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

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

Megillah Reading-The Proper Procedure for One Who Has Missed Hearing a Portion of the Megillah

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor

On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Tetzaveh this year, 5777) and in the second one we read the portion of &ld......

Read Halacha


The Custom of the “Commemoration of the Half-Shekel”-5777

It is customary to donate money before Purim as “a commemoration of the Half-Shekel” which was donated by the entire Jewish nation when the Bet Hamikdash stood. This money is customarily collected on the eve of Purim before reading the Megillah, as our Sages tell us (Megilla 13b) that &l......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Chametz and Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach

The Essence of Leavening The Torah (Shemot 13) tells us regarding the holiday of Pesach: “Matzot shall be eaten for seven days; neither leaven nor sourdough shall be seen in all of your borders.” The leaven that the Torah prohibits is produced by the combination of grain-flour and water......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur-Unique Laws for this Year

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

Some Detailed Laws Regarding Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach

In the previous Halacha we have briefly discussed the primary laws of Chametz and Kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach. We have explained that according to all communities, legumes such as rice and chick peas are not actual Chametz, for only grain products can be considered Chametz. However, Ashkenazim cust......

Read Halacha