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Anonymous Kneeling

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Kneeling

Dear Rabbi,

I need a reference in Talmud. Is there a place where it says that one may kneel if one has a paper between the knee and the floor?

The issue of kneeling has become a source of conflict for some of us in the 12 Step Programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous etc.). Kneeling is not required for any reason in the 12-Step Program, but it's sort of a tradition to kneel during the 3rd step which says "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand Him..."

Any other thoughts you have in regard to this question of kneeling would be welcome. Thank you soooooooooooo much for this service.


Dear Sarah Leah,

The Torah forbids prostrating yourself flat out on a stone floor, as was the way of the ancient idol worshippers. Our Sages extended this prohibition to include kneeling.

The Shulchan Aruch says that if you put an intervening substance between your knees and the stone floor, then it's permitted to kneel.

On Yom Kippur, we get on our knees and bow down with our faces to the floor. Many synagogues, especially in Israel, have stone or tile floors, so people bring towels to bow down upon. I was once in a synagogue where they passed out used computer paper to kneel on!

Sources:

  • Leviticus 26:1
  • Maimonides 6:6-8
  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:8