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

Email this article to a friend

Leaving the King: Understanding the Three Steps Back After Shemoneh Esrei

Until the Last Moment

During the early 1900s poverty in Eastern Europe was so dire that many Jews were on the verge of starvation. Countless men left the shtetl behind and traveled to America in search of a job that could bring some relief to their families. On the day of a person’s departure, friends and family would accompany him to the train station to see him off.

When they arrived at the train station, the crowd would bid him farewell, except for close family, who would board the train and ride with him to the border. At the border everyone would say good-bye and return home, except for one person – his wife. She would continue on with him and delay their parting until the last possible moment – when he boarded the boat to America.

In Yiddish, they would say, “Tzu shver shidden, nisht shidden” – whoever has a hard time leaving, does not really leave. Even though husbands and wives would be separated for many years, many later testified that they remained close in their hearts. The final journey where the wife accompanied the husband until the last possible moment created a strong bond between them, which kept them attached for the coming years until they were finally reunited.

During Shemoneh Esrei we share such a moment of closeness with Hashem. At the conclusion of Shemoneh Esrei, when we take three steps backwards, we are given an opportunity to express our pangs of regret as we depart from His Presence. In doing so we create a bond that carries us through until the next time we meet.

These three steps backwards are one of the most crucial moments of our prayers, so much so that our Sages say, “If one does not take these three steps, it is better that he should not have said Shemoneh Esrei at all” (Yoma 53b). Let us look into the halachos and customs of this special mitzva.


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


 

ARTICLES ON KI SISA AND PURIM:

View Complete List

Terrorist Threat
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Haman's Offer of Silver Shekels
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

What Money Can Not Buy
Rabbi Yehudah Steinberg - 5774

ArtScroll

The Generous of Spirit He will be Blessed
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Believing vs. Knowing
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Oh No! Not DeNILE Again!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

“Purim & Pisces: Not your Average Fish Story” (Insights for the holiday of Purim)
Jon Erlbaum - 5770

When Giving is Taking
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

The Debt
Shlomo Katz - 5774

> Open for Business
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

Hear Conditioning
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

Why Did Moshe Need A Visual Image of The Half-Shekel Coin?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Ceding Control
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

The Birthplace of Idolatry
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Of Mice Traps and Men
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Every Jew is a Spark
Shlomo Katz - 5761



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