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One is not supposed to take 3 steps back at the end of Tefillah if there is someone davening behind them within 4 amos. (See here for more.)

What if the Shaliach Tzibbur is finished davening, and the congregation is ready to begin the repetition of the Amidah, but there is someone immediately behind the Shaliach Tzibbur who is still davening? Does he take three steps back anyways? Does the whole tzibbur have to wait? Something else?

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Chazon Ish (Dinin vehanhagos Mai'hachazon Ish 4:33) writes that he should take the steps to the side. If that is not possible, Rav Elyashiv paskens that he should start chazaras hashatz without stepping backwards.( source: Mishna Berurah (Dirshu edition) 102:Note 26 )

Aruch Hashulchan (102:13), however, writes that in a similar circumstance where the rabbi is waiting for the person behind him to finish davening and the congregation is waiting for him, the rabbi may take the three steps backward due to tircha detziburra. An identical argument would permit the shliach tzibbur to back up.

  • "An identical argument would permit the shliach tzibbur to back up": or perhaps only to start without taking steps, as R. Elyashiv said. – msh210 Dec 21 '15 at 20:14
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    @msh210 if Aruch Hashulchan agreed to R Elyashiv the rabbi would not be permitted to go back...he could motion to Chazon to start to avoid tirchah detziburah – Yoni Dec 22 '15 at 4:18
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The Sefer Ishei Yisroel perek 29:16 writes that the shaliach tzibur should go back to the side of the person in back of him,but if there are people to the side as well then he can start without taking three steps back.,because of tircha dzibutah.

If you want all the sources in footnote let me know.

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