We are supposed to lean while drinking the 4 cups and eating the matza at the Seders, but I find it hard to do that while sitting in an armless dining room chair. Likewise, I have not been able to secure a pillow on such a chair. How do others deal with this little practical challenge? Any helpful tips would be appreciated. Note: there is another question Is there an ideal way to recline on Pesach? that asks what the ideal leaning posture is or might be. The current question just asks for practical approaches to leaning while seated around a dining room table.

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    Yehuda, could you please edit this question to clarify what posture you are trying to achieve to accomplish leaning and why this posture in particular is difficult in the chair you describe? Your question will be extra valuable if you include your basis for aiming for this posture, particularly, whether it's from a halachic source or from what you've seen over the years. – Isaac Moses Mar 16 '15 at 18:14
  • @YehudaW Are you asking for a sociological survey of how self identifying Jews think they are performing this mitzva? (that's what it sounds like from your most recent comment) – Double AA Mar 17 '15 at 2:55
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    @double-aa Leaning seems to be a mitzva that is hard to do in some seder seating arrangements and I was just wondering about the range of options for fulfilling it. From the answers, I have learned how some other people do that, and that has been helpful to me. Now, can you explain your concern with this question? It seems to have spawned considerable chat as well as a handful of comments just on the way it is worded. It seems I do not understand how you prefer, or require, questions be asked, or why. – Yehuda W Mar 17 '15 at 11:48
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    @YehudaW I've just cast the fifth reopen vote. I still think it would be helpful if you would edit to describe what posture you are trying to achieve. Do you think sitting mostly upright and tilting a bit to the side is leaning? Do you think it calls for leaning on something (and that's why you mentioned a pillow)? Etc? The more we know where you're coming from the better we can do with answers. – Monica Cellio Mar 18 '15 at 2:28

I've turned the chair sideways (i.e., the chair back is perpendicular to the table), draped a pillow over the back and leaned my hand over the pillow and the back. Don't use a high-back chair for this. A short chair or folding chair will work fine for this purpose. Another easy solution is just lean your elbow on the table.

I have seen a number of ravs I have been with do just this.

Another simple solution (perhaps) is just put an empty chair to the left of yours and pile some soft books and at least one pillow on top of the pile. I know - it does mean an extra seat at the table. Hey! My adage is that there's always room for one more "dummy" :-)

  • This answer doesn't seem to add anything over existing answers as far as I can tell. Am I missing something? – Y     e     z Mar 16 '15 at 2:20
  • @yEz the last paragraph. – msh210 Mar 16 '15 at 4:26
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    The others mention the person pivoting in his/her seat. This one recommends rotating the seat, so that one's legs can still be under the table rather than between one's own seat and the neighboring chair. – sq33G Mar 16 '15 at 8:10
  • @sq33G - Very astute! Makes for comfortable eating and seating! I'm editing my answer, further – DanF Mar 16 '15 at 14:32

The simplest thing that I have done in this situation is to pull over a folding chair, and set it perpendicular to the left of my chair. Then I use the back of that chair as my armrest. If you have space for it, this is probably your best option.

As a backup, I once turned to my right, so that the table was on my left, and then used the table to lean on.

Good luck!

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    Has any rabbi approved this practice? Citing as much would lend more value to your answer. Right now how are we supposed to trust that doing this fulfills the Mitzva to lean? – Double AA Mar 16 '15 at 1:49
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    @DoubleAA I could source it if I felt it was needed, but as far as I can tell, the question was for practical advice. If the OP would like to limit his question to any specific opinion of leaning, he could do so. – Y     e     z Mar 16 '15 at 2:17
  • Citing any support would lend more value to your answer. Right now someone could recommend lifting one foot off the ground as an practical recommendation (and hence no answer is particularly valuable without support). – Double AA Mar 16 '15 at 2:26
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    @DoubleAA Except that it would have no connection to leaning. Let's not be unreasonable - the question asked about leaning, and my answer explains a process of leaning. Lifting a foot is by no definition leaning. And besides, all I said was "lean on X" so he can keep whatever motion he calls leaning and just do it on X. – Y     e     z Mar 16 '15 at 2:35
  • In this manner, you are just leaning your body (but not your head) on the chair, right? See MB 472:7, who requires resting your head on something. – Fred Mar 16 '15 at 3:05

At most seders I've been to, people are packed tightly-enough around the table that we end up kind of leaning into each other's spaces. Since we're all doing it, nobody is inconvenienced.

Sometimes, like @msh210, I've turned in my seat so that I can lean against the back of the chair.

  • It sounds like a modern-day lesson in cooperation among Jews; yet another lesson of Pesach. – Yehuda W Mar 16 '15 at 0:22
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    I'm not sure if this is what you meant in your first paragraph, but leaning leftwards may be insufficient without actually leaning on something (see here and here). – Fred Mar 16 '15 at 0:43
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    Has any rabbi approved this practice? Citing as much would lend more value to your answer. Right now how are we supposed to trust that doing this fulfills the Mitzva to lean? – Double AA Mar 16 '15 at 1:49
  • @Fred thank you for that information. DoubleAA, I answered the "what do people do?" question with what I have seen. I don't have a source beyond that, sorry, and I haven't asked a rabbi. – Monica Cellio Mar 16 '15 at 3:53
  • Your first paragraph seems to be okay according to this answer. – MTL Mar 27 '15 at 21:40

עוד כתבו הפוסקים דאם סומך עצמו על ברכי חבירו גם זה מיקרי הסיבה ע"פ הדחק

The halachic decisors have written further that one can lean on the lap of his friend, and this is also considered to be "leaning" in a difficult situation.

Mishna Berurah 472:8, free translation.

  • Provided you're sitting next to a good friend;) – Loewian Mar 16 '15 at 18:52
  • And provided there isn't a problem of 'shomer negia' – El Shteiger Mar 20 '15 at 3:36
  • All the more reason to get married and have your wife sit next to you! – DanF Mar 20 '15 at 17:16

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