Halacha for Tuesday 16 Elul 5781 August 24 2021

The Prohibition to Walk in Front of One Praying

Not long ago, we have discussed the prohibition of sitting in close proximity of one praying. Let us now discuss the laws of walking and standing near one praying.

Walking Close to One Praying
The Gemara (Berachot 27a) states that one may not pass or stand in front of one praying Amida.

Rabbeinu Yonah’s Opinion
Rabbeinu Yonah explains that only standing or passing in front of one praying is forbidden; however, passing or standing on the side of one praying is permissible. Maran Ha’Bet Yosef proves that this is correct from the fact that the Gemara says that it is forbidden to sit within four Amot of one praying, which implies that standing is permissible.

“Entering One’s Boundaries” Regarding Standing
If one was standing and one comes and stands near him and begins praying, one need not move away, for the person praying has “entered his boundaries,” similar to what we have discussed regarding one who was seated next to a praying individual.

Guidelines of the Prohibition to Pass Before One Praying
The Poskim explain that the law regarding passing or standing in front of one praying applies only within four Amot (approximately 6.5 feet) of praying; however, passing in front of him when there is a greater distance between them is permissible. According to the holy Zohar, however, passing directly in front of one praying is forbidden even when one is further than four Amot away from the one praying. Since this is the opinion of the Zohar, although there is room for leniency according to the letter of the law, one who takes care not to pass in front of one praying even if one is more than four Amot away is especially praiseworthy.

There are those who discuss whether or not the prohibition to pass in front or sit in close proximity of one praying applies to a woman praying as well. Halachically speaking though, there is no doubt that these laws apply equally to men and women and there is no distinction between them whatsoever in this context. Although a woman is not obligated to pray three times daily, nevertheless, if she is standing and praying, Hashem’s presence stands across from her and one may not sit there out of respect for Hashem’s presence. Similarly, all other reasons we have given for this matter apply equally to both men and women.

This is especially true since the source for the prohibition to sit in close proximity of one praying is derived from a woman who prayed, namely Chana, mother of Shmuel Ha’Navi, as we have already explained.

Walking in Front of the Chazzan- A Comment From Maran zt”l
Just as it is forbidden to walk in front of an individual who is praying Amida, one may likewise not walk in front of the Chazzan as he recites the repetition. We remember that when the synagogue below Maran’s apartment was built, the Tevah was placed in the front row and the ark with the Sifrei Torah in front of it. In between them was an aisle that people used to get in and out of the room where Maran zt”l met with the public after prayers. It therefore occurred several times that people would walk in front of the Chazzan. When Maran zt”l saw this, he pointed out that this was forbidden. He instructed that a high and wide partition be built around the Tevah which would stand in front of the Chazzan and in this way, it would be permissible to walk in front of the Chazzan. This is indeed what was done.

Summary: One may not pass within four Amot of one praying. This prohibition only applies when one passes directly in front of one praying, as opposed to passing on the side or behind one praying which is permissible. It is likewise forbidden to stand in front of one praying when one is within his four Amot. These laws apply equally to men and women who are praying.

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

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha


Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: Approximately one week ago, we have discussed that, before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, I......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b) ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would......

Read Halacha