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Cleanliness for Prayer or Torah Study

Cleanliness for Prayer or Torah Study

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1. When one is engaged in a holy matter (for example, prayer, or study of the Torah), then the place must be clean, and no uncovered excrement be found there, nor other unholiness be visible.

2. Even to meditate on holy matters in a place where there is excrement or urine (or a bad odor) is prohibited unless it is covered.

3. If there is excrement on one’s persons or urine is present, the person is forbidden to engage in holy matters, even if his clothes cover this uncleanliness.

4. If there is some doubt whether excrement or urine is present, in the place where he wishes to pray or study, the place must be examined before anything holy may be uttered.

5. It is proper even to keep away from the excrement or the urine of a new born infant.

6. One must keep at a distance from human excrement, even if it produces no bad odor; and also from that of a cat, or turkey.

7. One should also stay away from other sources of bad odors such as rotted corpses, chicken coops, and the like.

8. Dry excrement that can be easily pulverized, if it produces no bad odors, is considered like earth.

9. Frozen excrement is the same as other excrement.

10. Snow upon excrement is a valid covering.

11. How far must one keep away? If the excrement is in back of him, he should be at least four cubits from the place where the odor ends. The same applies even if he does not smell it.

12. But if no odors are produced, four cubits from the spot where it lies is sufficient.

13. If the excrement is in front of him, he should go so far until it disappears from view. At night, he should keep the same distance.

14. If the excrement is on his side, he should follow the latter, and the stricter, course.

15. If excrement is discovered during prayer, the reader (cantor) should stop until it is removed or covered. This is true even if the excrement is behind him and the proper distance away, because someone else in the congregation is within that distance and prevented from praying thereby, and that person is also included in the services.

16. If one discovers excrement after finishing his prayers and the place is one which should have been suspected of uncleanliness, then his prayers are in vain. He should repeat the Shmone Esrai and also repeat the Shema with its appropriate blessings.

17. Other benedictions, or grace after meals, need not be repeated.

18. In the case of urine, even in places which might have been suspected of its presence, one need repeat nothing over again.

19. Also, in a bath house or filthy alley, not may not speak or think of holy matters, nor mention names appropriated to G‑d, (Shalom is one of them). He must not mention its name of G‑d in any language.

20. Even when one is fully dressed, he is forbidden to utter anything holy unless he makes a separation between his lower organs and chest. This can be done by wearing tight trousers, by wearing a gartel (ornamental belt), or by placing his arm on his waist.

21. The same law applies to the song of women [even his wife], but in emergencies, one may continue to pray or recite the Shema or study the Torah, even if some woman sings, provided he pay no heed to her and concentrate on his holy service.

22. The hair of a married woman, if it is uncovered, then her husband, as well as other men (but not other women), are forbidden to utter Torah matters.

Translated by Nissan Mindel
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Menachem Posner September 22, 2014

To Unkayvah David: Sure, it is never too early to recognize G-d. In fact, that is why we say Mode Ani, even before washing our hands in the morning. Yet, there are still guidelines regarding when we say His name and study His Torah. Not because we don't value Torah. On the contrary; it is so precious that we treat it with utmost respect and care. Reply

Unkayvah David September 20, 2014

These seem all well and good but, what if the wife is getting ready in the morning and she has a spiritual insight regarding torah matters that she must tell her husband about? Her hair is uncovered still and what if he is still in bed? I mean, im a Jew and I understand why you think it should be so strict, but in being legalistic-ish, you're missing the point of spirituality and praying without ceasing. Hashem doesnt want you to wait until after youve gone to the bathroom to pray..why not pray, thanking Hashem in joyful gladness that He's opened your openings while on the toilet?
Just thoughts. Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary, NC May 22, 2012

Re: See Chapter 5 of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Concise Code of Jewish Law) Reply

Shannon San Francisco May 18, 2012

Citations? Could you please give the citations for these rules? Thank you! Reply

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