BERACHOS 25 - Two weeks of study material have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fawer to honor the Yahrzeit of her father, Rav Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Rabbi Morton Weiner) Z'L, who passed away on 18 Teves 5760. May the merit of supporting and advancing Dafyomi study -- which was so important to him -- during the weeks of his Yahrzeit serve as an Iluy for his Neshamah.
1) AGADAH: WEARING CLOTHES FOR THE SHEMA AND SHEMONEH ESREH
The Gemara teaches that when one recites the Shema, the lower part of his body must be covered, but the upper part may be uncovered. When one says Shemoneh Esreh, his upper body must also be covered, because when one says Shemoneh Esreh he must appear as though he is standing before the King (Rashi, DH Aval l'Tefilah). Based on this Gemara, the BRISKER RAV (Parshas Bereishis) gives a beautiful explanation of what transpired in Gan Eden.
After eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam ha'Rishon ran away and hid when he heard the voice of Hash-m calling him. When Hash-m confronted him and asked where he was, Adam answered that he had run away to hide because he was naked (Bereishis 3:10). However, the Torah itself relates that by that point in time Adam was already wearing clothes (Bereishis 3:7)! Why did he say that he was naked?
The Brisker Rav answers that we learn from the Gemara here that as long as one is not "standing before the King," it suffices to cover only the lower part of one's body. When Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, it was sufficient for him to cover the lower part of his body. However, when he heard the voice of Hash-m calling, he hid to cover the upper part of his body as well, because he could not stand before the King with his upper body unclad, as our Gemara states!
2) HALACHAH: EXCREMENT ON ONE'S FLESH
OPINIOINS: Rav Huna and Rav Chisda argue whether one may recite the Shema when there is excrement on part of his body, or when part of his body (such as his hand) is extended into a bathroom. Rav Huna says that he may say the Shema, and Rav Chisda says that he may not. What is the Halachah?
(a) TOSFOS (24b, DH Pasak) cites RABEINU CHANANEL who rules like Rav Chisda that one may not say the Shema.
(b) The RIF rules like Rav Huna that one may say the Shema, because the Gemara in Yoma (30a) asks a question based on Rav Huna's ruling that one may recite the Shema in such a state, implying that the Halachah follows his view.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 76:5) cites both opinions but concludes that it is better to be stringent, and only under extenuating circumstances may one be lenient. The Mishnah Berurah adds that this applies even if one's hand is not touching excrement, but is within four Amos of it.
3) RECITING THE SHEMA AT SUNRISE
QUESTION: The Mishnah (23b) states that if a person is immersing in a Mikvah when the time to recite the Shema arrives, he should get out and cover himself in order to recite the Shema before sunrise. If he will not be able to get out before sunrise, he should cover himself with water and recite the Shema in the Mikvah. The Gemara says that this Mishnah follows even the view of Rebbi Yehudah, who maintains that one may recite the Shema until the third hour of the day (that is, until three hours after sunrise), and it is referring to the practice of the Vasikin, who were meticulous to recite the Shema at sunrise.
Why may one forfeit reciting Shemoneh Esreh immediately after reciting the words of redemption contained in the Shema ("Semichas Ge'ulah l'Tefilah"), and forfeit the Mitzvah of reciting Shemoneh Esreh with a Minyan, in order to fulfill merely a preferred way ("Hidur") of reciting the Shema (i.e. at sunrise)?
(a) According to RASHI earlier (2a, DH Ad Sof), it is considered "Semichas Ge'ulah l'Tefilah" whenever one recites the Shema right before Shemoneh Esreh, even if one is not actually fulfilling the Mitzvah of the Shema at that point (that is, he fulfilled the Mitzvah earlier when he recited it at sunrise).
(b) TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH (4b, in the pages of the Rif, DH Tanya) answer that reciting the Shema at sunrise is not merely a preferred way of fulfilling the Mitzvah ("Hidur"), but it is actually the requirement l'Chatchilah. They explain that there is a paradox with regard to the recitation of the Shema: on one hand, Shemoneh Esreh cannot be recited before sunrise (under normal circumstances). On the other hand, the Shema cannot be recited after sunrise (l'Chatchilah). What, then, should one do if he wants to fulfill the Mitzvah of Shema in the ideal manner of being Somech Ge'ulah l'Tefilah? He should recite the Shema immediately before sunrise, and Shemoneh Esreh immediately after sunrise, as was the practice of the Vasikin.
4) PRAYING AND LEARNING TORAH NEAR EXCREMENT
QUESTION: The Gemara says that if excrement is contained within a glass container, one may recite the Shema facing it, even though he can see the excrement. The Gemara explains that only with regard to a Davar sheb'Ervah (human nakedness) does the sight of something forbid him to recite words of holiness. Similarly, the Gemara later (25a) states that if excrement is being transported nearby, one may recite the Shema, because it is not considered in one's "area" ("Machaneh"). From here we see that the recitation of the Shema depends on whether the excrement is in one's "area" and not on whether one can see it.
According to this, why does the Gemara (25a) say that one may not recite the Shema if there is excrement in front of him within his range of vision (even though he cannot smell it)? If it is outside of his four Amos, then what difference does it make if he can see it or not? (RASHBA)
(a) The RASHBA answers that the verse, "v'Lo Yir'ah Becha Ervas Davar" -- "There shall not be seen in you any disgusting thing" (Devarim 23:15), refers not only to Ervah but to excrement as well (that is, it refers back to the previous phrase in the same verse that states that "your area shall be holy" and it shall not contain excrement). Hence, there is also a prohibition against seeing excrement! Why, then, is it sometimes permitted to recite the Shema in front of excrement (such as when it is contained in a glass container), but never in front of Ervah?
The Rashba answers that the verse teaches us that there are three exceptions to the rule that forbids seeing excrement while praying. First, the verse says, "v'Chisisa Es Tzeisecha" -- "You shall cover your excrement." If it is covered, then excrement is considered non-existent even if one can see it. That is why it is permitted to recite the Shema when excrement is before him in a glass container -- because it is completely covered. Second, the verse states, "v'Hayah Machanecha Kadosh" -- "Your area shall be holy," which teaches that the prohibition depends on whether excrement is in one's "area" or not. This applies when the excrement is only partially covered -- that is, the one reciting the Shema cannot see it from his point of view but others can see it. Third, if excrement is in front of a person and he sees it, then he must distance himself from it until he can no longer see it.
(b) The ROSH (3:46) says that there is no prohibition to recite the Shema while seeing excrement. It depends only on whether it is in one's "area" or not.
How would the Rosh answer the questions of the Rashba? The PRI MEGADIM (introduction to OC 79) says that the Rosh understands that the Gemara is discussing a rabbinical prohibition. One is required, mid'Rabanan, to move out of the line of sight of excrement. Alternatively, the Pri Megadim suggests that the Rosh understands that when excrement is in front of the person, as long as he can see it (even though it is not within his four Amos), it is considered to be within his "Machaneh." (See also Chart #3.)