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I have seen many people bow slightly when striking their chests in recitation of the sixth b'racha of sh'moneh esrei. Is this a custom? Is there a source for it?

Anyone whom I've witnessed doing this has only given me anecdotal information as the source of the practice.

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There are definitely sources for doing so during vidui, but I can't think of any for סלח לנו. – jake May 11 '11 at 15:09
Do you know that they do it intentionally? After seeing this question I paid attention to what I did this morning and found that I naturally bowed slightly while striking the chest. It wasn't an intentional act but it felt natural. So is the bow first-order choreography, or a side-effect? – Monica Cellio May 12 '11 at 13:13
@Monica Cellio - Well, only in the cases when I've asked them afterward. I am assuming based on those people intentionality in the others. – WAF May 12 '11 at 23:36
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Piskei T'shuvos (115:2), citing Maharil, writes that whist striking the chest during s'lach lanu, one should bow his head slightly forward.

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It's an old minhag. I believe that the Mishna Berura mentions it.

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Welcome to Judaism.SE! Your answer could be improved if you could dig up and add the relevant M"B citation and quotation. – Isaac Moses May 11 '11 at 18:13

I don't have the source for this, but I remember learning about vidui that it is a form of bowing your head in "shame", for the evil deeds.
I assume, as @jake said in a comment, that this is similar for סלח לנו.

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I was assuming the same and ascribing that logic to the people I've seen doing it. I just have never seen or heard it mentioned as an actual minhag. – WAF May 11 '11 at 21:03

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