At Boi Veshalom (in Lecha Dodi), we turn around to greet the Shabbos queen. Firstly, to which direction are we supposed to turn? Is it towards the door of the synagogue, always to the rear of the synagogue, or towards the west?

Second, I've noticed that many bow at the last words of the stanza. How should this bowing be performed (at which words and towards which sides?)?

  • Partial duplicate: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66491
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 19:12
  • This custom did not exist in most Spanish/African/Eastern lands, and is arguably a misapplication of the original kabbalistic practice. See Hakirah 27.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 2:47

4 Answers 4


Dayan Raskin analyzes this custom here. Please read the source for a lot more details than I'm going into here.

Why we turn for Boi Be'Shalom:

  • Pri Megadim (262:S"K3): This is instead of going out of the synagogue, as brought by the Magen Avraham

  • Mishna Berurah (262:S"K10): We turn to face the door as if we were receiving/welcoming a great person

  • Ta'amei Minhagim (p. 127): We do this to comfort the mourners, who sit in the west.

  • Arizal (Pri Eitz Chaim Chapter 8, Shaar Hakavanot Nagid U'Mitzvah): We go out to the field, then face west, since the sun sets there.

  • Arizal: Some understand the reason the Arizal says to face west is because, as the Talmud (Bava Batra 25B) and the Zohar (III:119B) tell us, G-d's presence is in the west.

Dayan Raskin points out that these opinions would disagree about which way to face in cases where the door wasn't in the back of the synagogue, or if the congregation is not praying facing east. He then points out the various Poskim who discuss this issue.

How we bow:

  • Siddur Ya'avitz (in the name of his father, the Chacham Tzvi): Bow first to your left (which is the right of the Shechina), then to your right, the bow in front of you (to the east) and say "Boi Chalah Shabbat Malkata" quietly.

  • Sha'ar Hakavanot (Arizal): First bow to your right, then your left, and the third "Boi Callah bow to the middle. He does not explain if he means middle facing east or middle facing west.

The Chabad Custom is as follows (taken from Sefer Haminhagim, The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs) (emphasis mine):

When turning around to face west (Pri Megadim I:1, 262; Shaar HaKollel 17:7, citing Shaar HaKavanos.) while reading the paragraph beginning boi beshalom (p. 132), one begins the circuit by turning to one's left (Siddur Yaavetz; see also Shaar HaKollel), and completes it after having said bo'i chalah the second time.

It is our custom to bow to the right while saying bo'i chalah the first time, to the left while saying it the second time, and forward, having now returned to face east, while saying it the third time. (This was the custom of the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz. )

The third time, bo'I chalah is said in an undertone, and it is our custom to read the next two words likewise. (See note 35 and 36 here)


Most shuls face East and we turn to the West which is often the rear of the Shul.

We bow by the words Boi Kalla, Boi Kalla - first time to the right second time to the left.


We turn west because that is the direction of the setting of the sun, thus by this setting bringing forth the shabbot, as we say for our bride to come that is the shabbat to come by the sun setting and completion of the sixth day ushering in the shabbat.


We bow diagonally forward and to the left at the first "boi chala", diagonally forward and to the right at the second "boi chala", then turn around to face forward again and bow straight ahead at "boi chala shabas malk'sa". No source.

  • I'm pretty sure you never do anything on the 'left' side first. Unless you are purposefully trying to go against kaballah.
    – avi
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 20:01
  • Or if you're left handed and were told by a Rav to do so. (I'm left handed and do everything backwards)
    – Zvi
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 20:14
  • 2
    @avi: that's not an absolute rule, though. At the end of Shemoneh Esrei you're supposed to bow to your left first, which is the right side of the Shechinah that's facing you (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 97:2). So conceivably the same could be true here.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 21:07
  • @avi, I can only tell you what I do, which (IIRC) I learned from my father and, presumably, he from his, etc.
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 21:08
  • @avi: check out as well Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 123:1 and the Mishnah Berurah there (S"K 4): hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14170&pgnum=291 . He says the same thing as Alex said.
    – Menachem
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 0:14

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