Sunday, August 26, 2012

Reciting tachanun with a bare arm


When "falling forward" for tachanun, may I lean on a bare arm?

One reason we "fall forward" when reciting the first part of Tachanun is to demonstrate embarrassment for our sins, and so we lean forward, turn toward the ground and cover our faces with our arms. The Ari z"l said that one should use the arm, specifically, rather than the hand.

A bare arm is not considered a 'cover' for one's face, because the face and arm are composed of the same substance; one who is wearing short sleeves should cover the arm with some material before reciting Tachanun. Similarly, covering one's head with a hand does not constitute adequate covering in place of a yarmulka when uttering HaShem's Name.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 74:2, 91:4; Taz Orach Chaim 8:3; Magen Avraham 91:4; Ba'eir Heiteiv 131:2; Mishneh Berurah 2:12; 131:3)

Have a great day,


  1. Good evening, What, then, is the best way to manage in the summer, when we're often in short sleeved shirts. Put on a tallis (at Mincha)? (presumably one can use the Tallis as an acceptable "cover" for the arm). Always wear long-sleeved shirts? Always wear a jacket anytime we'll be saying tachanun?

  2. Hi Michael,

    I do think a jacket is nice for davening, but in the absence of a jacket one might use anything - a tissue, a piece of paper - to cover one's arm. But I do think those might look odd, returning me to the jacket.