Angel Feet

The Talmud tells us that when we pray the Amidah, we should resemble the angels, about whom it is said, “Their legs were a straight leg . . .”1 Since angels appear one-footed, we similarly align our feet so that they appear as one.2

Likewise, when we say the Kedushah prayer, in which we sanctify G‑d with the very words used by the angels, we place our feet together.3

Like the Kohanim

According to an alternative opinion found in the Jerusalem Talmud, we pray with our feet together to appear like the kohanim (priests), since our prayer is in place of the offerings they would bring in the Holy Temple. When the kohanim would walk about the Temple, they took dignified baby steps; the heel of one foot would not extend beyond the toe of the other.4 Keeping our feet together is reminiscent of that gait.

Some explain that the traditions are essentially one, as the kohanim themselves kept their feet together to resemble the angels. Taking baby steps was the closest they could come to the stationary angelic pose.5

Only G‑d Can Provide

Beyond the two reasons mentioned in the Talmud, some say this pose demonstrates that no one but G‑d can provide for our needs. When we put our feet together as if they are bound, we show that we are completely helpless without G‑d.6

Reaching Higher

One reason for modeling the angels when we pray is that we may generally be occupied with our own thoughts and mundane activities. Prayer is a time to push away all distractions and focus solely on connecting to G‑d. Thus, we try to emulate the angels, who are egoless and recognize that there is nothing at all besides G‑d.7

Opening the Gates of Heaven

Noting the Talmudic teaching that we pray in a fashion similar to the angels, the Zohar says, “The Holy One, Blessed Be He, tells the angels, ‘If you see people who are exceptional in their prayers by putting their feet together in the same fashion that you do, open the gates of heaven for them so that they may enter.’”8

May all of our prayers, including the ultimate prayer for the final redemption, be answered speedily! Amen!