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 Hilchos Kriyas Shema 78 (page 222)
 מתחילת סימן עט עד אמצע סעיף א אפילו אם יש לו

The Mitzva to 'Keep Your Camp Holy'
The Four Cubits Around a Person
The 'Viewable Distance'

The mitzva to "keep your camp holy"
You shall cover your excrement...for Hashem travels with you...and keep your camp holy­­. Chazal explain that it is mandatory to keep the area around oneself clean when Hashem is 'with you' - i.e. when reciting or contemplating devarim sh'bekedusha. The area must be clear of excrement (even if there is no odor), of any rotting waste with a foul smell, and -- mid'rabonon -- of urine (urine may be forbidden mid'oraisa under certain circumstances). Devarim sh'bekedusha are permitted near foul items that are covered and do not produce a smell.
( סעיף א, ס"ק א-ב, והקדמת הביה"ל אות א, ה, ט ו־י; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 10)
The four cubits around a person
The four amos around a person are considered 'his' property with respect to many halachos in the Torah, including the rights to acquire through chotzer. (In some cases this area is considered his mid'oraisa, and in others mid'rabonon.) This measure of space approximates the area a person's body would take up if he was lying stretched out on the ground. This is the area that a person is responsible to 'keep clean' when reciting a davar sh'bekedusha.
( ס"ק ב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 11)

The 'viewable distance'
In addition, it is forbidden for a person to recite a davar sh'bekedusha if there is waste matter within viewing distance in front of him. According to some poskim, this is included in the d'oraisa rule of a clean camp; according to other poskim, this rule is mid'rabonon. A third opinion learns this rule from the latter part of the pasuk, "you shall not see an ervah." According to this opinion, the rule applies only to speech and not thought, since Chazal expounded on the word davar to mean dibbur-speech.
( הקדמת הביה"ל אות ב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 9)

  • It is forbidden for a person to recite a davar sh'bekedusha if there is urine within his four amos or somewhere within viewing distance in front of him.
  • One revi'is of water can "neutralize" a large quantity of urine to which it is added.
  • A patient wearing a catheter is permitted to recite devarim sh'bekedusha as long as there is no stench. The poskim discuss whether the catheter and bag must be kept covered.

  • Inspecting the 'viewable distance'

  • Moving waste

  • Setting aside an issur d'rabonon to prevent embarrassment




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.