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76:1. If there is excrement (1) in a lamp, one may (2) say [Shema] (3) in front of it even though he can see it through the sides, because what is needed is that the excrement be covered as it is written [Dvarim 23:14] “And you should cover your excrement” and it [this excrement] is covered.

MB 1: In a lamp – made of glass or something else transparent.

MB 2: Say [Shema] – One should realize that regarding all these laws from this point until Siman 88, and also the issue of nudity discussed above, wherever it mentions Shema, whether it be to allow something or to forbid it, it is not only for Shema, but the same is true for Torah and prayer and anything holy, whether he says it in Hebrew or in any other language.

MB 3: In front of it – If he smells a bad odor it is forbidden; and even according to those in Siman 79, Paragraph 2 who rule that a divider is good enough in a public area, this is only true if it is a barrier which creates a separate area, but covering with a vessel is not enough. Nonetheless, there is no need to go 4 amot [paces] from the place where the odor reaches, but rather as long as he doesn’t smell the odor that is enough – so wrote the Pri Megadim in this Siman. But in Siman 79 he leaves the question open – and see the Biur Halacha to Siman 79.

76:2. If there is excrement in a hole in the ground, one may put (4) his sandal over it and read [Shema] because it is thereby considered covered, and then as long as no bad odor reaches him, it is allowed. This is so long as (5) his sandal is not (6) touching it.

MB 4: His sandal – Not necessarily a sandal, the same is true for anything that will cover it. The reason why he mentioned a sandal is in order that one not reason that a sandal is considered like a part of his body, and it is as if he covered it with his bare foot, in which case it would not be good because his body isn’t considered a cover. Rather, we understand [that a sandal or shoe is not part of the body, and constitutes an acceptable cover].

MB 5: His sandal is not etc. – Even if the excrement does not spread outside and cannot be seen. And even though in the case of a lamp it is allowed even if it is touching the side, as long as it cannot be seen outside the lamp, the case of the sandal is different since it is a garment that he is wearing now; therefore if he removed the sandal and covered the excrement, then even if it was touching it would be acceptable.

MB 6: touching – See the Olat Tamid and the Pri Megadim who say that if after one said Shema and its blessings he found excrement stuck to his sandal on the bottom, he should repeat Shema without its blessings (see there for the reason). And in the case where the excrement is also on the side of the sandal see paragraph 8, MB 30 what we will write there.

76:3. If excrement was passed (7) in front of a person, one may not say [Shema] (8) in front of it. The mouth of the pig is considered like excrement that is passing by, and even if the pig just came out of the river, washing doesn’t help because (9) it is like a vessel filled with feces.

MB 7: In front of a person – and the same is true if it was floating on the water.

MB 8: In front of it – See the Beit Yoseph who says that there is no difference between passing and standing excrement, and therefore in this case as well one should distance himself so that he doesn’t see the excrement if it is in front of him, or that he is at least 4 amot [paces] from where the odor reaches if it is behind him, and so wrote the Ta”z and the Pri Chadash. If the excrement was crossing in front of him, then as long as it isn’t directly in front of him it is enough to be 4 amot away from the odor, i.e., before it reaches 4 amot from him and after it passes 4 amot away it is allowed [to read Shema] because then it is to his side, and it is written in siman 79 that to his side is like behind him, where it is enough to be 4 amot away from where the odor reaches (because anywhere the odor reaches is like the excrement itself, because it is “a bad odor coming from a specific source” and as we will see later in siman 79) and the Ba”ch and the Eliyahu Raba wrote that since it is passing excrement and it isn’t stationary in one place, it is enough to stand 4 amot from where the odor reaches even if it is in front of him. But one must nonetheless be strict if possible. After the fact if he already read Shema and prayed, and excrement had passed in front of him but more than 4 amot away, see the Pri Megadim who wrote, and I quote “and we already wrote that anywhere that there is a disagreement one should repeat Shema without its blessings, and for the Amida one should not go back and pray.” See there for more details.

MB 9: It is like a vessel – And regarding whether one may say Shema if a window is open and a pig is passing outside, see 79:2 in the Biur Halacha and the Mishna Berura what we shall write there.

Avi Bloch

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Today’s Halacha Yomis is dedicated in memorium to Hinda bas Kalman Michel, Helen Fishbein, whose Shloshim is today. May our learning be a blessing for her. Given by her granddaughter. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Siman 76: To keep away from excrement during the recital of the Shema

76:4. If there was excrement on his body that was covered (10) by his clothes, or he put his hand into the bathroom through (11) a hole and he cannot smell any odor, there are those opinions (12) who permit him to read [the Shema] and there are those opinions who forbid it. Others say that those who permit [him to say the Shema] with excrement on his body do so only if it is on a place that is covered by itself without a garment (13) e.g on the [inside] of his elbows. It is correct to follow the (14) strict view. {Rama: Semen on his body (15) has the same law as excrement}

MB 10: By his clothes – Someone whose hands were dirty from wiping himself, if there is no actual excrement [on his hands] but only dirt and the smell had disappeared and it is like crumb-like particles of dirty or sweaty hands when they are rubbed against each other, then another person may read [the Shema] next to it even without covering it. But only someone else; he himself whose hands are dirty or sweaty or after having scratched his head may not read the Shema or Shemono Esrei unless he washes his hands or at least if he doesn’t have water he should clean them similar to Siman 4. Look in the Biur Halacha.

MB 11: A hole – i.e there was a partition between himself and the bathroom and he extended his hand through the partition – because if this would not be the case there are some who rule in Siman 83 that one may not read next to the wall of a bathroom because it is has the same rule as excrement.

MB 12: Who permit it – because it says ‘All that breath praise G-d’ ie the mouth and nose are included in those who praise G-d but not the other limbs – even if they are unclean one may still praise G-d. The reason of those who don’t allow it is because it says ‘All my bones pronounce G-d Who is like You’ so we require that they must all be clean. According to this it is obvious that if one of his limbs is within 4 Amos of the excrement it is also forbidden to read. But if it was on his clothes and covered from above it is also allowed according to all views. Nevertheless, one should always be careful that ones clothes are clean and in particular for praying.

MB 13: elbows – i.e. then it helps if it is covered over by a garment.

MB 14: the stricter view – in a pressing situation one may rely on the lenient view that only the mouth and nose are included in those that praise G-d but not the other limbs.

MB 15: has the same law – i.e. one should be strict when it is on his body even if it is covered like excrement above; but if it is on his clothes and covered it is allowed according to all views as mentioned above. Some say that it is not like excrement. But in Sefer Chasidim Siman 509 it is clear that even if it is on his clothes and covered he should wash it or take it off so that the tumah should not cleave to him; and certainly if he stumbled (i.e. transgressed) through his emissions, he should clean himself in order that it should not be a reminder of his sin.

76:5. Excrement (16) on the anus, even if it is covered (17) one may not read [the Shema] (18) according to all views even if it can’t be seen when standing but only (19) when sitting.

MB 16: On the anus – If a person is suffering from piles and there is blood constantly pouring out and with it a smelly liquid, he may not say anything holy as long as the smelly liquid comes out. But if there is no bad smell with the blood or the liquid comes out [only] by pushing [and] in intervals, it comes from the stomach and there is a remedy by washing the area. But if it flows constantly by itself then it comes from the bowels and there is no remedy.

MB 17: One may not read – After the fact if he read the Shema he must read it again. But with regard to the Shmoneh Esrei, it is not clear that he must repeat it. So says the Chayei Adam. But there are many Later commentaries who write that he must pray again.

MB 18: According to all views – i.e. even according to those who permit in paragraph 4 when there is covered excrement on his body this case is different. Because at the source the smell is more poignant. Therefore, a person should be particular to wipe himself and wash with water to ensure that no excrement remains on his anus.

MB 19: when sitting – but if it cannot be seen even when he sits then it is allowed, because the Torah was not given to the angels. [i.e. if he has done all that is humanly possible, then he can’t be expected to do more. JC]

76:6. If there was a (20) small amount of excrement in front of him, he may neutralise (Mevatel) it with some saliva that he spits on it, and he may read next to it as long as the (21) saliva is thick. This only helps for a short time. But if he does not read straight away and the saliva gets absorbed, it does not become neutralized.

MB 20: Small amount of excrement – Even a tiny bit, because there is no minimum measurement. R’ Akiva Eiger writes in the name of the Nezirus Shimshon that one does not have to keep away from human sick-up, even though it is repulsive.

MB 21: Saliva is thick – Then it is considered a covering, only as long as he can’t smell anything. And if he puts water on it it does not help unless the water is dirty, such that you can’t see the excrement through it. It is not comparable to excrement behind glass because glass is considered a proper cover [and water is not]. Therefore one should be careful not to say the Shema next to a bucket of water containing soiled childrens’ clothes.