Someone told me that I should not move my hands during the Amidah. I found this article in the Jerusalem Post which says:

Indeed, an eerie silence hovers over the issue of outstretched arms during prayer in much of the post-talmudic literature. One notable exception is Rabbi Abraham, son of Maimonides (13th century, Cairo). Advocating a return to original prayer styles, Rabbi Abraham promotes raising the hands when petitioning God.


This approach is echoed in later authorities (Rabbi Eliezer Azkari, 16th century, Safed; and others), but does not seem to be the accepted practice. Some halachists suggest that prayer with outstretched arms is the manner of gentile prayer, and therefore should be avoided (Be'er Sheva, 16th-17th centuries, Poland-Italy; and others).


Modern scholars have demonstrated that a serious issue is at stake here: Christians saw Moses's outstretched arms in the fight against Amalek as a prefiguration of crucifixion.

Codifiers rule that the hands should be clasped over the heart, as a servant stands before a master with awe and respect (B. Shabbat 10a; Maimonides; Shulhan Aruch).

Is it permitted to make hand gestures in the Amidah? Does it matter (a) whether they are with one hand or two (b) whether the hands are raised above the heart or not and (c) in which blessings the hands are moved?

  • 1
    My Rabbi (a very big Talmid Hacham) always uses hand gestures in prayer. Oct 20, 2013 at 0:44
  • Rabbeinu Avrohom ban harambam Is talking bout ta7anun which is not 3amidho. And it is found in tanach and in gamoro in many places. Oct 20, 2013 at 0:59
  • 1
    There are mentions of lifting hands in prayer in Tanach, especially the psalms. How is it the manner of gentile prayer if there's this precedent?
    – Annelise
    Oct 20, 2013 at 1:35
  • @HachamGabriel Can you please answer for your Rabbi (a) how many hands, (b) above the heart or below (c) in which blessings? Oct 20, 2013 at 13:05
  • @MoriDoweedhYa3gob Do you have the reference please? Oct 20, 2013 at 13:06

1 Answer 1


The Sefer להגיד בבקר חסדך (Ashkenazi version אלול תשע"ב) p 77 references Rabbi Akiva Eger in O Ch 89 (1). He says

the reason that we do not daven the Amidah with פרישת כפים (outstretched hands?) as we find many times in the Zohar and Pirkei de Rebbi Eliezer is because now the nations do that and it comes under the prohibition of 'לא תקים לך מצבה אשר שונא וכ. In the times of the Patriarchs it was beloved and now it is hated.

Piskei Teshuvos 95 (4) says

When we find someone raising his hands out of the excitement of his heart like someone asking for something with all his heart, this is not a fault. It is rather a good sign that his prayer will be accepted. But one should not start out to pray with the intention of raising his hands in prayer as was the custom in earlier times (37). Because a person raising his hands must have intention for ענינם נפלאים וסודות עמוקים and if he is not up to that and does it for show, the Zohar says he will not do well. Therefore the practice has been lost except for exceptional people and exceptional times; not everyone can aspire to this.

Note 37 quotes Rabbi Avrohom ben haRambam that especially in the first and last three blessings of the Amidah, one hands should not be spread out but it is permissible in the intermediate blessings.

It seems that hand gestures are not such a good idea - but how are we expected to speak, even to HKB"H, without using our hands?

  • your answer is nice if you hold like r eiger, although r eiger contradicts Rabbeinu Avrohom ban harambam in the same exact Sefar where he says that a custom which the navee'eem had should not be changed even though the joyeem took them for their own. Nov 26, 2013 at 17:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .