Halacha for Sunday 27 Sivan 5779 June 30 2019

Taking Three Steps Back Before Praying

The Roke’ach (quoted by the Rama in his notation on Chapter 95) writes that before beginning to recite the Amida prayer, one should take three steps back, then take three steps forward (to one’s original place), and then stand there and begin praying silently. The reason for this is because this resembles an endearment and readiness to perform the matter at hand similar to when Moshe wished to pray to Hashem, he entered three partitions of darkness, cloud, and fog. This custom is quoted by the Kenesset Ha’Gedolah and other great Acharonim.

Although the Eliyah Rabba writes that there is no need to observe this custom since it is not mentioned in the Talmud or in the works of most Rishonim, nevertheless, the Mishnah Berura writes that the prevalent custom is to do so. Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim writes in his Sefer Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Beshalach) that there is a great reason behind this custom of taking three steps back and then taking three steps forward before praying according to the Kabbalah.

On the other hand, some say this custom is correct only when one is sitting and learning in a Bet Midrash or at home and suddenly realizes that the time for prayer has arrived, for in this case, one must take three steps back in order to prepare somewhat for prayer. However, if one has already taken many steps by walking to the synagogue to pray, one need not be meticulous regarding this custom.

Hagaon Peri Megadim writes that although one who has walked to the synagogue need not observe this custom, nevertheless, since this does not involve great difficulty and effort, it is preferable to do so.

Halachically speaking, those who customarily take three steps back and forward before praying shall surely be blessed; however, many great Sephardic luminaries were not meticulous regarding this custom at all, for they relied upon the Poskim who did not mention this custom or because they relied on the steps they took while walking to the synagogue. Indeed, we have observed that when Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l stood to pray in the exact location where he was sitting and praying right before, he would not take three steps back or forward before praying and he would act in accordance with Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and other Poskim who did not mention this custom at all.

Ask the Rabbi


הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Washing One’s Hands with Water from the Mediterranean Sea and Water Which has been Desalinated

Question: If one is at the beach and wishes to eat bread but has no water to wash one’s hands with, may one wash one’s hands using the water of the sea or ocean? Salty Water Answer: Regarding the laws of washing one’s hands for a bread meal, the Mishnah and Gemara teach us that......

Read Halacha

Immersing One’s Hands in Sea Water

We have explained in the previous Halacha that if one is on the beach and wishes to eat bread, one may not gather some sea water in a vessel and wash one’s hands, for sea water is salty and thus invalid for Netilat Yadayim. Immersing One’s Hands in a Spring, the Sea, or a Mikveh Howe......

Read Halacha

The Eight Levels of Tzedakah

The Rambam (Chapter 10 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that there are eight levels included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah with each one being greater than the other. The highest level of Tzedakah is by helping to support a Jew who lacks his basic needs by providing him with money by means of a gif......

Read Halacha

Listening to Music or Words of Torah in a Room Which Has a Bathtub or Shower in it

Question: May one recite holy words (words of Torah, prayer, or blessings) in a room with a bathtub or shower in it? Similarly, may one listen to holy songs or Torah lectures in such a room? Answer: There are two primary points which must be addressed: Firstly, whether or not one who is bathing a......

Read Halacha


Washing One’s Hands in the Restroom

Question: Is it permissible to wash one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) in the restroom or shower room? Answer: Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 4) rules that one who exits the restroom requires Netilat Yadayim. Maran Ha’Chida writes that this is because of the evil spirit which rests......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah and Donating a Tenth of One’s Earnings

By popular demand, we shall now discuss the topics of Tzedakah and donating a tenth of one’s earnings more broadly based on the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and the Poskim and based on what is written in the works of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l on this topic. Question: ......

Read Halacha

Food Items Touched by One Who Did Not Wash One’s Hands in the Morning

In the past, we have explained the obligation for one to wash one’s hands from a vessel every morning upon awakening from his sleep. We have also explained that when one awakens from one’s sleep in the morning, an evil spirit rests on one’s hands, for sleep is considered one-six......

Read Halacha

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha