SECTION 74 One may not Recite a Blessing while his Limbs See [his] Nakedness. (1–7)

סימן עד שֶׁלֹּא לְבָרֵךְ כְּשֶׁאֲבָרָיו רוֹאִים אֶת הָעֶרְוָה וּבוֹ ז' סְעִיפִים:

1 It is written in the Torah:1 “You shall sit and cover... because G‑d, your L‑rd, proceeds in the midst of your camp... Your camp shall be holy so that He see no nakedness among you.” From this our Sages2 derived that wherever G‑d, our L‑rd, accompanies us, i.e., whenever we are engaged in the recitation of the Shema or Shemoneh Esreh or in Torah study, our camp must be holy. [This implies that] feces should not be in view3 and that G‑d should not see any nakedness among us, i.e., that there should be no nakedness in front of a person reciting [the Shema] or Shemoneh Esreh as far as he can see4 — for a person’s primary “camp” is the area in front of him.5 This “camp” must be holy, i.e., G‑d should not see any nakedness within it. This prohibition is of Scriptural origin.6

The Sages added that the places in which G‑d abides within us — i.e., the head and the heart of a person who is reciting [the Shema] or Shemoneh Esreh — must also not “see any nakedness.” [This implies that] they should not be together with “nakedness” under one covering without any separation or interposition between them7 (although according to Scriptural Law this would not be an infringement of “seeing no nakedness,” since the nakedness is covered from human [sight].)

Therefore, if one was sleeping naked and covered with a garment8 — even though he saw to it that his head was outside the garment so that it not be under the same covering as his nakedness — he may not recite the Shema9 until he makes a separation with his garment over his heart,10 to interpose between his heart and his nakedness. For [the Shema may not be read] when his heart sees his nakedness.

The same applies if his heart sees the nakedness of his fellow, i.e., there is nothing separating his heart from the nakedness of another person, e.g., if they are sleeping naked and covered with one garment, and are distant from each other so that they are not touching, but are facing each other.

א כָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה:א,1 "וְשַׁבְתָּ וְכִסִּיתָ וְכו', כִּי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ מִתְהַלֵּךְ בְּקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶךָ וְגו', וְהָיָה מַחֲנֶיךָ קָדוֹשׁ, וְלֹא יִרְאֶה בְךָ עֶרְוַת דָּבָר וְגו'". מִכָּאן לָמְדוּ חֲכָמִיםב,2 שֶׁבְּכָל מְקוֹם שֶׁה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מִתְהַלֵּךְ עִמָּנוּ, דְּהַיְנוּ כְּשֶׁאָנוּ עוֹסְקִים בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַעג וּבִתְפִלָּהד אוֹ בְּדִבְרֵי תּוֹרָהה – צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת הַמַּחֲנֶה קָדוֹשׁ, שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא צוֹאָה מְגֻלָּה שָׁם,ו,3 וְשֶׁלֹּא יִרְאֶה ה' בָּנוּ עֶרְוַת דָּבָר, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה דְּבַר עֶרְוָה כְּנֶגֶד פָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָםז הַקּוֹרֵא אוֹ מִתְפַּלֵּל כִּמְלֹא עֵינָיו,ח,4 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעִקָּר מַחֲנֵהוּ שֶׁל אָדָם הוּא כְּנֶגֶד פָּנָיו,ט,5 וְצָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מַחֲנֶה זֶה קָדוֹשׁ, שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאֶה בּוֹ ה' עֶרְוַת דָּבָר. וְאִסּוּר זֶה הוּא מִן הַתּוֹרָה.י,6

וְהַחֲכָמִים הוֹסִיפוּ שֶׁהַמְּקוֹמוֹת אֲשֶׁר ה' שׁוֹכֵן בָּהֶם בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ, שֶׁהֵם רֹאשׁוֹ וְלִבּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם הַקּוֹרֵא אוֹ מִתְפַּלֵּל – צָרִיךְ גַּם כֵּן שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ רוֹאִים אֶת הָעֶרְוָה, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה עִם הָעֶרְוָה תַּחַת מִכְסֶה אֶחָד בְּלִי הֶפְסֵק וַחֲצִיצָה בֵּינֵיהֶםיא,7 (אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּן הַתּוֹרָה אֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם "וְלֹא יִרְאֶה בְךָ" כו', כֵּיוָן שֶׁעֶרְוָתוֹ מְכֻסָּה נֶגֶד בְּנֵי אָדָםיב).

לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיָה יָשֵׁן עָרֹם וּמִתְכַּסֶּה בְּטַלִּיתוֹ,8 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוֹצִיא רֹאשׁוֹ חוּץ לְטַלִּיתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה עִם עֶרְוָתוֹ תַּחַת מִכְסֶה אֶחָד – הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִקְרָא9 עַד שֶּׁיָּחֹץ בְּטַלִּיתוֹ עַל לִבּוֹ10 לְהַפְסִיק בֵּין לִבּוֹ לָעֶרְוָה, שֶׁלִּבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה אָסוּר.יג וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם לִבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת עֶרְוַת חֲבֵרוֹ,יד דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁאֵין הֶפְסֵק בֵּין לִבּוֹ לְעֶרְוַת חֲבֵרוֹ,טו כְּגוֹן שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם שׁוֹכְבִים עֲרֻמִּים וּמִתְכַּסִּים בְּטַלִּית אֶחָד וְהֵם רְחוֹקִים זֶה מִזֶּה שֶׁאֵין בְּשָׂרָם נוֹגֵעַ אֶלָּא שֶׁפְּנֵיהֶם זֶה כְּנֶגֶד זֶה:טז

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2 Even if one’s heart is covered with a garment to separate it from his nakedness, his nakedness must also be covered. If it is exposed, it is forbidden to recite [the Shema] according to Scriptural Law. [This applies] even if he turns his face away so that he not see it, or closes his eyes.11 For the Torah does not say, “You shall not see any nakedness,” but rather, “that He see no [nakedness] among you,” [implying that] it should be covered in such a way that it will not be seen by a person standing nearby. Therefore, if a person standing naked in a house puts his head out of the window so that he will not see his own nakedness, he may not recite [the Shema] even if he covers his heart with a garment, because his nakedness is exposed and visible in the house.12

[Suppose,] by contrast, someone [lies down to] sleep naked in a canopy bed which is less than ten handbreadths high, puts his head out, and also covers his heart with a garment. Even though his nakedness is exposed within the canopy bed, he is considered as if covered by a garment [and may therefore recite the Shema], for the canopy bed, being less than ten handbreadths high,13 is considered as a covering. A house is different: since it constitutes a separate domain, and his nakedness is visible within it, [reciting the Shema in such a situation] is forbidden.

ב אֲפִלּוּ אִם לִבּוֹ מְכֻסֶּה בְּבֶגֶד לְהַפְסִיק בֵּינוֹ לָעֶרְוָה – צָרִיךְ שֶׁתְּהֵא עֶרְוָתוֹ גַּם כֵּן מְכֻסָּה. וְאִם הוּא מְגֻלֶּה – אָסוּר לִקְרוֹת מִן הַתּוֹרָה, אֲפִלּוּ אִם הֶחֱזִיר פָּנָיו מִמֶּנָּה שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאֶנָּה אוֹ שֶׁעָצַם עֵינָיו,יז,11 שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא נֶאֱמַר "לֹא תִּרְאֶה עֶרְוַת דָּבָר", אֶלָּא "לֹא יִרְאֶה בְךָ", כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁתְּהֵא מְכֻסֶּה בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא נִרְאֶה לְאַחֵר הָעוֹמֵד אֶצְלוֹ.יח לְפִיכָךְ הָעוֹמֵד בַּבַּיִת עָרֹם וְהוֹצִיא רֹאשׁוֹ חוּץ לַחַלּוֹן שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאֶה עֶרְוָתוֹ,יט אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכִּסָּה לִבּוֹ בְּבֶגֶד – הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִקְרָא, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעֶרְוָתוֹ מִגֻלָּה וְנִרְאֵית בַּבַּיִת.כ,12

אֲבָל הַיָּשֵׁן עָרֹם בְּכִלָּה שֶׁאֵינוֹ גָּבוֹהַּ י' טְפָחִים וְהוֹצִיא רֹאשׁוֹ חוּצָה לָהּכא וְגַם כִּסָּה בְּבֶגֶד עַל לִבּוֹ,כב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֶרְוָתוֹ מִגֻלָּה בַּכִּלָּה – הֲרֵי זֶה כִּמְכֻסֶּה בְּטַלִּית,כג שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין הַכִּלָּה גָּבוֹהַּ י' טְפָחִים13 שֵׁם כִּסּוּי עָלֶיהָ, וְאֵינָהּ דּוֹמָה לְבַיִת שֶׁהוּא חָלוּק רְשׁוּת לְעַצְמוֹ, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהָעֶרְוָה נִרְאֵית בְּתוֹכוֹ – אָסוּר:

3 Water, even if clear, is considered a covering for nakedness,14 provided one’s head and heart are above the waterline, so that they are not together with his nakedness under one covering, as stated in subsection 1.15 [Different rules apply] if his heart is below the waterline. If [the water] is clear, it is forbidden [to recite the Shema], because his heart sees his nakedness. If, however, the water is so cloudy that his limbs are not visible in it, it is permitted to recite [the Shema] in [the water],16 for it is considered an interposition between his heart and his nakedness. [The above permission applies] only if [the water] is not malodorous, in which instance one must [first] distance oneself four cubits from it, as will be explained below.17

[If one is standing] on the soil underlying clear water, he should make the water cloudy with his feet; he is then permitted [to recite the Shema]. When a person is bathing in clear water in a container18 and cannot make it cloudy, and he desires to drink, if his heart is below the waterline he should cover himself with a garment below his heart and recite the blessing.

If, however, he covers his [heart] with his hand, this is not considered as a covering, for the heart and the hand are [parts of] the same body and the body cannot cover itself. The same principle applies if one covers his head with his hand: it is not considered a covering that would enable him to recite a blessing with his head uncovered in this manner,19 as will be explained in sec. 91[:4].20

ג מַיִם אֲפִלּוּ הֵן צְלוּלִין חֲשׁוּבִים כִּסּוּי לָעֶרְוָה,כד,14 וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיּוֹצִיא רֹאשׁוֹ וְלִבּוֹ חוּץ לַמַּיִם,כה שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה עִם עֶרְוָתוֹ תַּחַת מִכְסֶה אֶחָד כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר סָעִיף א'.15 וְאִם לִבּוֹ תּוֹךְ הַמַּיִם, אִם הֵם צְלוּלִים – אָסוּר מִשּׁוּם לִבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה. וְאִם הֵן עֲכוּרִים שֶׁאֵין אֲבָרָיו נִרְאִים בָּהֶם – מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹת בְּתוֹכָם,כו,16 וְהוּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵם חֲשׁוּבִים הֶפְסֵק בֵּין לִבּוֹ לָעֶרְוָה. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה רֵיחָם רַע,כז שֶׁאָז צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק מֵהֶם ד' אַמּוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן.כח,17 וּמַיִם צְלוּלִים שֶׁעַל גַּבֵּי קַרְקַע עוֹכְרָן בְּרַגְלָיו וּמֻתָּר.כט וְהָרוֹחֵץ בְּמַיִם צְלוּלִים שֶׁבַּכְּלִי18 שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְעָכְרָן וְרוֹצֶה לִשְׁתּוֹת, אִם לִבּוֹ תּוֹךְ הַמַּיִם – יְכַסֶּה בַּבֶּגֶד מִמַּטָּה לְלִבּוֹ וִיבָרֵךְ.ל

אֲבָל אִם כִּסָּהוּ בְּיָדוֹ – אֵינוֹ חָשׁוּב כִּסּוּי, שֶׁהַלֵּב וְהַיָּד גּוּף אֶחָד הֵן וְאֵין הַגּוּף יָכוֹל לְכַסּוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ.לא וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם מְכַסֶּה אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ בְּיָדָיו – אֵינוֹ חָשׁוּב כִּסּוּי שֶׁיּוּכַל לְבָרֵךְ כָּךְ בְּגִלּוּי הָרֹאשׁ,לב,19 כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן בְּסִימָן צ"א:לג,20

4 If a person hugs himself with his arms, this is considered as an interposition between his body and his nakedness. For though his arms are not considered a covering, they are considered an interposition, since in fact his heart does not see his nakedness.21

ד אִם הָאָדָם מְחַבֵּק גּוּפוֹ בִּזְרוֹעוֹתָיו – הֲרֵי זֶה חֲשׁוּבָה הַפְסָקָה בֵּין לִבּוֹ לָעֶרְוָה,לד שֶׁאַף שֶׁהַיָּד אֵינָהּ חֲשׁוּבָה כִּסּוּי – חֲשׁוּבָה הַפְסָקָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁמִּכָּל מָקוֹם אֵין לִבּוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה:לה,21

5 Some authorities maintain that a woman may recite blessings and pray when wearing only a robe even though there is nothing interposing below her heart. [The rationale is that] her nakedness is very low and is not seen by her heart. Nevertheless, if she was naked, since her nakedness is exposed and visible to others, it is forbidden [for her to recite blessings, because of the prohibition], “So that He see no nakedness among you.” If a woman is sitting and hence her nakedness is not visible, she is permitted to recite a blessing even if she is naked, as will be explained in sec. 206[:6].22

ה יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםלו שֶׁהַנָּשִׁים יְכוֹלוֹת לְבָרֵךְ וּלְהִתְפַּלֵּל כְּשֶׁהֵן לְבוּשׁוֹת הֶחָלוּק אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָן מַפְסִיקוֹת לְמַטָּה מִלִּבָּן, לְפִי שֶׁעֶרְוָתָן לְמַטָּה מְאֹד וְאֵין לִבָּם רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם הֵן עֲרֻמּוֹת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעֶרְוָתָן מִגֻלָּה וְנִרְאֵית לַאֲחֵרִים – אָסוּרלז מִשּׁוּם "וְלֹא יִרְאֶה בְךָ עֶרְוַת דָּבָר וְגו'". וְאִם הִיא יוֹשֶׁבֶת שֶׁאָז אֵין פָּנֶיהָ שֶׁל מַטָּה נִרְאֵית – מֻתֶּרֶת לְבָרֵךְ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא עֲרֻמָּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ר"ו:לח,22

6 It is permitted [for one to recite a blessing when] his other organs see his nakedness. If, however, any of his organs are touching his nakedness or that of a fellow, it is forbidden to recite [the Shema] or Shemoneh Esreh. [With regard to] his thighs, on which his nakedness lies, he must interpose a cloth between them or hold them apart, so that his organ not touch them. We need not be concerned, however, if his scrotum touches [his thighs], for [the Sages] forbade [reciting blessings] when one’s limbs are touching his nakedness only as a safeguard, lest [he recite blessings] when his hands touch his nakedness and bring about erotic thoughts. Therefore, since [this concern does not relate to] the scrotum, there is no need here to institute [the above] safeguard against the organs [touching or] seeing one’s nakedness. [This applies] even though [the scrotum] if exposed is considered nakedness with regard to the prohibition against reciting [the Shema], as in the verse, “So that He see no nakedness among you.”

ו שְׁאָר אֲבָרָיו רוֹאִים אֶת הָעֶרְוָה – מֻתָּר.לט אֲבָל אִם אֵיזֶה מֵאֲבָרָיו נוֹגֵעַ בְּעֶרְוָתוֹ אוֹ בְּעֶרְוַת חֲבֵרוֹ – אָסוּר לִקְרוֹתמ אוֹ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל.מא וְיַרְיכוֹתָיו שֶׁהָעֶרְוָה שׁוֹכֶבֶת עֲלֵיהֶן – צָרִיךְ לְהַפְסִיקָן בְּבֶגֶד,מב אוֹ לְהַרְחִיקָן בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁלֹּא יִגַּע הַגִּיד בָּהֶן. אֲבָל בַּכִּיס אֵין לָחוּשׁ אִם נוֹגֵעַ בָּהֶן,מג לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא אָסְרוּ אֲבָרָיו נוֹגְעִים בְּעֶרְוָתוֹ אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם גְּזֵירָה אַטּוּ יָדוֹמד נוֹגַעַת בְּעֶרְוָתוֹ שֶׁאָז יָבוֹא לִידֵי הִרְהוּר, לְפִיכָךְ בַּכִּיס שֶׁאֵין לָחוּשׁ בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם הִרְהוּר אַף אִם הָיְתָה נוֹגַעַת בּוֹ – אֵין לִגְזֹר בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם אֲבָרָיו רוֹאִים אֶת הָעֶרְוָה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עֶרְוָה גְּמוּרָהמה לְעִנְיָן שֶׁאִם הוּא מְגֻלֶּה אָסוּר לִקְרוֹת כְּנֶגְדּוֹ מִשּׁוּם "וְלֹא יִרְאֶה בְךָ וְגו'":מו

7 If a garment is tied around one’s waist to cover his [body] from the loins downward, he may recite the Shema even though he is naked above his loins, for his nakedness is covered and the garment is separating his heart from his nakedness.23 Shemoneh Esreh, by contrast, may not be recited unless one [also] covers his heart.24 [The rationale is] that when reciting Shemoneh Esreh, one must perceive himself as standing before the King and speaking to Him. Hence he must stand in awe. When reciting the Shema, by contrast, one is not speaking with the King.25

ז הָיְתָה טַלִּיתוֹ חֲגוּרָה לוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו לְכַסּוֹתוֹ מִמָּתְנָיו וּלְמַטָּה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּמָּתְנָיו וּלְמַעְלָה הוּא עָרֹם – מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעֶרְוָתוֹ מְכֻסָּה, וְגַם הַטַּלִּית מַפְסֶקֶת בֵּין לִבּוֹ לָעֶרְוָה.מז,23 אֲבָל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אָסוּר עַד שֶׁיְּכַסֶּה לִבּוֹ,מח,24 לְפִי שֶׁבַּתְּפִלָּה צָרִיךְ לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּעוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וּמְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לַעֲמֹד בְּאֵימָה, אֲבָל בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֵינוֹ מְדַבֵּר עִם הַמֶּלֶךְ:מט,25