For prayers where you are only listening, or responding "Amen" (for example, for Kaddish, or the chazzan's repetition of the Amidah) should you do the traditional bows and steps backward for that prayer? Or are those only for the people who are actually reciting?

(I am referring, for example, to the bows indicated by small circles in the siddur during Kaddish; to the three-part bow during "Oseh shalom bimromov"; and to the 3 steps back/forward before and after "Oseh shalom bimromov" in both the Amidah and Kaddish.)

I ask this question because I frequently see non-reciters bowing throughout kaddish (at the same points as the chazzan/reciters do).

Bonus question: Should we strike our chest again during the chazzan's repetition of the Amidah?

  • Never heard or seen such a thing.
    – user613
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 13:34
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    In some places, specifically in עלינו and מודים, even if one is not saying it (e.g., if one is still reciting שמונה עשרה), one must bow along with everyone else, so as not to appear to disagree with what is being said (נראה ככופר). Source is שלחן ערוך and משנה ברורה, unfortunately I don't remember the סימנים off hand. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 2:52
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    @SZH So that is not considered interrupting your Amidah? What if, practically speaking, it does interrupt your kavanah and concentration? Do you still have to do it?
    – SAH
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 3:05
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    @SAH good thing you asked, I was quite unclear. I was referring to the Halacha that a person who comes late, should in some cases try to time his Amidah so as to be at a point where he will bow at the same time as the chazan reaches Modim Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 3:23
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    The second case I was referring to is, if someone isn't saying Alenu for some reason, he should still bow, although I don't remember the exact case, since normally one is supposed to say Alenu along with everyone else. I did not mean that one should bow in the middle of שמונה עשרה, if he's not up to a bowing point anyway. Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 3:27

1 Answer 1


FWIW, there are some cases, e.g., in מודים, where even if one is not saying it one must bow along with everyone else, so as not to appear to disagree with what is being said (נראה ככופר). Source is in משנה ברורה and ערוך השלחן, both in אורח חיים, סימן ק״ט:

ערוך השלחן: ...שצריך לשחות עם הציבור ב"מודים", שלא יהא נראה ככופר למי שהציבור משתחוים לו

...that one must bow with the congregation at "Modim" so he will not appear like one who doesn't believe in the One who the congregation is bowing to

But AFAIK the general custom is that in most other cases only the one actually reciting the tefillah bows, etc.

It also may depend on what type of obligation חזרת הש״ץ is. Some hold that it's really an obligation on each person in the congregation, and they will stand with their feet together the entire time, as if they are reciting it themselves. In that case, I wouldn't be surprised if they also would say to bow, etc. along with the chazan.

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