I'm quite certain that it is mentioned in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that one should not turn one's back to the Aron HaKodesh (ark which holds the Torah Scrolls).

Can anyone tell me where this is mentioned, I can't seem to find it. Likewise where is it in the Shulchan Aruch/Mishneh Berurah?

There seems to be a certain laxity with this. Many times in big shuls the Aron is raised above the main sanctuary in such a way that it is halachicly considered a different room/reshus/area domain/whathaveyou..which would allow for leniency. Is there other basis to be lenient (when this is not the case such as a smaller Beis Midrash with an Aron) or are people just not as familiar with this idea because often times it isn't so applicable?


3 Answers 3


The Sephardi minhag during kabbalat shabbat is to face west during Mizmor L'David (psalm 29) and Lecha Dodi. Yalkut Yosef rules that one may turn their back to the Aron HaKodesh to follow this minhag.

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    Ashkenazim also do by lecha dodi. Oct 7, 2011 at 0:59
  • @tom: I didn't mention the Ashkenazim, because I wasn't sure whether their minhag was to face west, to face the back of the shul, or to face the door.
    – Chanoch
    Oct 9, 2011 at 2:09
  • @Chanoch - all of the above!
    – Seth J
    Jul 25, 2012 at 2:43

Basic Idea from VBM First he says your Point with Mareh Mekomoms Mishna Berura (10), as well as the Arukh Ha-Shulchan and others, rules that one should NOT turn one's back to the aron, even at the expense of praying away from Jerusalem. The Aruch Ha-Shulchan (94:5) writes that even those to the south of the Aron Koidesh facing east should not face somewhat south, as by doing so they would be turning their backs, even slightly, away from the aron.But I am guessing a weak defense of our current behavior would be the Peri Megadim,in Mishbetzot Zahav, disagrees, and says only those standing directly next to the aron itself should avoid turning their backs to the aron. But look of how People dont stand up when parents and older people walk into Shul it seems the Mitzvos of Yiraeh in General are on a downturn as it says Chutzpah Yazgeh

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    Also, consider that when one is giving a shiur or speaking from the pulpit it is very common to be standing with the back to the Aron. Many Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbanim do so, but it could be it is allowed for those instances because of K'vod HaTorah. But what about a shul president making announcements?
    – Yahu
    Apr 19, 2010 at 3:51
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    In think they should cancel the shul president. Apr 19, 2010 at 23:01
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    Can you rephrase the answer to be a little less critical of Am Yisrael? Can you include the simon of the Mishneh Berurah citation?
    – Yirmeyahu
    Apr 23, 2010 at 6:45
  • which VBM shiur is this?
    – Menachem
    Jul 25, 2012 at 3:55

There are a number of suggested answers why it is permitted to speak, provided that some (or all) of the following conditions are met:

the aron hakodesh is built in a way that the Sefer Torah is placed ten tefachim or higher above the ground;

it’s done b’derech ara’i (temporarily);

it’s done for k’vod hatzibbur (out of respect for the community); or

it’s done for the purpose of a mitzvah.

Nevertheless, there were many rabbonim who did not stand with their backs to the aron hakodesh when giving their drashos. Although they would have been permitted to do so, since they were speaking words of Torah, they chose not to out of respect for the Sefer Torah, or because they were concerned that their intentions may not have been purely l’shem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven). Some suggest that Bar Mitzvah boys should not stand with their backs to the aron hakodesh while delivering their speech, since their motivation is not l’shem Shamayim—to bring the crowd to teshuvah. However, since speaking publicly inspires the Bar Mitzvah boy himself to advance in Torah and mitzvos, the custom has become to allow him to stand with his back to the aron hakodesh while speaking, like the rav.

שו״ע יו״ד סרפ״ב ס״א [ובשיעור עשרה טפחים – כבר העירו משו״ת פאה״ד להרמב״ם סע״ח]. וראה בט״ז שם סק״א. ועיי״ש בערוה״ש ס״ב. וראה בדע״ק שם שמפקפק בעיקר ההיתר. וראה בבני יונה שם בנוגע להדורשים לכבוד עצמם. וכבר הקשו דלכאו׳ סותר הט״ז ד״ע, שכתב באו״ח סק״נ סק״ב שלא לישב אחוריו להיכל. ועיי״ש במ״ז שרק בדרך עראי הותר.

וראה שע״א ש״ג ס״ט ובפתחי שערים שם. ועיי״ש בשערי חיים. וראה שו״ת תשובה מאהבה ח״ב סרכ״ח (מש״כ בהנהגתו הוא). שם ח״ג סתכ״ז. ועיי״ע שו״ת יחו״ד ח״ג סי״ט. חלקת יעקב ח״ג סקל״ב.

[ובכ״ז ילה״ע גם מבמדב״ר ה, ח. ר״ח שער היראה פט״ו].

והעירוני מהמענה בתשורה לחתונת גראנער–פינסאן תשע״ד (ע״ד מסיבת צאתכם לשלום): ״משמע מהמצו״ב – שהסדר שהנואם אחוריו אל ההיכל כו׳. ומובן שכדאי לסלקו לצדדים״.

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