THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) THINKING THE WORDS OF SHEMA WITHOUT VOCALIZING THEM
QUESTION: Rebbi Meir states that a Ba'al Keri should only *think* the words
of Keri'as Shema in his heart and not recite the words audibly. This
implies that a normal person (who is not a Ba'al Keri) must say it aloud
and may not think the words to himself. This contradicts Rebbi Meir's
opinion earlier (15a), where he said that anyone may think the words of
Shema in his heart, even l'Chatchilah! How is this contradiction to be
2) WHAT SHOULD A "BA'AL KERI" THINK IN HIS HEART?
ANSWER: The RITVA answers that earlier, on 15a, when Rebbi Meir said that
one does not need to hear what he recites, he meant that one fulfills his
obligation when he *speaks* the words even though he cannot *hear* what he
is saying. He does not fulfill his obligation by merely *thinking* the
words. (The ROSH comes to the same conclusion without asking the question.)
OPINIONS: The Beraisa quotes Rebbi Meir who says that "a Ba'al Keri (who
has not immersed in a Mikvah) should read Keri'as Shema but may not recite
the blessings before or after the Shema. When he eats bread, he recites the
blessing afterwards (Birkas ha'Mazon) but not the blessing beforehand. He
should think the words in his heart and not recite them audibly." When
Rebbi Meir says "he should think the words in his heart and not recite them
audibly," is he referring to Keri'as Shema and Birkas ha'Mazon (but the
blessings he may not even think), or is he referring to the blessings (but
Keri'as Shema and Birkas ha'Mazon he may actually recite audibly)?
3) THE STUDENTS' BARREL OF WATER
(a) The P'NEI YEHOSHUA writes that he should only think the words of Shema
and Birkas ha'Mazon and not recite them audibly. He may not even think the
(b) The RASHASH and GILYONEI HA'SHAS (Rav Yosef Engel) understand Rebbi
Meir to be saying that the Ba'al Keri should think the blessings and he may
even audibly recite Keri'as Shema and Birkas ha'Mazon.
QUESTION: Rav Nachman set up a barrel of nine Kavim of water in order for
the students to purify themselves from Tum'as Keri. RASHI (DH Tiken
Chitzva) explains that the water was for the students to pour over
themselves "in the morning, prior to the reading of the Torah (Keri'as
ha'Torah)." Why does Rashi not say that the water was to pour over
themselves prior to reciting Keri'as Shema and Tefilah?
ANSWER: Sefer BEIS YOSEF (Rav Avraham Direnfeld) explains that the "reading
of the Torah" refers to *learning* Torah. The students would learn Torah in
the morning *before* they said Keri'as Shema and Shemoneh Esreh.
4) HALACHAH: MUST A "BA'AL KERI" GO TO THE MIKVAH NOWADAYS?
OPINIONS: The Mishnah and Gemara discuss at length the necessity of a Ba'al
Keri to purify himself by immersing in a Mikvah in order to recite Keri'as
Shema, blessings, and learn Torah. What is our practice nowadays?
5) IF ONE FOUND EXCREMENT IN THE PLACE THAT HE DAVENED
(a) RASHI (DH Amar Rava Hilchisa) writes that today we rely on the opinion
of Rebbi Yehudah Ben Beseirah who said that words of Torah cannot become
Tamei (22a), and therefore a Ba'al Keri does not need to immerse himself.
This is the opinion of many other Rishonim as well (see Tur OC 88).
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 88:1) mentions the original edicts, but
writes that today our practice is not to require immersion in a Mikvah nor
washing with nine Kavim, neither for learning Torah nor for Davening. The
MISHNAH BERURAH (88:4), however, says that "men of [meritorious] deeds" do
go to the Mikvah before Davening. However, if they are ill, and became a
Ba'al Keri unintentionally, their practice is not to require immersion in a
Mikvah, because the original edict never required such a person to do so,
as our Gemara concludes.
(b) The RIF, RAMBAM (Hilchos Tefilah 4:6), and RA'AVAD explain that there
were two different edicts. Ezra decreed that a Ba'al Keri may not *learn
Torah*. The later Rabbanan decreed that a Ba'al Keri may not Daven. Ezra's
decree was nullified, while the later decree was still upheld in certain
areas. In those places, a Ba'al Keri would still make himself Tahor prior
to Davening. The Rambam writes that in those areas, people were accustomed
to "wash their entire bodies" in water. The Kesef Mishnah explains that the
Rambam's intention is that the custom was for a Ba'al Keri to pour over
himself nine Kavim of water, but not necessarily to immerse himself in a
Mikvah. The Tur records this practice.
HALACHAH: The Gemara states, in the name of Rava, that if one found
excrement in the place in which he Davened, "his prayer is an abomination"
as the verse says, "The offering of an evil person is an abomination"
6) URINATING DURING "TEFILAH"
TOSFOS (DH v'Ha Zevach) notes that this applies only when he Davened in a
place in which he should have expected to find excrement. If he Davened in
a place in which, under normal circumstances, there was no reason to be
concerned that there was excrement lying around, he did nothing wrong and
he cannot be called "evil."
The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 76:8) rules like Tosfos. The Mishnah Berurah (76:28)
says that, for example, any place where little children are frequently
found is considered a place where one must be wary of finding excrement.
If one finds excrement in the place in which he Davened (that is, within
four Amos of where he stood), he must repeat Shemoneh Esreh. The Bi'ur
Halachah (DH Tzarich la'Ch'zor) adds that if a person is imprisoned in a
place where there is excrement, it is proper not to Daven at all.
QUESTION: The Gemara rules that if urine was dripping from a person while
he was saying Shemoneh Esreh, he must stop and wait until the flow ceases,
and then he may resume his Shemoneh Esreh. Why is he permitted to resume
his Shemoneh Esreh when there is urine on his body and clothing? The
Mishnah (see later, 25b) states that one may not Daven near urine!
(a) TOSFOS (DH Mamtin) cites the Gemara later (25a) that says if urine is
absorbed inside of something and it is not wet enough to make something
else wet, then it is permissible to Daven in front of it.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 78:1) rules that one may continue Davening
if the urine on his body is covered by his clothes, and even if it is not
covered he may continue saying Shemoneh Esreh, since the Rabanan did not
require him to interrupt his Shemoneh Esreh (like answer (a) of Tosfos). If
he was reciting Keri'as Shema, however, and urine soiled the outer layer of
his clothing, he must interrupt and go change his clothes, since there is
no requirement to stand in one place during Shema (Mishnah Berurah OC
(b) Tosfos (ibid.) gives a second answer. It is forbidden mid'Oraisa to
Daven in front of the *flow* of urine as it exits the body. When the urine
is no longer flowing from his body but is only resting in front of him (or
on his clothes), the prohibition against Davening in front of the urine is
only mid'Rabanan. The Rabanan did not enforce their decree not to Daven in
front of urine when the person was already in the middle of Shemoneh Esreh.
They only prohibited him from *beginning* to Daven.
(c) RABEINU YONAH explains that the person must indeed walk four Amos away
from the puddle of urine on the ground. The urine that is on his body and
clothing, however, is only a small amount and does not smell
(alternatively, it is covered by his overgarment, RITVA), and therefore the
Rabanan did not prohibit him from Davening in such a situation.
The BI'UR HALACHAH adds that even though Tosfos does not require one to
walk away from the puddle of urine on the ground, one should not rely on
Tosfos' answer and should walk away from the urine (based on the ruling of
the Shulchan Aruch OC 90:27, which is apparently in accordance with the
opinion of Rabeinu Yonah, in answer (c)).