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113:1. The following are the blessings for which we bow: Avot (the first blessing), both at the beginning and at the end, (1) and the prayer of Thanks (Modim), both at the beginning and at the end. If a person wishes to bow at the beginning or end of any other blessing, we teach him (2) that he should not; (3) (4) it is, however, permissible to bow in the middle of a blessing.

MB 1: Modim, both at the beginning and at the end – That is at the words “Modim”, and at “Blessed Art You, Whose Name is Good and it is pleasant to thank you.”

MB 2: That they should not – In order that they should not cause the enactment of our Sages to be undone, which would happen if every person will decide for him/herself where it is appropriate to be more stringent than the general standard. Furthermore, we suspect that such practice is a sign of arrogance, meaning the person feels himself to be more righteous than the rest of the congregation.

MB 3: Permissible to bow in the middle of a blessing – Most Acharonim concur that this is permitted, while the Yefe Mareh forbids.

MB 4: Ibid – In this case we do not worry that the enactment of our Sages will be undone, since the Sages did not legislate bowing in the middle of any blessing.

113:2. Those who have the custom of bowing (5) on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur whilst saying (6) “Zochreinu” and “Mi Komocha” (special insertions in the first two blessings during the Days of Awe), must be sure to stand upright when they come to the end of the blessing. {Remo: Despite the fact that we bow at the end of the Avot (first) blessing, one must still stand more upright before the end of the blessing in order to clarify that the bowing at the very end of the blessing is being done (7) in accordance with the Rabbinic enactment (and not the special custom). Tur}.

MB 5: On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur whilst saying – The same would apply for those who are accustomed on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to recite the entire prayer while in a bent over position – they would be required to stand upright at the beginning and end of every blessing in order to not add to the Rabbinic enactment, which requires such practice only in the aforementioned places.

MB 6: “Zochreinu” and “Mi Komocha” – These two places do not share the same reasoning. At the end of “Mechaye HaMeisim” (the second Blessing), where there is no legislated bowing, one must right oneself because otherwise one would be adding on to the Rabbinic Enactment. In the first blessing, however, where there is a legislated bowing, it would not be clear that one is acting in accord with the enactment if one did not first stand straight before then bowing once again. Therefore, in the case of the “Avot” Bracha, one should right oneself a few words before the actual concluding blessing, in order that he may then properly bow at the end. In the case of the Second Blessing, one may remain bent over up until the word Baruch, which must be said until the end in the upright position. The same would apply in any other blessing besides Avot and Modim.

MB 7: In accordance with the Rabbinic enactment – Since the first bowing was merely permissive, and also because one must right oneself in order to bow with the word “Baruch” and then stand straight when saying G-d’s name, as we will see shortly.

113:3. To bow at the passages “And every righted being shall prostrate before you” or at “To you alone we are grateful” (both in the Nishmat prayer), or (8) at the thanksgiving section of Hallel or the Grace After meals, is (9) repugnant. {Remo: Meaning, because one should not bow except where our Sages have enacted it}.

MB 8: At the thanksgiving section of Hallel or the Grace After meals – i.e. at the “Hodu L’Hashem Ki Tov” [Give thanks to G-d, for he is Good] in Hallel, or “Nodeh L’Cha” [We give thanks to you] or “Ve’al Hakol Anachnu Modim” [upon everything, we acknowledge and thank You] in the Grace After meals.

MB 9: Repugnant – Because one should not bow except where our Sages have so enacted. For this reason one should not bow at the blessings for Yerushalayim during the Grace and Shmoneh Esrei, unlike the opinion of the Maharil, (although the Magen Avraham said that perhaps one should bow slightly). All the aforementioned regards only the Shmoneh Esrei, but in other places one may bow as much as one desires. The Talmud relates that when Rabbi Akiva prayed he would begin in one corner of the room and would end in the other corner, due to all the bowing and prostration that he would do. The Poskim explain that he did so only after concluding the Shmoneh Esrei, and was saying additional prayers. The reason that the Shulchan Aruch forbade the bowing in this section is because these sections are said in the manner of praise and tribute, and bowing is inappropriate to this mode of prayer. The passage “And every righted being shall prostrate before you” is speaking about the whole world, and not the individual person, meaning that all shall bow before Him, Blessed be He, and so it is also a general praise. Nevertheless in Aleinu, where one says “And we bow..” about oneself, one may bow.

Leonard Oppenheimer [email protected]

[One reason that our Sages are so strict about adding to the bowing where not so legislated, is because one can really never praise G-D enough. If one adds bowing in certain places, the implication can be drawn that in the places that he/she did not bow, there was no need to do so. And that of course can be seen as an affront to the honor of G-D. Our sages express this way of thinking with the dictum, “One who adds, diminishes”. See Brachot 33b, where the story is told about the castigation given to a man who dared praise G-D by adding his own praises. — LO]

************************************************************************** Miss Ofra Felix HY”D, daughter of the chief Rabbi of the community of Elon Moreh, was murdered by Arab terrorists in the Shomron on Erev Shabbos. May our learning be an uplift for her martyred soul. **************************************************************************

Siman 113. The Laws of Bowing Down During the Eighteen Blessings [Shmoneh Esreh] (cont’d)

113:4. One who is praying must bow down enough that all the vertebrae in his spine (10) stick out. One should not only bow down at the waist and leave his head straight, but rather one should also bow his head.

MB 10: Will stick out – The Hebrew word for this is “yitpakeku”, from the root “pekak” meaning a knot. What the Shulchan Aruch is saying is that because of the bowing down the “knots” of the vertebrae should stick out.

113:5. One should not bow down (11) so much that his mouth is at the height of the belt of his pants. If one is old or sick and can not bow down so that the vertebrae stick out, then it is enough just to lower one’s head because it can be seen that he wants to bow down but it hurts him [to do so].

MB 11: So much – Because it seems like he is showing off that he is bowing down more than needed.

113:6. When one bows down, he should do so quickly, all at once, and then when he straightens back up he should do so slowly and gently, first his head and then the rest of his body, all in order that it not appear like a burden to bow down.

Avi Bloch [email protected]

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[This is being resubmitted, because apparently it failed to go out the first time. My apologies – my mailer insists that this was sent properly, but the listprocessor disagrees. — YM]

Siman 113 – Laws of Bowing (Lit., Bending the Knees) During the Silent Prayer (Shmoneh Esrei) (cont’d)

113:7. (12) When one is required to bow [see 113:1], one should bend the knees with the word “Baruch” [Blessed, the beginning word of the formula “Blessed are You, L-ord”] and (13) straighten up with “Ad-n-ai” [“L-ord”].

MB 12: When one is required to bow – When one says “Baruch” one should bend his knees, and then when he says “Atoh” he should bow until his vertebrae stand out. When one says “Modim” [“We thank”, the beginning of the next to last blessing of the Shmoneh Esrei], he should bow his head and body, like a reed, with one motion, and remain in this position until saying G-d’s name, at which point he should straighten up.

MB 13: Straighten up with “Ad-n-ai” – This is because it is written (Psalms 146:8) “The L-ord straightens the bent.”

113:8. If one is praying the Shmoneh Esrei, and someone passes before him (14) holding an idolatrous image at the same moment that one praying is normally required to bow, then one should not do so (15) even though his heart is directed towards Heaven.

MB 14: In his hand – See in the Magen Avraham, who writes that if the person walking by is a government official [“Sar”] it is permitted [the viewer is then likely to assume that the Jew is bowing not to the idol, but to the official — YM]. But in the Magen Giborim, the author writes that “Heaven forbid one should be lenient in this matter, especially during the Shmoneh Esrei.” [There is a special concern with the Shmoneh Esrei, since one is addressing G-d directly – LC.]

MB 15: Even though etc. – Since it appears that he is bowing to an idol.

113:9. One may not add to the list of words used to describe The Holy One, Blessed be He [found in the first blessing of the Shmoneh Esrei]: “The great, mighty, and awesome Al-mighty.” This prohibition applies only during the Shmoneh Esrei, because one is forbidden to change the language formulated by the Sages for the Amidah [lit. “One can not change the coin minted by the Sages”]. But with supplicatory prayers, requests and praises that a person says on his own, there is no such restriction. Nevertheless, it is proper for one who wishes to dwell on the praises of G-d to do so by reciting verses from Scripture [such as Psalms – LC].