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.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

Reciting The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Fragrant Objects

Question: Should one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a fragrant object which renews itself yearly? Answer: The root of this question is based on what we rule that regarding any fruit which renews itself yearly, such as berries and pomegranates, before partaking of that fruit for......

Read Halacha


Measuring for the Purpose of a Mitzvah

In the previous Halacha we have mentioned that our Sages have prohibited any kind of measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov. For instance, one may not weigh various foods items or beverages on Shabbat. Although the scale is mechanical and not electronic, this is likewise a rabbinic prohibition. Measurin......

Read Halacha

Walking on Grass and Climbing a Tree on Shabbat

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is reaping. Included in this prohibition is detaching anything that grows from the ground, whether with regards to wheat and barley or anything else which grows from the earth. The Prohibition to Climb a Tree on ......

Read Halacha

Measuring on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Question: On Yom Tov when cooking is permissible, may one use a mechanical scale (not an electronic one) to weigh the ingredients one needs for cooking? Answer: Our Sages prohibited measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov, for this is considered a “mundane act”, i.e. an action performed speci......

Read Halacha

Question: May one set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat?

Answer: It would seem to be prohibited to set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat based on the Baraita (Shabbat 18a) which states, “One may not place wheat into a water-operated mill (before Shabbat) in order for the wheat to be ground on Shabbat.” Although no forbidden work is being per......

Read Halacha