Thursday, October 18, 2012

Stepping out of the amidah


If someone is reciting shemoneh esreih in the row behind me, may I step back from my own shemoneh esreih?

One may not pass within seven feet in front of a person who is reciting shemoneh esreih, and some extend this to people reciting kaddish. The point is to avoid distraction, as well as to avoid trespassing in the space of the shechinah. This applies even if the person reciting shemoneh esreih started after the rest of the minyan. Some limit the prohibition to the space directly in front of the person, though.

If there is an interceding bench, and the back of the bench is more than three feet high and fifteen inches wide, then some permit one to step back from shemoneh esreih. Even without this interruption, some are lenient in a case of need, particularly if the person who is reciting shemoneh esreih is blocking an aisle.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 102:4-5; Mishneh Berurah 102:2, 15-16; Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 122:13; Yabia Omer 5:Orach Chaim 9:4; Tzitz Eliezer 9:8:2)

Have a great day,


  1. Is seven feet the current/standard/your own translation of four amos? Or is there another measurement there?

  2. It was just a quick, imprecise rendering of "four amot". I normally use Rav Moshe's tefach of 3.6 inches; under that calculation, an amah is 21.6 inches, and four amos is 86.4 inches, or 7 feet, 2.4 inches.