From the Rav’s desk: 1) May one touch his socks in middle of Davening? 2) Speaking before taking three steps back in Shemoneh Esrei

  1. Question: [Tuesday, 21st Sivan, 5781]

If I have an itch on my foot during Davening, am I allowed to itch myself through my sock [i.e. On top of my sock] or would this make me be required to wash my hands afterwards?



Yes, it is permitted for you to touch your socks during Davening and you do not have to wash your hands afterwards, so long as you’re careful not to touch your shoes in the process. Nonetheless, some are stringent to wash their hands anyways especially if you’re socks are tangibly soaked with sweat that will then get on your hands.

Sources: See Ashel Avraham Butchach Hilchos Hanhagas Adam Baboker that touching sweat is only a problem than touching the actual skin however when touching a garment then it is only an act of piety to wash hands if sweat gets on them; Aruch Hashulchan 4:21 “one who removes his socks does not need to wash his hands as it has the same status as the rest of one’s garments”; Kaf Hachaim 4:72 brings opinions who state that one should wash his hands but concludes that even in their opinion it is merely an act of piety to be stringent to wash his hands after touching his socks as from the letter of the law washing is not required; Sheivet Halevy 8:2


  1. Question: [Tuesday, 21st Sivan, 5781]

Sometimes it happens in Shul that I cannot yet take three steps back after I am done praying Shemoneh Esrei being that someone in back of me is still in middle of praying Shemoneh Esrei. My question is regarding what am I allowed to answer once I am done Davening prior to taking three steps back. Can I answer Amen and say Baruch Hu Uvarcuh Shemo to Chazaras Hashatz? Also, may I continue with the saying of Tachanun, Ashrei Uva Letziyon, etc, prior to being able to three steps back?



If you have already recited the second Yehi Leratzon [at the end of Elokaiy Netzor, prior to taking three steps back] then you may answer Amen and say Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo when you hear God’s name in a blessing, and may certainly recite the entire Nussach of Kedusha. If necessary, you may even continue Davening with the congregation with the saying of Tachanun, Ashrei and Uva Letziyon etc. However, you should not talk mundane speech until you take three steps back.

Explanation: Once one has recited the second Yehi Leratzon he has in essence finished Shemoneh Esrei and therefore the restrictions against making an interval during Davening don’t apply. Nonetheless, since it is still considered as one is standing before the King until he takes three steps back, therefore it is proper not to speak mundane speech until then.

Sources: See Admur 122:1 that it is still considered that one is before the king; The following Poskim write that one may answer even Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo: Mamar Mordechai 122:2; Chesed Lealafim 122:25; M”B 122:4 in name of Mamar Mordechai; Kaf Hachaim 122:2; The following opinions rule that one may even continue Davening: Salmas Chaim 124; Or Letziyon 2 7:35; Halichos Shlomo 8:31 in name of Rav SZ”A; Yechaveh Daas 5:10; Az Nidbaru 8:41; The following opinions rule that one may even learn Torah and say Tehillim: Keser Rosh 33 in name of Rav Chaim Volozhin; Orchos Rabbeinu 3:209 in name of Chazon Ish; Az Nidbaru 3:46; However Rav SZ”A is stringent; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 122:1


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