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I seek logical explanations of the instruction on page 137 of the ArtScroll Siddur (Ashkenaz) concerning sitting for Shomer Yisrael. It states:

On all days, Tachanun continues with 'O Guardian of Israel.' [On Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday remain seated until after the three words 'We know not,' then stand until the conclusion of Tachanun.]

The instructions distinguish between weekdays when we read the Torah and other weekdays. Why does the siddur say we remain seated on Sun, Tues, Wed, and Fri? As I understand the ritual, we are sitting at this point on every weekday, and we stand for the last paragraph on all weekdays (when Tachanun is said).

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    On Monday and Thursday we say the long tachnun beforehand, while standing.
    – shmosel
    Jan 23 at 3:32
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    Which nusach is this?
    – Lo ani
    Jan 23 at 9:13
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    @Shababnik Please restate your comment. I do not understand what you wrote.
    – Yehuda W
    Jan 23 at 14:25
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    @Loani Nusach Ashkenaz. (I updated the question.)
    – Yehuda W
    Jan 23 at 14:26
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    Does it say to stand by "hashem elokai Yisrael" (after vayomer David on Monday and Thursday)?
    – Lo ani
    Jan 23 at 14:39

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The idea is that we are doing 3 different things during Tachanun, no matter what the day:

  • Standing
  • Sitting normally
  • Leaning your face on an arm ("falling on one's face", which replaces actual prostrating)

At Mincha on all days and at Shacharis on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, there is no clear place to stand. So we stand for the last section as indicated, and very logically with "we know not" - i.e., we don't know how to act so we are trying to do all 3 and at this point - when we have already done 2 out of 3 - we switch to the third mode, which is standing.

On the other hand, on Monday and Thursday morning we have already had a standing portion so there is no need to get up in the middle of what would otherwise logically be a contiguous sitting section, as we have already at that point included all three modes.

A longer discussion is in this Chabad article. In particular note the concluding paragraph:

After nefilat apayim, one should raise his head and briefly recite supplications while sitting. Afterward, it is the custom to recite the passage Va'anachnu lo neida, "We do not know what to do...," as if to say: We have prayed in every position in which a person could pray—sitting, standing and prostrated—just as was done by Moses, our teacher. We have done all that we know. Now, G‑d, "remember Your mercy and kindness . . . save us and atone for our sins for the sake of Your Name!"

While "prayed in every position" used broadly will take care of everyone on every day, used specifically for the parts of Tachanun requires, for regular Ashkenazi Nusach, adding a standing up part except on Monday/Thursday Shacharis.

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  • This makes sense, but I'm pretty sure I've seen people stand at the same point on Mondays and Thursdays. Habit? A reasonable variation?
    – Mike
    Mar 31 at 21:32
  • Habit for sure. Reasonable variation? Probably. But I know a lot of people are confused about this particular issue. Mar 31 at 21:37
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    When there are selichos or Avinu Malkeinu, we've also already stood by that point. Also for those who say viduy every day.
    – Heshy
    Mar 31 at 22:42
  • @Heshy avinu malkenu and selichos are not typical days. As far as vidui, that's why I referred to standard Ashkenazi nusach. Mar 31 at 22:45
  • Note that nussach Chabad doesn't make a point of sitting down except for nefilat apayim.
    – shmosel
    Apr 1 at 0:21

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