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In Mussaf on Yom Kippur, there is a practice of prostration at various points. The Ramo writes in O"C 621:4

הגה ונוהגין ליפול על פניהם כשאומרים והכהנים והעם וגם בעלינו לשבח

But, he goes on to explain, אבל ש"צ אסור לעקור ממקומו בשעת התפלה כדי לפול על פניו ויש למחות ביד העושים כן so according to his view, the Chazzan may not move in order to effect the bowing (so he starts away from the lectern, or it is moved from him).

The Mishna Berurah seemingly argues on this in 104:10 saying that walking for a need is not a hefsek, only moving without a pressing need is "halicha" which constitutes a problem (אבל שלא לצורך מקרי הליכה). However, on 621:4 the Mishna Berurah writes (about a Chazzan who moves) "ויש למחות - דהרי שנינו אפילו נחש כרוך על עקבו לא יפסיק:", referencing the mechaber in 104 even though the mechaber actually says ("ואפי' נחש כרוך על עקבו לא יפסיק אבל יכול לילך למקום אחר כדי שיפול הנחש מרגלו)".

He then reverses his course in the next entry as he describes the prevalent practice,

אבל כבר פשט המנהג שגם הש"ץ עושה כן ונראה שהם סומכין דהליכה לא מקרי הפסק

But wouldn't moving in order to do a proper bowing be l'tzorech? Is it less a tzorech than going across a room to check a halacha or to get away from talking people, which is allowed? Why would the M"B consider it a hefsek in the first place (this is, ignoring that in one place he SAYS that halicha isn't a hefsek, and then he elsewhere says that it is)?

I have seen a Chazzan "jump" away from the lectern as if hopping is less halicha (is it?) but if the proper bowing is an important part of the davening, why would walking a pace or two be a problem?

  • What I have seen (in at least two different places) is that a couple people stand next to the chazzan and move the shtender away and help him bow as needed. – Salmononius2 Sep 20 '18 at 14:48
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    Another case of walking is a Kohein Shatz to get up to the Duchan – Double AA Sep 20 '18 at 14:49
  • related to that case is judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/6939/… – rosends Sep 20 '18 at 14:51
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See this article that lists numerous situations where one may walk in the middle of Amidah. The article begins with a general statement that "Walking is not considered a significant interruption." Some examples where walking is permitted:

if a non-poisonous snake approaches him, creating a situation which disturbs his concentration, although the circumstances are not life-threatening, he is permitted to walk to a different place to continue praying with kavanah (Mishnah Berurah 104:10). A similar case is one in which a person is reciting the Amidah and there are adults or children talking around him, disturbing his concentration. If by hinting to them they will be quiet, that is the best course of action, for a hint is considered to be less of an interruption. However, if they don’t comply, he may walk to a different place and continue praying there.

Using kal vachomer logic - walking for the sake of getting away from the lectern so that the shat"z can properly perform part of the service is no worse than any of the above.

Having said this, I don't know why few chazzanim do this and the majority do a hop and they need two assistants to help him up. Perhaps they want to be machmir, or they don't know the leniency?

I think the best option is to have a movable lectern - either a small portable wooden one or one on wheels. (The nursing home I sometimes daven at has wheeling lecterns for both the shulchan and amud. Obvious reasons - this allows people in wheelchairs the opportunity to daven and get aliyot.)

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