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 Hilchos Kriyas Shema 74 (page 213)
 מתחילת סימן עד עד סעיף ב

Reciting Torah in Front of a Revealed Ervah
The Issur of Reciting Torah in Front of a Revealed Ervah
How to Separate the Heart from the Ervah

Reciting Torah in front of a revealed ervah
When the Torah prohibits indecent exposure it uses the word davar, which is related to dibur (speech). Chazal understood that it is forbidden to recite devarim sh'bekedusha --i.e.  kriyas Shema, berachos or Torah [in any language] -- in front of an exposed ervah, whether one's own or someone else's. According to some poskim, it is also forbidden to write Torah with an exposed ervah. It is, though, permissible to respond Amen or have Torah thoughts with an exposed ervah, unless one is listening with the intention of fulfilling an obligation.
( ס"ק ד, וביה"ל פתיחה אות א ו־ג, וד"ה היה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 1 ו־4; וראה שם, 11)
The issur of reciting Torah in front of a revealed ervah
According to many Rishonim, the Chachomim added a prohibition against reciting a davar sh'bekedusha while one's 'heart sees' an ervah (i.e. there is no [clothing] separating between the heart and ervah). The term 'seeing' can be applied to the heart, as Koheles writes: "My heart saw much wisdom." The halacha follows this opinion. Someone who read Shema and its berachos with an exposed ervah must repeat them. However, Shemoneh Esrei and other berachos are not repeated because of an exposed ervah.
( סעיף א, ס"ק ד ו־ה, וביה"ל פתיחה אות א ו־ב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 8-9)
How to separate the heart from the ervah
Someone who is wearing just a robe over his body, without any additional clothing/covering on his heart or ervah and without any belt to separate between them, must press the robe on his heart or ervah or put a separation like a belt between them. One's own hands do not suffice to cover the organs; since they are part of the body, they do not qualify as coverings for the body.
( ס"ק א-ג, וביה"ל פתיחה אות ג, וד"ה צריך)

  • It is permissible for a father to sleep with his minor daughter and a mother with her minor son. The age that it is no longer permissible for them to sleep together varies from child to child.
  • When reciting a davar sh'bekedusha (berachos, Shema, tefilla or Torah), it is important to clear one's mind from foreign thoughts and, the more so, from impure thoughts.
  • It is permissible to think about a davar sh'bekedusha or divrei Torah in situations when one is liable to have impure thoughts. However, one may not listen to a beracha with the intention to be yotzei in those situations, since listening is considered as speaking in such a case.

  • Covering the body with water

  • Covering the head when reciting a davar sh'bekedusha

  • Touching the covered parts of the body


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.