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Chapter 18: 9-11
Laws Pertaining to Shemoneh Esreh

9. A person should not burp or yawn in the midst of the Shemoneh Esreh. If, against his will, a person feels that it is necessary to do so, he should cover his mouth with his hands so that its opening will not be seen.

Similarly, it is forbidden to spit. If spittle comes to a person's mouth and it upsets him to the extent that his concentration on his prayers is disturbed, he may release it into a handkerchief or a garment. If that disgusts him, he should lean to his left and spit behind himself. If he cannot spit behind himself, he should spit towards his left side. If that is impossible, he should spit towards his right.

If a louse bites him, he should try to remove it while his hands are covered by his clothes, so that his attention will not be disturbed. However, he should not remove it with his hands [because after touching a louse, a person is required to wash one's hands].

Should a person's tallis slip off him, he may adjust it even though the majority of the tallis has fallen. However, if it has fallen off entirely, it is forbidden to wrap oneself in it again, since that is considered as an interruption.

If a holy text fell to the ground before him and this disturbs his concentration, he may pick it up between one blessing and another.

All the acts forbidden during the Shemoneh Esreh remain forbidden until one takes three steps backwards [at the conclusion of the prayers of supplications added after the Shemoneh Esreh]. (However, there is a difference regarding making an interruption [to respond to other prayers], as explained in Laws 14 [and15]).

10. A person must stand facing Eretz Yisroel, as [I King 8:48] states: "They will pray to You in the direction of their land." He should have the intention of facing Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Holy of Holies. Therefore, in our countries, which are to the west of Eretz Yisroel, we should stand facing east (more precisely, southeast). Those who live to the north of Eretz Yisroel should face south; those to the east, west; and those to the south,north. Thus, all Jews direct their prayers to one place Jerusalem and the Holy of Holies, because this is the "gateway to heaven," since all prayers rise up in this direction.

Therefore, the Temple is called Talpios as [Song of Songs 4:4] states: "Your neck is like the Tower of David, built as Talpios."

A person who prays in a place where he cannot face Eretz Yisroel should direct his heart to his Father in Heaven, as [I Kings 8:44] states: "Pray to G-d."

A person who stood facing the north or south and realized in the midst of the Shemoneh Esreh that he is not standing properly should not change the place where he is standing. Rather, he should turn his face to the east. If he is facing west, and thus turning his face to the east is impossible, he should conclude his prayers while standing in this manner without moving his feet, and direct his heart towards the Holy of Holies. Similarly, if a person is praying in a place where there are images of false gods to the east, he should face another direction.

11. One must bend the knee and bow four times in the Shemoneh Esreh: at the beginning and end of the first blessing, and at the beginning and end of the blessing Modim.

When a person recites Boruch, he should bend the knee, and when he says Attoh, he should bow to the extent that the vertebrae of the spine protrude. He should also bend his head. Before he recites G-d's name, he should return to an erect position slowly. (This is alluded to by {Psalms 146:8]: "G-d lifts up the bowed.") Similarly, in Modim, one should bend the knee, bow, and rise before reciting G-d's name.

A person should not bow overly low - i.e., he should not bow to the extent that is mouth is opposite his belt - because this is considered as proud behavior. It is sufficient for a sick or elderly person who suffers pain when bowing to bow his head.

It is forbidden to bow in the other blessings, either at their beginning or their conclusion.

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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.



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