During the Shemone Esre, we bend our knees and then bow. I have observed two ways of doing this. One is to bend the knees, then to straighten the knees, and then to bow at the waist. The other is to keep the knees bent while bowing, and straighten them while coming out of the bow. Is one of these methods more correct than the other? Is there a source for the exact manner in which to bow?

  • 1
    Avraham ben Harambam says that you put your knees to the floor... :)
    – avi
    Nov 3, 2011 at 13:30
  • @avi Do you have any mekor that anyone did this ever preRambam?
    – Double AA
    Dec 22, 2011 at 4:25
  • @DoubleAA it's really the pshat of the gemora if you think about it.
    – avi
    Dec 22, 2011 at 9:31
  • @avi Not necasarily. The gemara in brachot 34a uses a lashon of shocheh: בבלי ברכות לד. תנו רבנן: אלו ברכות שאדם שוחה בהן: באבות תחלה וסוף, בהודאה תחלה וסוף, Now in other places it talks about koreia; but it could very well be that there were different girsaot or that the rambam put different gemaras together. Until I have a non-rambam influenced source saying it ever happened, I'm not convinced.
    – Double AA
    Dec 22, 2011 at 14:35
  • @DoubleAA What meaning are you giving "Shocheh" that you think it argues against that reading?
    – avi
    Dec 22, 2011 at 15:31

3 Answers 3


Yes there is a source. It is MB simon 113 sk 12. Almost the same text is used in Kitzur Shulchan Oruch 18(11). The translation says, "When a person recites Boruch, he should bend the knee, and when he says Attoh, he should bow to the extent that the vertebrae of the spine protrude. He should also bend his head. Before he recites G-d's name, he should return to an erect position slowly. (This is alluded to by {Psalms 146:8}: "G-d lifts up the bowed.") That seems to be the second of your possibilities.

For Modim see MB 113 sk 12. Artscroll says what the MB writes.

  • I haven't checked the original, but your translation, at least, sounds like it could mean either of the possibilities mentioned in the question (though the bowing, in either case, should be not just at the waist). (Perhaps that's why some do one and some the other!) +1.
    – msh210
    Oct 30, 2011 at 18:14
  • 1
    The question then would be how to return to an erect position - unbending the knees and straightening the back simultaneously, or first the back and then the knees, or first the knees and then the back?
    – yoel
    Oct 30, 2011 at 18:24
  • The source does not say that after bending the knee, he should unbend it, but that he should bow. That's why I think the second of Yoel's possbilities is the valid one. Oct 30, 2011 at 20:59
  • "bend the knees" can also mean a lot of things. Down to the floor, squat, kneel with one knee.
    – avi
    Oct 31, 2011 at 12:18
  • Does one always bend the same way? Is the bow for the beginning of modim the same as for the other 3 bows in the amidah? The Artscroll siddur says to bend the knees for the other 3, but only to bow for Modim.
    – Curiouser
    Nov 2, 2011 at 0:37

As a young man I was taught by my rabbi, though I don't remember the source, that when one comes out of the bow one should lift one's head first (simultaneously while saying HaShem's name), so that it looks like one is looking up towards heaven, rather than looking like one is lifting something heavy on one's back (as it was explained to me, when one carries a heavy load on one's back one generally keeps one's head pointed downward).

The method demonstrated to me was bending the knees at Baruch, keeping them bent as one begins to bow at the waist (although they tend to unbend somewhat in that process) for Attah, and then lifting the head first while saying HaShem, followed by straightening the rest of the body.

This was taught to me by Rabbi Shaiall Zachariash of Shomrey Emunah in Southfield, MI. He demonstrated it to me one-on-one, not in a classroom. I can try to find his source, but I've just chalked it up to Mesorah, as in he was taught by his Rebbi, who was taught by his Rebbi, etc. There may be a written source for it somewhere, but it was so specific that it was not likely learned from a Sefer and adopted, but taught the way he taught me.


Ben Ish Hai Shana Alef Parashat Beshalah 6-

צריך לעשות שתי כריעות ושתי זקיפות בשעת שמשתחוה בעמידה, כיצד כשאומר ברוך יכרע בתיבת ברוך כריעת הגוף בלבד, ובתיבת אתה יכרע את ראשו ג"כ, הרי שתי כריעות, וכשאומר ה' יקיף שם שתי זקיפות, ותחלה יזקוף גופו בלבד, ואח"כ יזקוף ראשו ג"כ

Loosely translated: It is necessary to make two bows and two bends when bowing in amida. How? In "Baruch" bend the entire upper body, and in "Ata" bow the head additionally- that is two bows (so far). Then after, bend back the entire body to be straight and after that also the head should be bent back up (lifted).

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