Halacha for Thursday 24 Sivan 5779 June 27 2019

Positioning One’s Feet While Praying

Question: While standing and praying the Amida prayer, must one completely join one’s feet together or is it sufficient for one’s heels to be touching one another?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 10b) states that Rabbi Yose bar Chanina said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov that one who prays must join one’s feet together, for the verse states regarding the angels (Yechezkel 1), “And their feet were (like) a straight foot” and when we pray we are speaking to the king and must resemble the Heavenly angels.

Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 95) quotes the great Rabbeinu Yitzchak Abohav that the reason one must position one’s feet next to one another while praying is because this comes to hint to us that we have nowhere to go or to flee, for we can achieve nothing without Hashem’s divine assistance at all times.

The holy Zohar (Parashat Pinchas) states regarding the verse “And their feet were a straight foot” that the authors of the Mishnah said that one praying must position his feet like the Heavenly angels. Hashem tells the angels, “If you see people that are special in the way they pray through the way they stand in prayer, open the gates of the sanctuary for them to enter.”

The students of Rabbeinu Yonah write that there are those who customarily join only their heels together but leave some space between the front of their feet, where the toes are; there is a basis for this custom, for the verse states regarding the angels, “And the palm of their feet is like the palm of a calf’s foot.” The Meiri likewise upholds this custom.

Nevertheless, the students of Rabbeinu Yonah conclude that this reason is not enough to uphold this custom, for our Talmud states that one must join one’s feet together completely so that they actually resemble one foot.

Halachically speaking, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Maran Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a, rules (in his Yalkut Yosef, Tefillah, Volume 1, page 346) that joining one’s heels together is insufficient and one must join one’s feet together completely.

Nevertheless, one who is elderly or infirm and finds it difficult to join one’s feet together and this serves to disturb one’s prayer, such an individual need not be so meticulous regarding this law. Indeed, we have seen that Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, who throughout his life was careful to join his feet together completely, was not so meticulous about this in his advanced age and would sometimes join only his heels together.

We must point out that even when Maran zt”l was ill and his bones were broken, he made great efforts to stand during the Amida prayer. Although this would cause him great suffering as a result, he nevertheless put forth an effort to do so in order to fulfill the edict of our Sages that one resemble an angel while praying. May his merit serve to protect us and the entire nation of Israel, Amen.

8 Halachot Most Popular

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 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

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