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 Hilchos Kriyas Shema 79 (page 224)
 מסעיף ב עד סעיף ד

Waste Matter Behind a Partition
Closing One's Eyes to Permit the Recitation of a Davar Sh'bekedusha
Distancing Oneself from a Bad Odor

Waste matter behind a partition
One does not need to keep four amos away from waste matter that is in a different room or behind a partition. According to many poskim, a hanging curtain that is connected only at the top is not an adequate partition for this halacha. Likewise, there is an opinion which does not consider a tzuras hapesach (lit. a door frame without adjacent walls) to be a proper divider for this rule, even though it qualifies as a mechitza in many other areas of halacha (e.g. eiruv, sukkah).
( סעיף ב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 22)
Closing one's eyes to permit the recitation of a davar sh'bekedusha
The exemption of waste behind a partition pertains only to the four amos rule. The poskim debate whether this exemption can also be applied to the 'viewable distance' rule, and the issue remains undecided (except with respect to Torah thoughts, which are permissible in this situation). If, in addition to the partition, one's eyes are closed or the area is dimly lit, there are more grounds to permit reciting devarim shebekedusha under the circumstances. (In times of need, it is permissible to rely on the lenient opinion.)
( סעיף ב, ס"ק יד, וביה"ל ד"ה אבל וד"ה דוקא)
Distancing oneself from a bad odor 
If the waste matter is in a different room, a person must distance himself from it if he can smell the bad odor. The poskim discuss whether in this case it is enough to move away from the smelly area, or whether he must move four amos beyond the point where the odor ends. All poskim agree that the latter applies in the case of a smelly bathroom. The halacha does not differentiate between people who have an olfactory sense and people who don't, except perhaps in a difficult situation.
( סעיף ב וס"ק טז-יח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 27)

  • 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. Closing one's eyes or turning one's head do not permit one to recite a davar sh'bekedusha in this case.
  • There is a discussion among the poskim as to whether the 'viewable distance' in front of a person is a wide view, or if it includes only the area directly in his line of vision if he does not turn his head.
  • 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.

  • Animal droppings

  • Offensive odors

  • Someone with a superior sense of smell




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.