I have been inspired by the recent publication of the Koren Talmud Bavli. A beautifully produced work which will no doubt bring the Talmud to life for many in the English speaking world. It has made Gemara fun to learn with insights on every page. Whether it is biographical sketches, additional notes on the origins of words or clear notes on the Jewish legal position, all are presented clearly.
I cannot wait for the ipad app which will no doubt be a valuable addition.
I am hoping to post at least a few times a week a brief idea from the daily day to share ideas and hopefully inspire others to take on this incredible and rewarding challenge.
Today’s daf is Brachot 23
This section of Talmud deals with how one should behave when handling Tefillin or Sifrei Torah and is concerned with areas such as prayer when needing to relieve oneself etc.
“The sages taught: One who needs to relieve himself may not pray, and if he prayed, his prayer is an abomination. Rav Zevid and some say Rav Yehuda said: They only taught [this halacha in a case where] one cannot restrain himself. But, if he can restrain himself, his prayer is a [valid] prayer”.
The Talmud continues with a discussion of how long a person should be able to restrain themselves for and answers that it is as long as it takes a person to walk a parsang. Opinions vary on how long this is: either 1 hour and 12 minutes; or 1 hour and 36 minutes.
There are two main reasons why we are forbidden to pray when needing to relieve ourselves:
1. We are distracted and unable to concentrate on prayer;
2. One who needs to relieve him/herself is considered filthy and unfit to pray.
(See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 92:1,3)