SECTION 102 One may Not Pass in Front of a Person who is Praying [nor Infringe upon his Space]. (1-5)

סימן קב שֶׁלֹּא לְהַפְסִיק כְּנֶגֶד הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל וּבוֹ ה' סְעִיפִים:

1 It is forbidden to sit within four cubits of a person who is reciting Shemoneh Esreh.1 Whether one is in front of him, behind him, or at his side, one must keep a distance of four cubits2 from him because the place where a person is praying is “sacred ground,”3 for the Divine Presence4 rests before him, as explained in sec. 97[:2]. One should treat that place with respect throughout the time that he is praying. A person’s place is considered as [a circle with a radius of] four cubits.5

If one does not desire to sit there idly, but to engage in Torah study or in [the recitation of] songs and praises [to G‑d], he is permitted to sit there. Since he is engaged in holy matters it is not disrespectful for him to sit in that place, provided he verbalizes the Torah words that he is studying. Thinking about [them] is not effective in this context, for one’s thoughts are not perceived [by an observer] and sitting [while seemingly idle] appears as an affront to this holy place.

א אָסוּר לֵישֵׁב בְּתוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁל הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל,א,1 בֵּין מִלְּפָנָיו, בֵּין מִלְּאַחֲרָיו, בֵּין מִן הַצְּדָדִיםב – צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק ד' אַמּוֹת,2 כִּי הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל עוֹמֵד עָלָיו אַדְמַת קֹדֶשׁ הוּא,ג,3 הוֹאִיל וּשְׁכִינָה4 כְּנֶגְדּוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן צ"ז,ד וְצָרִיךְ לִנְהֹג כָּבוֹד בְּמָקוֹם זֶה כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהוּא מִתְפַּלֵּל, וּמְקוֹמוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם הוּא ד' אַמּוֹת.ה,5

וְאִם אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לִהְיוֹת יוֹשֵׁב וּבָטֵל שָׁםו אֶלָּא עָסוּק בַּתּוֹרָהז אוֹ בְּשִׁירוֹת וְתִשְׁבָּחוֹתח – מֻתָּר לֵישֵׁב, שֶׁכְּשֶׁעוֹסֵק שָׁם בְּדִבְרֵי קְדֻשָּׁה – אֵין גְּנַאי בִּישִׁיבָתוֹ שָׁם. וְהוּא שֶׁמּוֹצִיא דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה בְּפִיו, אֲבָל הִרְהוּר בְּדִבְרֵי תּוֹרָהט – אֵינוֹ מוֹעִיל לָזֶה,י שֶׁהִרְהוּר אֵינוֹ נִרְאֶה וִישִׁיבָתוֹ נִרְאֵית גְּנַאי לְמָקוֹם קָדוֹשׁ:

2 There is an authority who maintains that if the person sitting next to the one reciting Shemoneh Esreh is weak, he is permitted to remain seated. His sitting does not appear offensive, since it is apparent that he is sitting because of his weakness. One may rely on this view if he cannot easily move four cubits away and sit there.

ב יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵריא שֶׁאִם הַיּוֹשֵׁב בְּצַד הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל הוּא חַלָּשׁ – מֻתָּר לוֹ לֵישֵׁב, שֶׁאֵין יְשִׁיבָתוֹ נִרְאֵית גְּנַאי, לְפִי שֶׁחֻלְשָׁתוֹ מוֹכַחַת עָלָיו שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי כָּךְ יוֹשֵׁב,יב וְיֵשׁ לִסְמֹךְ עַל דְּבָרָיו אִם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ בְּקַל לְהַרְחִיק ד' אַמּוֹת וְלֵישֵׁב שָׁם:יג

3 If a person had been sitting and someone stood up next to him and began to recite Shemoneh Esreh, he need not rise, for the other person infringed on his space. [This applies when] one is praying in a place that is not designated for prayer. In a synagogue, by contrast, [since] it is designated for prayer, one must stand, for that place was designated for everyone’s [use] and it is not appropriate to say that [by praying] someone is infringing on his space. [Moreover,] even at home, it is pious conduct6 to rise, in order to remove the stumbling block [created by] his friend who acted inappropriately by standing up to pray within his four cubits. [Though] he was seated there legitimately and is not obligated to rise for [the worshiper], his remaining seated is an affront to the holy place [created by prayer].

ג אִם הַיּוֹשֵׁב יָשַׁב כְּבָר וְעָמַד זֶה בְּצִדּוֹ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל – אֵין צָרִיךְ לָקוּם, שֶׁהֲרֵי זֶה בָּא בִּגְבוּלוֹ.יד וְהוּא שֶׁמִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּבַיִת שֶׁלֹּא יִחֲדוּהוּ לִתְפִלָּה,טו אֲבָל בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת שֶׁיִּחֲדוּהוּ לִתְפִלָּה – צָרִיךְ לָקוּם, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא מָקוֹם הַמְיֻחָד לַכֹּל, וְלֹא שַׁיָּךְ לוֹמַר זֶה בָּא בִּגְבוּלוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּבֵיתוֹ – מִדַּת חֲסִידוּת6 הוּא לָקוּם, כְּדֵי לְהָרִים מִכְשׁוֹל מֵחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה שֶׁלֹּא כַּשּׁוּרָהטז שֶׁעָמַד לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּתוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁל הַיּוֹשֵׁב כְּבָר בְּהֶתֵּריז וְאֵינוֹ מְחֻיָּב לָקוּם מִפָּנָיו, וִישִׁיבָתוֹ הִיא גְּנַאי לְמָקוֹם קָדוֹשׁ:

4 It is forbidden to pass within four cubits in front of people who are reciting Shemoneh Esreh,7 lest this distract them. It is, however, permitted to pass by their side and to stand there. However, one should not proceed further because then one would be passing in front of them, for as long as [a worshiper] can see him it is forbidden to pass, [lest] his concentration be disrupted. The Sages of the Zohar8 forbid [passing] within four cubits [of a person praying], even at his side.

ד אָסוּר לַעֲבֹר כְּנֶגֶד הַמִּתְפַּלְלִין בְּתוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹתיח שֶׁלִּפְנֵיהֶם,7 שֶׁמָּא תִּתְבַּטֵּל כַּוָּנָתָם.יט אֲבָל בְּצִידֵּיהֶם מֻתָּר לַעֲבֹרכ וְלַעֲמֹד שָׁם,כא וְלֹא יֵלֵךְ לְהָלְאָה שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה כְּנֶגֶד פְּנֵיהֶם, שֶׁכָּל שֶׁיּוּכַל לִרְאוֹתוֹ – אָסוּר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּתְבַּטֶּלֶת כַּוָּנָתוֹ.כב וְחַכְמֵי הַזֹּהַרכג,8 אוֹסְרִים אֲפִלּוּ בְּצִידֵּיהֶם תּוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת:

5 If one completed Shemoneh Esreh, and another person was praying behind him, he is forbidden to take three steps backward9 until that person finishes his prayer, for if he steps back before then, he will be passing in front of a person reciting Shemoneh Esreh.10 One must be careful in this regard even if [the person behind him] began praying after he did, for that person has already begun praying.11

ה אִם הִשְׁלִים תְּפִלָּתוֹ וְהָיָה אָדָם אֶחָד מִתְפַּלֵּל אַחֲרָיו – אָסוּר לִפְסֹעַ ג' פְּסִיעוֹתכד,9 עַד שֶׁיִּגְמֹר מִי שֶׁאַחֲרָיו אֶת תְּפִלָּתוֹ,כה שֶׁאִם יִפְסַע קֹדֶם לָכֵן – הֲרֵי הוּא עוֹבֵר כְּנֶגֶד הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל.10 וְצָרִיךְ לְדַקְדֵּק בָּזֶה אֲפִלּוּ אִם הָאַחֲרוֹן הִתְחִיל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אַחֲרָיו, מֵאַחַר שֶׁכְּבָר הִתְחִיל:כו,11