Halacha for Thursday 18 Elul 5781 August 26 2021

Taking the Customary Three Steps Back Upon Conclusion of the Amida When there is Someone Praying Behind an Individual

In the previous Halachot we have explained that one may not stand or pass in front of one praying Amida.

Let us now discuss the law regarding one who has concluded his Amida prayer and behind him stands another congregant who has not yet concluded his Amida. If, at this point, the individual in front were to take the customary three steps back marking the conclusion of the Amida, he will thereby be entering the four Amot of another individual who is praying.

Thus, if one concludes his Amida prayer and realizes that the person behind him is still praying, one may not take three steps back; rather, one must stand in place until the individual behind him concludes his Amida prayer. The same applies to women, especially during the High Holidays when the Amida prayers are longer than usual and one woman finishes praying while another woman behind her has not yet concluded her prayer; the woman in front may not take three steps back until the woman behind her takes her customary three steps back.

As we have discussed, this prohibition applies only when one enters the four Amot (6.5 feet) and when one will be standing directly in front of the one praying. However, if one does not enter the four Amot of the one praying behind him or if one is not standing directly in front of him and is on his side, one may take his customary three steps back and recite “Osseh Shalom.”

The Law Regarding a Chazzan
If a Chazzan concludes his silent Amida prayer but cannot take three steps back because there is a congregant still praying behind him but cannot wait since doing so will mean delaying the entire congregation, the Chazzan should not take three steps back; rather, he should immediately begin the repetition of the Amida and at the conclusion of the repetition, he should recite “Osseh Shalom” in an undertone and then take three steps back. If the Chazzan decides to take three steps back at the conclusion of his silent Amida and not to wait, he indeed has on whom to rely.

Summary: If one concludes one Amida prayer and there is another individual still praying behind him, one may not take three steps back until the person behind him concludes his prayer, for one cannot stand directly in front of one praying within four Amot. If the individual still praying is not directly behind him or if he is more than four Amot away (and even after taking three steps back, one will not enter his four Amot), one may take three steps back immediately.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

The Laws of One Who Forgets to Mention “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” in the “Blessing of the Years”

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed in a general manner that our Sages enacted that beginning from the Seventh of Marcheshvan (outside of Israel from the Fourth or Fifth of December), one begins reciting “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” (a request for dew and rain) in the “B......

Read Halacha

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

“The Blessing of the Years”

Beginning from last night, the Seventh of Marcheshvan, we have begun to request rain in the Amida prayer (only in the Land of Israel; the law for those outside of Israel will be discussed further). Let us therefore review some of these pertinent laws. The Enactment of the Sages to Request Rain O......

Read Halacha


When the Sanctity of Shevi’it Will Apply to Fruits and Vegetables and More on “Heter Mechira”

In the previous Halachot we have explained that any produce grown in Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel this year (5782) retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have likewise discussed the ramifications of this sanctity and the proper way to treat such produce. This sanctity rests even on f......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Shevi’it in a Cooperative Garden

This year (5782) is the Shemitta year. In previous Halachot, we have already explained the basic laws of Shemitta including the fact that one may not plant in or work (in any manner) any land within the Land of Israel unless the work is meant to protect the crops from harm that will befall them if t......

Read Halacha

Sprouting Avocado Pits During Shevi’it and the Blessing on Hydroponic Produce

Question: What is the blessing on vegetables that grow from the water (and not from the ground)? Likewise, is it permissible to plant such hydroponic produce during Shevi’it? Answer: The Blessing on Mushrooms and Truffles The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (40b) states: “On things whi......

Read Halacha

Forbidden and Permissible Forms of Work During Shevi’it

In this Halacha and the next, we shall discuss the basic laws of tending to a garden during Shevi’it. We shall not discuss all of the details of these laws, for these laws do not apply to those residing outside of Israel. Works Forbidden by Torah Law and Rabbinic Enactment Some works forbi......

Read Halacha