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I heard from a Rabbi that the G'mara brings that you can't bow more than 4 times in a day. But how could this be true if one bowes multiple times in the Amidah, and one says Amidah three times a day?

*Unfortunately I don't have the source of this. And my Rabbi wasn't completely sure about the Amidah dilemma.

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I am not in a place to be able to check sefarim or give sources, but I think that the discussion is concerning the Amidah and it is referring to 4 times "per Amidah."

The Kohen Gadol would bow at every bracha ending. Chazal told us that this was appropriate only for the Kohen Gadol and everyone else should limit bowing to the four times per Amidah prescribed by Chazal.

It is discussed in the Gemara and also in the ShA regarding some who had a custom to bow constantly during the Amidahs of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah and the Poskim point out that if one wants to follow that custom he should still stand in an erect position before reaching the bracha portion of each of the 18 (19) blessings of the Amidah, except those 4 places.

  • I bow more than four times in the Amidah [and I'm probably doing something wrong]. 1) At the beginning. 2) B.A.H'. Magen Abraham. 3) Modim anajnu la. 4) B.A.H'. amebarech et amo bashalom amen. 5) End of Ose Shalom. I would be really grateful if somebody tells me where I'm wrong. – Gabriel12 Jan 6 '16 at 21:25
  • @Gabe12 I don't think oseh shalom counts, but disclaimer I could be totally wrong here. – andrewmh20 Jan 6 '16 at 21:42
  • Andrew and Gabe See detailed halachot (as to where one should now) in my second answer, below. This probably should have been a second question. :-) – R Yisroel Meir Vogel Jan 6 '16 at 22:35
  • My LOR said that you should also bow by ואנחנו כורעים ומשתחוים during mussaf of Rosh Hashanah. – Ypnypn Jan 7 '16 at 16:56
  • Ypnypn We bow every day by "va'anachnu kor'im" in the Aleinu. See below, my second answer: The point is there are 4 places at the beginning or end of a blessing. "Va'anachnu kor'im" in mussar of RH is in the Middle of a blessing. That is not what the 4x refers to. – R Yisroel Meir Vogel Jan 7 '16 at 18:40
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There are four places where we bow at the beginning or end of a blessing. Every time in the day that we reach those four places, we bow. It can be 3 times personally (up to 5 times on YK) plus our response to the Chazan repeating one of those places.

The correct places to bend the knees and bow the head (and spine, unless one is elderly or weak) are as follows(Shulchan Aruch 113/1):

(1&2) the first blessing of the Amidah, the blessing of the "Avot" [forefathers], beginning and end: when saying the words "Baruch" [bend the knees] "Ata" [bend the head and spine] " then stand erect slowly as one says "haShem [and continue with "Elokeinu..."] and the same by the ending: "Baruch" [bend the knees] "Ata" [Bend the head and spine] then stand erect slowly as one says "haShem," and conclude "Magen Avraham."](Shulchan Aruch 113/6,7)

(3&4) the next to last blessing of the Amidah, the blessing of Hoda'ah [thanksgiving], beginning and end: bow the head and spine quickly "like a bulrush"(see Mishneh B'rurah 113/12) when saying the first five words, "Modim anachnu lach shaw-Ata hu..." And when saying the words "Baruch," bend the knees, when saying "Ata," bend the head and spine, then stand erect when saying "haShem" [and conclude the blessing with "haTov shimcha, u'lcha na'eh l'hodot."]

It is inappropriate to bend the knees at the beginning or at the end of any other blessing, including the last blessing, "haMevorech et Amo Yisrael ba'shalom."

However, we do bow as we walk back 3 steps, "like a bulrush," for oseh shalom. Then, we bow to the left, then to the right and then forward, but no knee bending. Rabbi Heinemann of Baltimore said (asked personally today) that there is no issue of bending the knees when one does this last k'ree'ah. It is the same as the k'ree'ah of Modim.

Finally, the Modim D'Rabbanan is said when we join the Chazan as he repeats the regular Modim. That counts as the 3rd place for which we bow. (The issue is not how many times rather how many Places we bow!) There are 3 different customs on how long to bow this time (see ShA 127/1 and Rema there) but the prevalent one in many circles is to follow the Vilna Gaon (Bi'ur HaGra, quoted in Bi'ur Halacha, 127 "hakol b'sh'chiyah" ) that we bow again "like a bulrush" for only the first 5 words and lift our head slowly as we say "haShem."

  • The bow before stepping back is also obligatory methinks. – Double AA Jan 6 '16 at 22:37
  • Here's a source for you that you can see online hebrewbooks.org/rambam.aspx?rid=583 – Double AA Jan 6 '16 at 22:44
  • The five bendings (accd'g to the Rambam, at least) are four at the blessings and one at the end, which is not a blessing. This to clarify the rabbi's statement of "only four." – R Yisroel Meir Vogel Jan 7 '16 at 0:26
  • people bow during Modim Derabanan as well. The Chazan bows during each of the 3 blessings of Birkat Cohanim. – DanF Jan 7 '16 at 1:36
  • DanF Modim D'Rabbanan is the 3rd place, repeated by the chazan and joined by the community. I would appreciate a source for Boeing at burkas Kohanim. I could find none. – R Yisroel Meir Vogel Jan 7 '16 at 15:39

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