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103:1. If you were in the midst of prayer and flatulated, you should wait until the (1) smell has passed by (2) and then continue praying.

MB 1: Smell – Because until then he is not even allowed to learn Torah, as above Siman 79:9.

MB 2: And then continue praying – Meaning from where he stopped, even if he waited some time after the smell dissipated, and the total interruption was more than the time it would take him to finish the entire prayer. This is true because had he so desired he could have continued as soon as the smell dissipated, so therefore the interruption is not completely beyond his control, and thus he does not need to return to the beginning according to the ruling of the Ramah above in Siman 65. The Later Authorities write that in this instance he need not say the “Ribon…” [Master… – an addition to prayer] mentioned in paragraph 2 [below] because when one does not move back [as described below] no one recognizes his embarrassment, similar to the Rama’s remarks later in paragraph 2.

Jonathan Chody

Siman 103. One who has to break wind or sneeze (continued)

103:2. If one is praying the Amidah [Silent Prayer] and feels the need to break wind and is in great discomfort (3) and cannot restrain himself, then he should step (4) backwards four cubits (6-8 feet), release the gas, wait until the smell disperses and say: (5) “Master of the Universe, You have created us with many openings and cavities. Our shame and our disgrace are open and known before You; shame and disgrace during our lifetime, worms and insects after death.” (6) He should then return to his place and resume his prayer (7) where he left off. {Rama: (8) See above Siman 85, Par. 1. Some authorities say that all of this pertains when one prays at home, but when one prays in public where one would be greatly embarrassed, one is not required to step backwards at all, (9) nor to say “Master of the Universe…”, but rather one should merely wait until the smell has dispersed [as in 103:1], and that is the practice. (Trumas HaDeshen, Siman 16 – Rabbi Yisrael Isserlein, 15th Cent.).

MB 3: If he cannot restrain himself – If he _can_ restrain himself, he is forbidden to break wind during prayer. We are not concerned here with the prohibition of “Do not make your souls abominable” (Leviticus 11:43 and 20:25), [which implies that one should not wait to attend to his needs,] because this applies only to restraining oneself from passing water or moving one’s bowels, but not to passing wind. It appears to me that in any case one should take care to move one’s Tefilin from their place since it is forbidden to pass wind while wearing Tefilin.

MB 4: Backwards – Since he must face the place where he began to pray, to show that he still desires to return to his prayer. He is even forbidden to step to the side or forwards.

MB 5: And say “Master of the Universe” – In the middle of the Silent Prayer, since it has already been interrupted by his breaking wind; therefore one is permitted to insert this prayer in the middle.

MB 6: He should then return to his place – In the Chayei Adam (Rabbi Avraham Danzig, 17th-18th Cents.) the author agrees with those who opine that one should return to one’s place prior to saying “Master of the Universe.”

MB 7: Where he left off – Apparently, this means the beginning of the blessing during which he interrupted, as seen later on in Siman 104, Par. 5 (Levushei Serad, by Rabbi David Shlomo Eybeschutz, 18th-19th Cents), and see later on what we have written there regarding the halacha (law) in the name of the later authorities.

MB 8: And See above Siman 85, Par. 1 – That is, it is explained there that if one delayed sufficient time to complete the entire Silent Prayer, one must return to the very beginning. The Bach (acronym for Bayis Chadash, by Rabbi Yoel Sirkes, 16th-17th Cents.) writes that this delay includes only the time for breaking wind and dispersal of the smell, but not the time required to step backwards four cubits, return to his place, and recite “Master of the Universe.” The Pri Megadim (by Rabbi Yosef Teomim, 18th Cent.) also says this.

MB 9: Nor to say “Master of the Universe” – But it is a good practice to think the words to himself.

103:3. (10) If one breaks wind from below while praying the Silent Prayer it is considered an unfavorable sign for him, but if one sneezes it is considered a good sign for him.

MB 10: If one breaks wind – Some authorities say that this applies only one passes wind audibly, but the Magen Avraham (Rabbi Avraham Abeli Gombiner, 17th Cent.) disagrees and maintains that this applies also if one passes wind inaudibly, and that one must step back also in this case, as noted above in 103:2.