Mishna Berura Summaries

Siman 102 – Not to disturb a daavener

  • It is forbidden to sit or even lean heavily within a 4-amah radius of someone who is in Shemoneh Esray (he has not yet taken his 3 steps back). lt is a disgrace to his makom tefilla unless you, too, are involved in daavening. (ShA 1 – MB 1,2,3,14)
  • If you are learning Torah, you can be maykil to sit behind him even within his 4 amos. If it is pressing, you can even sit beside him and learn. The learning must be verbal so that people will not suspect you of disagreeing with the daavener’s attitude of subjugation to Hashem. (ShA 1 – MB 6,7)
  • You should not sit directly in front of a daavener at any distance within his view. This applies even if you are saying Krias Shema. (ShA 1)
  • If it is evident that it is physically difficult for you to stand, you may sit within 4 amos of the daavener (but not directly in front). If it is easy to distance yourself, do so nonetheless. (ShA 2 – MB 10,11)
  • You may stand anywhere near a daavener with the possible exception of within 4 amos directly in front of him. (MB 8,9)
  • If you want to daaven Shemoneh Esray, make sure to keep your distance (4 amos) from someone who is sitting. (MB 12)
  • If someone comes and daavens Shemoneh Esray next to where you are sitting in shul, stand up. Even if it is your makom kavua, there is a middas chassidus to rise unless you are learning Torah. (ShA 3 – MB 13)
  • It is forbidden to step on the 4 amos directly in front of someone saying Shemoneh Esray, Krias Shema or Kaddish. (ShA 4, BeH “ossur”, ShaT 56:1)
  • Regarding the 4 amos to the sides of a daavener – you may step there and stop. Even to the sides that are in front of him you can step on when necessary. (ShA 4 – MB 18) 
  • Be careful when taking your 3 steps back after tefilla, not to step into the 4 amos of the person daavening behind you. (ShA 5)