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There's a widespread custom for the Chazzan to bow, facing the ark, when reciting "Gadlu" with the Torah before carrying it away. The Aruch Hashulach (282:1) says that one should do this, but doesn't provide a reason for it, nor am I aware of any earlier source for this.

Does anyone know where this custom is discussed, sourced, or explained?

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thanks for putting up a bounty! (if that's an inappropriate comment feel free to delete it, sorry) –  Matt May 5 at 6:24
    
you're welcome. I went through many sources looking for a source and was very surprised not to find ANYTHING! I certainly hope someone answers –  Jewels May 5 at 13:08
    
I think you are all mistaken! To me the aruch hashulchan should read wait and not bow. A pure print mistake. –  preferred May 6 at 8:04
    
@preferred so you think the source of this extremely widespread custom is a printer's mistake? Hm... the Aruch Hashulchan's son would approve... how ironic –  Matt May 6 at 13:25
    
@Matt Yes I do. A hey and ches look almost the same. I dont think the word 'bow' is usually written this way. –  preferred May 6 at 13:31

2 Answers 2

I found explanations in Rite and Reason: 1050 Jewish Customs and Their Sources By Shemuʼel Pinḥas Gelbard (p. 129). I am summarizing:

The 1st answer mentions that the Torah should be raised slightly at the name of Hashem (God) in each of the 3 verses, Shema, Echad Elokeinu and Gadlu. This is because we want to elevate God's name. (My opinion - this answer only seems to explain why we do this for "Gadlu" as the word Gadlu means "make big" or "elevate". I haven't seen the raising done for the other 2 verses.)

The 2nd answer explains why the cantor faces the congregation for Shema and Echad Elokeinu but faces the ark for Gadlu. Two reasons are mentioned. The reason I think is stronger states that in "Gadlu" the cantor includes the word "iti" - "with me", so he faces the ark to symbolize that he includes himself.

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How does this answer why the chazzan bows? –  Gershon Gold Apr 28 at 16:50
    
@GershonGold, he is saying that when you bow down at Gadlu, you raise up at Hashem - and the point is to raise up at Hashem. –  Yishai Apr 28 at 17:54
    
I surmise, also, that the service is somewhat similar to King Solomon, from whom we derive many of our current laws and practices of prayer. When he approached the ark, King Solomon bowed. –  DanF Apr 28 at 19:41
    
I have seen these two customs (1. raising the Torah 2. facing the cong. for the first two verses and the ark for the third) brought down in other places, with these reasons (and others) but they are different from the custom to bow at 'gadlu' - they may have something to do with each other, as you suggest, but I know of no source that connects them –  Matt Apr 30 at 5:11
    
@DanF See Avudraham (Dinei Kerias GaTorah p124) who brings one explanation for why we say these 6 words - they remind us of bringing the Aron back in Dovid's times. Every 6 paces, they offered up Korbanos. The 6 words of Gadlu correspond to these steps. –  Zvi May 5 at 21:42

See Avudraham (Dinei Kerias HaTorah p124) who brings one explanation for why we say these 6 words - they remind us of bringing the Aron back in Dovid's times. Every 6 paces, they offered up Korbanos. The 6 words of Gadlu correspond to these steps.

Perhaps, this explains why we lift the Torah, as if to say this is the Ark coming back up. We bow to show respect to it. Just a thought.. Interestingly, the ancient Ashkenaz Shuls had 6 steps leading up to the Aron Hakodesh. The Chazan would descend, saying one word on each step!

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