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3 Steps after Amidah


Rabbi David Sperling

Sivan 18, 5774
Hello Rabbi, Would you please list for me the widely accepted method for taking the 3 steps back & forward I assume would be from the Mishna Berurah? Thanks in advance. M. Maizlech
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Haim. 123,3-4) rules that one takes three steps backwards at the end of the Amidah, however he does not describe the way to take the steps themselves. The Mishna Brurah (ibid, 13) writes that the correct procedure is to first move the left foot back one step until the toes are in line with the back edge of the heel of the right foot – that is considered one step. Then the right foot is moved backwards until its toes are in line with the back edge of the heel of the left foot (this step is longer than the first step) – step two. Then the left foot is moved back again, until it is equal and in line with the right foot, and now both feet are standing together – step three. This is the ruling of the Mishna Brurah, and the common practice. However, in the Biur Halacha, (ibid), the Mishna Brurah quotes a different opinion, which he writes is not the standard halachic ruling. None the less, as I have seen communities who follow this second opinion (which certainly has halachic basis), I will explain it also. According to this opinion a step is considered as moving the left leg backwards until the toes are in line with the back edge of the heel of right foot, and then also moving the right foot back an equal amount, until the two feet are in line with each other. This is done three times. As you see, according to this opinion one moves their feet six times (left, right, x3), as opposed to the first opinion where one moves their feet only three times (left, right, left). The standard practice, and ruling of the majority of rabbis, is to take the steps as per the first opinion. Blessings.
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