Halacha for Thursday 13 Cheshvan 5778 November 2 2017

Leaning While Praying

Question: May one lean on any given object during points of the prayer where one must stand, such as during the Amida prayer?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Zevachim (19b) states that according to the Sages, one who leans on something while standing is not considered standing at all. The Poskim explain that the Halacha follows the opinion of the Sages that if one is leaning on something, he is considered to be sitting, not standing. (Although the Poskim quote several different scenarios, we shall only write the bottom-line of the Halacha.)

The Tosafot (ibid.) therefore write that at a time when one is obligated to be standing, one should not lean on any object. The Rosh and other great Rishonim rule likewise. Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 141 and end of Chapter 94) quotes their opinions.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 94) rules as follows: “One should take care not to lean against a pillar (such as prayer stand, i.e. “Shtenders” or pillars of the building) or against one’s friend while praying (i.e. reciting the Amida prayer).”

Similarly, when one is required to sit, such as while reciting “Nefillat Apayim” (supplication prayer after Vidduy), Maran Ha’Chida (in his Sefer Kesher Gudal, Chapter 19) that one should lean against something and one may then recite the “Nefilat Apayim” in this way, for one leaning on something is considered sitting.

Nevertheless, regarding Birkat Hamazon, where Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 183) writes that one must recite it while seated in order for one to be able to recite it with maximum concentration, it seems that one should not rely on this leniency and recite it while standing but leaning on something since one will still not be able to concentrate properly in this position. The great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a rules accordingly in his Sefer Yalkut Yosef (Tefillah, page 442).

Summary: During the parts of the prayer service where one must be standing, i.e. while reciting the Amida prayer, one must not lean on any object, for when one leans on something, one is not considered standing.

If one is elderly or ill and cannot stand without leaning on something, one may do so, for this is certainly more preferable than actually sitting down.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Vows and Oaths

Question: Is it forbidden to make vows even when one intends to fulfill them? Answer: We must first explain what the Torah meant by “vows.” The Gemara (Nedarim 13a) explains that the primary vow referred to by the Torah is when one attributes a prohibition to the specific object one i......

Read Halacha

Is One Obligated to Wear a Tallit Katan (Small Four-Cornered Garment) at all times in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzit?

The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim (113b) states that there are seven kinds of individuals that are excommunicated in Heaven and among them is one who does not don Tefillin on his arm and head, tie Tzitzit to his garment, and place a Mezuzah on his doorpost. The Tosafot (ibid.) write that it seems that......

Read Halacha

More Customs Observed During the Omer Counting Period

Some have the custom that during the Omer counting period (until the 34th day of the Omer), one does not wear a new garment which requires the recitation of the “Shehecheyanu” blessing (i.e. a new garment which causes the wearer joy, such as a new shirt and the like; however, a new garme......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Inserting “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo”

Today, Sunday, the Thirtieth of Nissan, is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Tomorrow, Monday, the First of Iyar, is the second day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Inserting “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo” into the Rosh Chodesh Prayers Our Sages instituted that one add the “Ya’ale......

Read Halacha

Chol Ha’Mo’ed

The days between the first and seventh days (outside of Israel between the second and eighth days) of the Pesach holiday and the days between the first day of Sukkot and the holiday of Shemini Atzeret (outside of Israel between the second day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret) are called “Chol Ha&......

Read Halacha

The Omer Counting Period

The period of the counting of the Omer is exalted indeed and filled with sanctity, as the Ramban writes in his commentary on Parashat Emor that the days between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot, i.e. the Omer counting period, retain the sanctity of Chol Ha’Moed and are not days of national t......

Read Halacha

Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the IDF- Maran zt”l’s Following the Yom Kippur War

Today is Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. Last year, we had mentioned the words of Maran zt”l with regards to the deaths of the soldiers of the IDF where he quoted the Gemara (Baba Batra 10b) regarding the Martyrs of Lod, about whom the Gemara states that no o......

Read Halacha