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 Hilchos Kriyas Shema 79 (page 223)
 מאמצע סעיף א אפילו אם יש לו עד סעיף ב

Measuring the 'Viewable Distance'
Defining the 'View' and Moving Waste
Overriding an Issur D'rabonon to Prevent Embarrassment

Measuring the 'viewable distance'
It is forbidden to recite a davar sh'bekedusha if there is waste matter in the viewable distance in front of him. In this situation, closing one's eyes or turning one's head to the side do not make the recitation permissible. The 'viewable distance' in a dark area is judged according to what would be seen if the area was lit. For a blind man, it is judged based on how far an average person would see. The poskim discuss whether a person who wants to recite a davar sh'bekedusha is required to inspect the area in front of him for waste matter if waste is commonly found there. If waste was discovered there after davening, it is not necessary to repeat the tefilla.
( סעיף א, ס"ק ג, וביה"ל ד"ה ומלפניו וד"ה או)
Defining the 'view' and moving waste 
There is a discussion amongst the poskim if the 'viewable distance' in front of a person is a wide view that includes areas towards the right and left or if it pertains only to the area that would be in his line of vision if he did not turn his head. One may be lenient if the waste matter is not stationary (i.e. it is being transported by a person or a vehicle). Ideally, one should try to avoid a situation in which waste is visible directly across from him on either of his sides [even beyond four amos], if this can be accomplished without too much difficulty.
( ס"ק ה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 12)
Overriding an isur d'rabonon to prevent embarrassment 
If waste or rotting matter of the type that is forbidden mid'oraisa is found in shul during the chazan's repetition, the chazan should stop davening until the waste is covered or removed or until the congregation has moved far enough away from it so that it is not a problem. If the waste matter is the type only forbidden mid'rabonon, one might not have to alert the chazan about it unless it is close enough to him to be a problem. If alerting the chazan and making him stop will embarrass a member of the congregation, it is permissible to be lenient even if the waste is near the chazan.
( סעיף א, ס"ק ז-ט, וביה"ל ד"ה בתוך, וראה שם ד"ה עד)

  • "...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 four amos around a person are considered 'his' property with respect to many halachos in the Torah, including the rights to acquire through chotzer. A person is also responsible to keep this area clean when reciting a davar sh'bekedusha.
  • It is forbidden for a person to recite a davar sh'bekedusha if there is waste matter in the viewable distance in front of him.

  • Waste matter behind a partition

  • Closing one's eyes to permit the recitation of a davar sh'bekedusha

  • Distancing oneself from a bad odor




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.