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 MASEI AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

From the Depths of Your Heart
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5767

Unquestioned Answers
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Marriage Vows
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

An Ounce of Prevention
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

The Number Forty-Two
Shlomo Katz - 5767

Personal Judge
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

> With All Due Respect
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Chazak
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

Armed with the Past
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

ArtScroll

Travel Experience
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Personal Tragedies
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Passion for Kavod
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Clear Vision
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Close Enough?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Connectivity
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

The Question/Answer Dynamic
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763



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