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

Email this article to a friend

Hand Positions

“Before Shemoneh Esrei, Rava would put his hands on his chest, one resting on the other, like a slave in front of his master” (Shabbos 10a). The halacha upholds this practice and recommends holding one’s hands in this position during Shemoneh Esrei (Shulchan Aruch 95,3). Halachic authorities note that this practice depends on the accepted custom for how one stands before a king, and if the custom changes the halacha will also change (Mishna Berura 95,6).

The Shulchan Aruch writes that one should place his right hand over his left. The left symbolizes the yetzer hara, man’s negative inclination, while the right symbolizes the yetzer hatov, the positive inclination. Putting one’s right hand over the left is a sign that the yetzer hatov should overpower the yetzer hara (Beis Yosef 95,3). The Zohar takes this symbolism one step further. Right symbolizes Hashem’s mercy, while left is a sign of strict justice. Placing one’s right hand over the left strengthens Divine mercy over harsh judgment during prayer (Darchei Moshe 95,3).

Based on this explanation, the Zohar warns against intertwining the fingers of one’s right and left hands at any time. Such a formation mixes an element of strict justice with Divine mercy, and is likely to bringing judgment upon oneself (Zohar 24a). Especially during prayer, when we are trying to arouse Hashem’s mercy, one should avoid interlocking one’s fingers (Be’er Heitiv 95,3).

Positioning one’s hands and other forms of body language are all meant to enhance one’s prayers. If such gestures are interfering with concentration, a person is better off taking a different position, such as putting his hands on the table in front of him or letting them hang by his sides. Everyone should recite Shemoneh Esrei in a way that is comfortable for conversing with Hashem, avoiding positions that feel awkward or disrespectful (Shulchan Aruch 95,3; Aruch Hashulchan 91,7).


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

The Dawn of a New Era
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

“You Can Take the Girl out of Hicksville, but...”
Jon Erlbaum -

Learning How To Walk
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

To The Place G-d Will Show Us
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

The Mind
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Big Potential
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

> I 'Na' Know...
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

A Self-Starter
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

Reaching for Perfection
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

ArtScroll

From Egypt to Israel
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

A House or a Home?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

Saved in Yaakov's Merit
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The chessed of Avraham
Shlomo Katz - 5773

The Standers and the Walkers
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Keeping Focus
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5767

The Mind's Eye
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772



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