The Shulchan Arukh describes the measurement of the three steps back taken after amidah in OC 122:3 (translation my own):

וְשִׁעוּר פְּסִיעוֹת אֵלּוּ, לְכָל הַפָּחוֹת, הוּא כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתֵּן גּוּדָל בְּצַד עָקֵב

And the size for each of these steps is at least enough so that the big toe is placed alongside the heel.

I have noticed that in the vast majority of shuls there is not sufficient space in the pews to take three steps back with the measurements described. What should one do if he finds himself in such a pew? I can think of three possible options but do not have sources to support option 2 or 3.

  1. Step out to a space where there is sufficient room
  2. Take steps directly back with smaller measurements
  3. Take steps on a diagonal so that the measurements are correct
  • What about step back and up onto the chair/pew?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 15:59
  • Lichora Svara pshuta: not walking through walls and people. I often seen people that push others in way to make beautyful 3 steps. I do not say what I think about this behavior.
    – kouty
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


I heard that Rav Chaim Kanievsky holds that one should take the steps sideways or on a diagonal. I personally saw the Chazan in his shul take three steps back on a diagonal that was nearly sideways.

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