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Leviticus 19:32 מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם, וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man The Talmud (Kiddushin 32b) understands this to refer (in addition to the elderly) to any Torah scholar, and so it is codified in Shulchan Arukh (YD 244:1) that one must stand to honor a Torah scholar who ...


The Rosh and Chizkuni (in his second explanation) and Daas Z'kenim answer that the maidservants' sons didn't bow, as they thought that they, as freemen, were more important than their mothers. That's why it says "bowed" in the feminine: only women bowed. [Presumably "and their children" in the verse refers to approaching.] Chizkuni's first explanation is ...


Even if you didn't bow on purpose, you still fulfilled your obligation (Rambam Tefillah 5:1).


FWIW, there are some cases, e.g., in מודים, where even if one is not saying it one must bow along with everyone else, so as not to appear to disagree with what is being said (נראה ככופר). Source is in משנה ברורה and ערוך השלחן, both in אורח חיים, סימן ק״ט: ערוך השלחן: ...שצריך לשחות עם הציבור ב"מודים", שלא יהא נראה ככופר למי שהציבור משתחוים לו ...


Prostration was common throughout the Biblical period and remained daily practice for many Jews into the medieval period, especially in Muslim countries. Maimonides in Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Tefila 5:13-14 discusses prostration in the context of the post-Amidah suplications/tachanun. He seems to be writing descriptively (this is what Jews do) rather than ...


In the shuls that I have gone to on Rosh Hashana (Ashkenaz US) it appears that people bow in the same way as they do during the aleinu at the end of services. This is from what I was taught many years ago and observation in shul.

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