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Hilchos Beis Haknesset

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#1 Chaim613



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Posted 21 September 2012 - 02:59 PM

When sitting in shul, I sometimes sit with my legs crossed, either thigh over thigh, or ankle on top of knee (hope that is a good description) .........

the Sephardim (not just in my synagogue, but in many places I have davened) flip out about it, and make comments to put my leg down, etc. It is only Sephardim who have ever said anything.

I was wondering if there was a halacha against sitting like this, or what the issue was?

thank you

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 10:38 AM

There is a Halachah that we are supposed to act in the Bais Hamedrash with a feeling of reverence and respect. It is impossible to have a separate Halachah for every single manner of behavior that is outside of that category.

For example, it does not say anywhere that you cannot sit in the Bais Hamedrash in a clown suit with a red nose and fake glasses and mustache. But it would be forbidden because it is disrespectful for the Bais Hamedrash.

Now the question becomes where you draw the line. What level of informality is considered too casual for a place of holiness?

The answer to that is, it depends on (a) the person, and (b.) the community of the Bais Hamedrash. The more a person feels - is aware of - the holiness of Bais medrash, the more he responds - should respond in kind. Also, respect and honor is, to large extent, defined by social conventions in general,and what is disrespectful in one community may not be considered so in another. So if a certain community considers sitting in an informal manner disrespectful you shouldn't do it in their Shul. But it is not wrong in an absolute, intrinsic way.