Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Right or Left

In its initial form, nefilas apayim consisted of lying on the floor before Hashem. Since the Torah prohibits prostrating oneself face-down on a stone floor, it was necessary to tilt one’s head and body to the side. Even after our way of saying Tachanun changed, the custom of turning one’s head to the side remains (Biur Halacha 128,1).

Which direction we should turn on depends on how we are positioned in relation to the Shechina. The verse, “Hashem is your shadow on your right side” (Tehillim 121,5), implies that the Divine Presence is on one’s right. Based on this verse, some opinions rule that a person should rest his head on his left arm, and turn his face to the right, so that he will be facing the Shechina (Shulchan Aruch 131,1).

On the other hand, the verse, “I place Hashem before me always” (Tehillim 16,8), implies that the Divine Presence is directly in front of a person. Some authorities maintain that when leaning on one’s right arm and turning one’s head to the left, a person faces the right of the Shechina, which is before him (Tur 131,1). When one’s head is turned away from the left side of the Shechina and faces the right side instead, he fulfills the verse, “His left side is behind my head and His right side embraces me” (Shir Hashirim 2,6).

The Rema offers a compromise between these two options (128,1). In the morning, while wearing tefillin on one’s left arm, in order not to rest one’s head on the tefillin a person should lean on his right arm and face left. During Mincha, when one does not wear tefillin (according to most opinions), he should lean on his left arm and face right.


Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Bris Milah: Mark of Distinction
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

I Believe
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Redefining Pleasure
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5775

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Freedom of Man
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Jews On the Move
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Universal Responsibility
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Don't Doubt My G-d
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

Lech Lecha
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

A House or a Home?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

ArtScroll

Uniquely Human
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

Count Us If You Can
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Our Future Lies in Chevron
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

> No Second Thoughts
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Learning How To Walk
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Jews vs. Judaism
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

The Internal Journey
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information