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Berachos 24


QUESTION: The Gemara says that a woman who is undressed is permitted to separate Chalah and recite the blessing while she is sitting, since her private parts are covered. The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 8:2) asks, how can she recite the blessing sitting down? The Halachah requires that blessings preceding the performance of Mitzos must be recited while standing, at least l'Chatchilah!


(a) The MAGEN AVRAHAM answers that one does not have to stand to recite the blessing over separating Chalah. Separating Chalah is only a necessary step to permit people to eat the bread; one is not required to bake bread in order to separate Chalah. Therefore, the blessing over separating Chalah is not like Birchas ha'Mitzvos, but like a blessing recited over food, for which one does not have to stand.

(b) The YESHU'OS YAKOV (YD 328) explains that indeed, l'Chatchilah one should stand for the blessing. However, if one is unable to stand (such as in the case of an undressed woman), we do not say that one cannot recite the blessing and therefore may not separate Chalah. Rather, we permit the blessing to be recited while seated.

(c) The MALBIM (in ARTZOS HA'CHAYIM #8) explains that when one performs a Mitzvah d'Oraisa, just like one must stand for the performance of the Mitzvah one must also stand for the blessing. When performing a Mitzvah mid'Rabanan, one does not need to stand for the performance of the Mitzvah, and therefore one is not required to stand for its blessing either. Since the Mitzvah of Chalah is mid'Rabanan nowadays, one does not need to stand for the Mitzvah of separating Chalah nor for its blessing.

QUESTION: The Gemara says that the thigh of a woman is considered nakedness ("Shok b'Ishah Ervah"). RASHI (DH Shok) says that this refers to an "Eshes Ish," a woman married to someone else (as opposed to one's own wife).

The Gemara just said that one is not allowed to gaze at even the small finger of a woman married to another person, for even that is considered an Ervah! If so, why does Rashi explain that the statement "the thigh of a woman is considered an Ervah" prohibits looking at the thigh of a woman *other* than one's wife? Even the smallest finger of another woman is prohibited to look at!

(a) The BACH (OC 75) explains that a woman's thigh tends to be sweaty and therefore more repulsive than any other part of her body. We might have thought that it is not prohibited to look at, as is a woman's clean, attractive finger. Therefore, the Gemara teaches that eveb a woman's thigh is considered to be Ervah.

(b) The TZELACH says exactly the opposite: Rashi means to teach us that there is a greater prohibition to gaze at a woman's thigh, than to gaze at her finger. Another woman's thigh is forbidden to look at even if one *does not* have intention to get pleasure from gazing at it. The other parts of a woman that are more often exposed, such as her fingers, are only forbidden to gaze at when one has intention to get pleasure.

According to all of the above answers, what was Rashi's *source* to assert that the "thigh" mentioned in the Gemara is referring to that of another woman, and not simply to that of one's own wife when one is reciting Keri'as Shema (as the Gemara concluded with regard to a Tefach of a woman)?

(c) The VILNA GAON asserts that there is a typist's error in the words of Rashi. Rashi's words "b'Eshes Ish" belong further down on the page, and they are referring to the Gemara's statement that "the *hair* of a woman is an Ervah." (Since hair is not part of the flesh of the body, the prohibition against gazing at a woman would not have applied to it had it not been independently classified as an Ervah.)


OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that Rebbi would "feel his garment" while saying Shemoneh Esrei, but he would not "wrap himself" with his garment. What does it mean that he would feel his garment?
(a) RASHI (DH u'Mimashmesh) says that he would *remove bugs* that were stinging him.

(b) TOSFOS (DH u'Mimashmesh) cites RABEINU CHANANEL who explains that it is connected to the end of Rebbi's statement; Rebbi would *reposition his Talis* if it was about to fall off, but he would not put it back on if it fell off.

Why does Rabeinu Chananel reject Rashi's explanation? It seems that Rabeinu Chananel maintains that it should not be permitted to do an act during Shemoneh Esrei that is not needed for Tefilah. Fixing one's Talis is necessary for Tefilah because one is supposed to wear a Talis while Davening, while removing bugs is not.

Support for Rabeinu Chananel's position may be drawn from the Mishnah later (30b) that says even if a snake is wrapped around one's ankle, he may not interrupt his Tefilah to remove the snake. If one may not remove a snake, certainly one may not interrupt his Tefilah to remove a little bug. Rashi would respond that removing the snake involves a much larger interruption of one's Tefilah. He cannot merely brush it off, but he must take it away or kill it. An insect that is biting needs merely to be brushed off. (In addition, a snake does not usually bite unprovoked (Gemara 33a). Here, though, the bug is actually stinging him, and therefore there is more reason to permit him to interrupt his Tefilah to remove it.)

(c) The RITVA and ME'IRI explain that one is permitted to rub his clothing over the place on his body which the bug is irritating, even if that place is one of Ervah which may not be touched while praying.

The Gemara teaches that if one feels the urge to pass gas during his Shemoneh Esrei, he should walk back four Amos, pass gas, wait until the odor dissipates, return to his place and recite a special prayer, and then he may commence from where he left off.

The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 103:2) records this as the Halachah. However, the REMA cites the TERUMAS HA'DESHEN (#16) who rules that this Halachah applies only when one is Davening by himself in his home. When he is Davening with others in a synagogue, it would cause him great embarrassment to have to walk back four Amos during his Shemoneh Esrei. Therefore, when Davening with others, one may remain standing in his place while he passes gas until the odor dissipates, and he should not recite the special prayer.

The MISHNAH BERURAH (103:9) adds that when one is Davening in a synagogue with others, even though he should not walk back or recite the prayer he should think the prayer in his heart.

QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan told Rebbi Avahu that if he paused long enough to finish the entire Shema, he must begin again from the beginning of Shema.

Rebbi Yochanan himself (Rosh Hashanah 34b) states that on Rosh Hashanah, if a person waited between each individual blast of the Shofar long enough to finish all of the required blasts, he may continue where he left off. He does not have to go back to the beginning. Why, then, regarding Shema does Rebbi Yochanan say that one must go back to the beginning?

(a) Rebbi Yehudah ha'Chasid explains that Rebbi Yochanan was responding to Rebbi Avahu according to Rebbi Avahu's own opinion. Rebbi Avahu maintains that one must go back to the beginning if he paused long enough to finish the entire Shema, and the same would apply for Shofar blasts. Rebbi Yochanan himself, though, maintains that one would not have to go back to the beginning of Shema. (Tosfos 22b, DH Elah, also cites the answer of Rebbi Yehudah ha'Chasid.)

(b) RAV SHIMSHON M'KUTZI, quoted in Tosfos (22b, DH Elahi) and in the ROSH (3:23), says that Rebbi Yochanan normally maintains that one does not have to repeat the entire set of Shofar-blasts or the entire Shema, even if he pauses in middle for a very lengthy span of time. In the case in our Gemara, however, Rebbi Avahu was not *fit* to say Shema (because he was in an unclean place). When a person is not fit to perform a particular act, it is considered worse than willfully pausing and is a stronger interruption in one's prayer or action. Therefore, if he waited long enough to finish the entire Tefilah, he must start again from the beginning.

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