Halacha for Thursday 29 Shevat 5781 February 11 2021

Sitting Cross-Legged in the Synagogue-Maran zt”l’s Reproach to Those in His Synagogue

Question: May one sit with one’s legs crossed in the synagogue?

Answer: Rabbeinu Yitzchak of Corbeil writes in his Sefer Mitzvot Katan (end of Mitzvah 11): “Woe unto those who engage in idle chat or act frivolously while in the synagogue during prayers and by doing so, prevent themselves from entering the World to Come. If gentiles who do not believe stand in utter silence in their houses of prayer, this certainly applies to us when we stand before the King of All Kings.”

This means that the behavior of the other nations of the world is to respect their houses of worship and they sit there respectfully. If so, we must certainly act in this way when sitting in a synagogue which is considered a miniature Bet Hamikdash and we must act respectfully and politely when inside.

In his glosses to the Sefer Mitzvot Katan, Rabbeinu Peretz writes: “When sitting and praying, do not outstretch your legs or put them one on top of the other (cross them), for these are considered arrogant behaviors.” Based on the words of Rabbeinu Peretz, one may not sit cross-legged during prayer services. The Mishnah Berura (Chapter 95, Subsection 2) quotes this opinion.

Similarly, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim zt”l writes in his Sefer Ben Ish Hai that one should not cross one’s legs during prayer services. The reason for this is sitting cross-legged is impolite and is a sign of arrogance. Furthermore, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a writes in his Responsa of the Rishon Le’Zion (page 51) that it seems that it is forbidden to sit cross-legged any time one is in a synagogue, even if it is not during prayer services.

Indeed, when Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l would see people sitting cross-legged in his synagogue, he would point out to them gently that it is inappropriate to sit in this way in the house of Hashem.

Summary: One should not sit while crossing one’s legs in the synagogue during prayer services. Furthermore, it is inappropriate to sit in this manner in the synagogue even not during prayer services if there is no real necessity to do so.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

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

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

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

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha


The Privilege to Donate Tzedakah

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed how the prophet Yirmeya requested from Hashem that when the wicked wish to donate Tzedakah, he should present them with unworthy people. This means that the Tzedakah funds should go to unworthy causes, such as cheaters and con-artists. As such, the wicked w......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Unworthy Individuals

In the previous Halachot, we have explained the primary aspects of the Mitzvah of Tzedakah. If one transgresses any prohibition in the Torah and does not repent, for instance, if one is aware of the prohibition of shaving one’s beard with a razor and he nevertheless does so or one who dese......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha