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Moving While Praying

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Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Elul 22, 5780
Question
Should I move my body or stand still while praying? Are there sources? thanks
Answer
ב"ה Shalom I'll start with the bottom line. There are those who say you should "sway" or "Shuckle" as they in Yiddish while praying and there are those who say not to. Therefore, each person may choose his custom according to what makes him pray better with more intention. (See Magen Avraham, Mishna Brura on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 48.) There are early sources in the Zohar (Parshat Pinchas) which speak of the importance of swaying the body. This can be found also in the Kuzari 2: 79, Machzor Vitri 508, Ba'al Haturim Shemot 20:15. However, these sources speak of swaying while learning Torah but do not mention Tefilla. This custom is also mentioned in the Abudraham (on Birkot Hashachar) in the context of learning Torah, where he quotes the verse in Tehillim (35:10) " all my bones shall say, G-d who is like you" to express that when the body sways it also part of praising Hashem. From here the Rema (on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 48) infers that swaying is to be done during Tefilla as well. However, there are Kabbalists who say that it is inappropriate to sway during Tefilla because a person wouldn't begin to sway in front of a king of flesh and blood. In addition, they say that swaying diminishes the ability to concentrate during Tefilla. Therefore, as I began with the Mishna B'rura, each person may choose his custom according to what makes him pray better with more intention and concentration. All the best שנה טובה ומבורכת
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