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 Hilchos Kriyas Shema 85 (page 233)
 מאמצע סעיף ב ואם נזדמן עד סימן פז אמצע סעיף א אבל אם הן של מתכת

An Exception to the Prohibition against Studying Torah in a Foul Area
Which Odors Require Distance?
Keeping a Distance from Sewer Pipes

An exception to the prohibition against studying Torah in a foul area
If someone is in a place where Torah study is forbidden and he sees another Jew about to transgress a prohibition, he is permitted to alert that Jew about the issur. (There is an opinion which prefers saying 'don't do that' to using the word issur or aviera under the circumstances.) If the message cannot get across with a simple 'no,' it is permissible to prevent the issur from happening by explaining the halacha to the other person. Someone who is beset with impure thoughts can fill his mind with holy thoughts in order to drive them away, even in places where it is otherwise forbidden to have Torah thoughts.
( סימן פה, סעיף ב, ס"ק יג-יד, וביה"ל ד"ה ואם)
Which odors require distance?
It is forbidden to recite a davar sh'bekedusha in circumstances where there is a strong, offensive odor caused by rotting. Even people who have become accustomed to the smell are required to keep a distance from it before reciting devarim sh'bekedusha. Distance is not required for faint smells, even if they are offensive. Human vomit, while repulsive, does not require distance unless it also smells bad. It is commendable to stay away from slightly offensive odors.
( סימן פו, ס"ק א ו־ג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 1-4)
Keeping a distance from sewer pipes
A potty or commode made from wood or clay requires distance mid'oraisa, even if it is clean. (A utensil made to contain tzoah­ is called a graf shel re'i and one made for urine is called an abit shel mei raglayim.) The contemporary poskim discuss whether exposed sewer pipes are treated as a graf even though the waste matter does not sit in the pipe but passes through it quickly. Some are stringent for all pipes regardless of the material, some are only strict about clay pipes, and others are lenient for all pipes.
( סימן פז, סעיף א, ס"ק א, ב ו־ד; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 3)

  • All forms of Torah are forbidden anywhere it is forbidden to have Torah thoughts. For example, it is forbidden to think about Hebrew grammar in the bathroom, since the rules are based on how words appear in Tanach.
  • Torah discussions in unclean places are forbidden in any language. It is permissible to speak Lashon Hakodesh in an unclean place, but it is praiseworthy to avoid doing so. (It is possible to be lenient in countries where the primary spoken language is Hebrew.)
  • Ideally, one should not go from Torah straight into tefilla because the Torah thoughts might occupy his mind during davening. Forcing his mind to focus on the davening will likely further distract him from tefilla. It is permissible to enter a bathroom just after studying Torah, however.

  • Materials used to make a Graf

  • Waste behind a partition

  • Expunging forbidden materials from plasticware




PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.