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Is there a reason that people sway back and forth while praying?

I saw a lot of people pray like this, but I'm too shy to ask them why do they do this.

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Actual answer, is because people see other people doing it, and copy that action. But hopefully answers here will explain why the custom started. –  avi Feb 25 '12 at 20:11
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Hello Tomer, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thank you for your interesting question! Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. Thanks again, and I hope to see you around the site! –  HodofHod Feb 26 '12 at 3:27

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Assuming the question means why do we shockel/shuckle in davening, I found the following article by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon who quotes Rabbi Shimon Schwab ztz"l. He says that our relationship with HaShem in davenning is motivated by love (swaying forward) and fear (moving away). There are those who are against shockeling in davening, see for example here under "Related customs".

I found another excellent answer at Ohr Somayach Ask the Rabbi. He adds, (1) the soul is like a flame flickering and striving upward, (2) shaking allows you to pray with your whole body, (3) when we stand before Hashem in prayer, we tremble in awe of the King of Kings and (4) it originally enabled many people to use one siddur by swaying in and out to read a set of words.

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Yalkut Yosef (vol. 1 1:footnote18) holds that those that sway in prayer to bring Kawana have sources to rely on. Obviously, he has some Sevara that it awakens Kawana.

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I do it because this way it is more easy to concentrate on the words of the prayers.

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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/14667. –  msh210 Feb 26 '12 at 8:32
    
@msh210 Your link leads me back here. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Feb 26 '12 at 9:22
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@AvrohomYitzchok More specifically, it leads you to Hacham Gabriel's answer here. –  HodofHod Feb 26 '12 at 16:10

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