Project Genesis

Kneeling in Prayer

Question: I have heard that Jewish people no longer kneel to pray. I admit it sounds like a silly proposition, but I generally trust the person who told me. I know the Torah spells out many physical positions for prayer: lying down on one’s bed, prone on the floor, standing, kneeling, etc.

If “standing” is now the recognized position for praying can you please tell me where I might read about the reasons behind it, or perhaps you could explain it to me yourself.

Thank you very much for your time.

Answer: You may continue to trust the person who told you that Jews, for the most part, do not kneel…

Jewish tradition associates kneeling with a practice common among ancient idolaters. The Bible warns against idolatry in many places, the most famous being the second of the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20:3: “You must not have any other gods before My Presence.” Although kneeling in prayer is also practiced among Monotheistic religions today, the association still remains, and therefore Jews do not kneel. It is customary among many Jews to kneel at specific parts of their High Holiday services, but this is an exception. Standing, sitting, or bowing while standing are the positions used in the regular mode of prayer.

Best Regards,
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler

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