of people that must recite......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the “Ha’Gomel” Blessing

Our Sages enacted that one who has experienced an event in which there was some danger involved must thank Hashem for the goodness which He has bestowed upon him in front of ten men, as we shall soon explain. The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (54a) states: “Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav:......

Read Halacha


Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Motza’ei Tisha Be’av and the Tenth of Av

----------------------------- By Popular Request: According to the Sephardic custom, it is permissible to shave, take a haircut, and do laundry immediately at the conclusion of the fast tonight. Ashkenazim customarily rule leniently in this regard. However, this year (5780), when the Tenth of Av fa......

Read Halacha

Eating a Meal on Erev Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to eat a bread meal after halachic midday on Erev Shabbat (Friday afternoon)? Answer: The Gemara (Gittin 38b) states that there were two wealthy and important families in Jerusalem and both of them sinned to the extent that they were eventually uprooted from the world. ......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding the Mitzvah of Making a Railing

Approximately two years ago, we have discussed the general parameters of the verse, “And you shall make a railing for your roof and you shall not place blood in your home.” This refers to building a gate or fence around the roof of one’s home so that one does not fall off of it. Th......

Read Halacha