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This is not about passing in front of someone Davening.

I have heard that one should avoid walking in front of people who have finished the Amidah and have taken three steps back, but have not yet taken three steps back forwards again (for Kedushah or otherwise, see 3 steps forward after Shmona Esrei of Maariv).

Is there any source for this (Minhag or Halacha), or is there a source that directly disputes this practice?

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According to the Mishno Bruro, this practice would likely be the result of an extralegal opinion that holds one takes six steps at the end of the Amido. (See קכ"ג סק"ח)

The Shulchon Oruch goes with the opinion that at the end of the Amido you take three steps back and you're done. That is, l'Halocho you do not need to take three steps forward. (See id.)

There is an opinion, not מעיקר הדין, that says no, part of the Amido is to take another three steps forward after you take three steps back. This is standard practice in many places though not necessarily as a matter of principle. According to this opinion, walking in front of someone who has not yet taken three steps forward is forbidden just like walking in front of someone who is in middle of the Amido, because this person who has not yet taken three steps forward still is in middle of the Amido. This is what the practice of not passing in front of someone who has not yet taken three steps forward is likely based on. (See id.)

All this is just an inference from something the Mishno Bruro says, because the Mishno Bruro is not actually talking about a practice to refrain from passing in front of people at that point in the Amido, but rather a practice of people standing in their place at that point in the Amido preventing others from passing in front of them. The Mishno Bruro understands their protest as based on this explanation. The Mishno Bruro does not specifically discuss whether refraining on one's own is a worthy practice, and one might argue that this is because he assumes the עיקר הדין governs in this context. One thing is for sure though, if a person is not protesting it is certainly not forbidden to pass in front according to the letter of the Halocho.

  • Thanks for pointing out the Mishna Berura (123:8, for those who are looking for the exact source). However, I don't see the part where he says that it is like that person is still in middle of Shemoneh Esrei. He says that these people don't want you to break up their "6 steps", but according to SA 122 (implied) they have already finished Shemoneh Esrei before they start Yihyu LEratzon/Oseh Shalom. – רבות מחשבות Dec 24 '17 at 23:59
  • I can make a very strong case that even these people would agree that they have finished Shemoneh Esrei, as there is no Kavana issue of walking in front of them, and there is no Shechina issue of walking in front of them, as he has taken 3 steps back already, meaning he has left. If so, the Mishna Berura wouldn't need to say that they are doing something wrong by hurrying to step forward right away, he should just say that they are wrong for thinking that there is such an issue. – רבות מחשבות Dec 25 '17 at 0:06
  • I hear what you are saying -- this is how I understood it though because how are you "breaking up" their steps by walking in front of them? – Dov F Dec 25 '17 at 0:34
  • found a reason - Aruch Hashulchan 123:4 - יש נוהגים להקפיד שבפסעו הפסיעות לא יעבור אדם בינו לבין מקום שהתפלל וטעם הדבר מפני שי"א דצריך ששה פסיעות משום דפסיעה לא מקרי רק כשעוקר שני רגליו וכן נהגו חכמי צרפת ויש להם סמך מדכתיב בתחלת יחזקאל [א, ז] בחיות שבמרכבה ורגליהם רגל ישרה רגליהם תרי רגל חד הוי ג' ואח"כ כתיב וכף רגליהם ככף רגל וגו' הוי ג"כ תלת ולכן חושבים הג' פסיעות שחוזר למקומו בעת הקדושה לצירוף הג' ראשונות ולפ"ז אין להיות הפסק ביניהם – רבות מחשבות Dec 25 '17 at 1:24
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    It seems even the strict opinion holds that it is merely inappropriate, not forbidden, to walk in front of someone before they take three steps forward (after all, the Shemoneh Esrei is over and it's just a matter of interrupting the requisite steps after the Shemoneh Esrei). The source of the MB's ruling, the Lechem Chamudos (B'rachos, Ein 'Omdin §68), uses the expression "עשה שלא כהוגן" (rather than an expression of איסור) to describe the person walking by. – Fred Dec 25 '17 at 1:35

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